Marianne Faithfull – Broken English (1979)
Emerging from years of drug abuse with a wounded voice, Marianne Faithfull starts to piece things back together on this provocative album. Dr. Hook’s ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’ and John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’ are reworked here using an eclectic mix of new wave and punk that sets the album apart from Faithfull’s other work. The influence of Bowie and The Clash are both evident in how the songs are framed while Faithfull’s rasp delivers each line with knowing ferocity. The lewd ‘Why’d Ya Do It’ details the oral adventures of an unfaithful lover in livid detail. Few voices are better suited to such a song — Amy Winehouse being one of the few that come to mind. The addiction ballad ‘Brain Drain’ hits closest to Faithfull’s own life, but there are scars all over this record. Though the title song’s synth sounds are pure 70s weirdness, it doesn’t feel dated, with such a timeless voice laying bare all her demons.
One of those records that you stumble upon and can’t forget. – Jason Lent
Henry Flynt – You Are My Everlovin’/Celestial Power (1986)
Yes, this again. And again. And again. Until every last nibble of routine is wrenched into the resiling and rarefied. Until time gives way to infinity. Until all that remains is raw fuckin’ power. – Vinh Cao
Larry Jon Wilson – Larry Jon Wilson (2009)
Our feet have worn many shades of the wrong color. They’ve been happy because they were hassled by restlessness, they’ve been cold because we weren’t getting any warmer. Without compass, without rudder, without eyes, we had our backs turned to the wind. We’d peer at a sea of recondite questions with such keen focus that everything else would fade out.
Then tragedy struck down and brought us to our knees, the bedrock of our shelter collapsing and barreling over our head. We’d been bulldozed for believing we had it figured out. Loss didn’t merely sting, it seeped into our skin, mouldering, suffocating our visions to a stalemate with grief. We were buried alive.
Carrying an immeasurable burden, our legs effectively gave up the ghost. We were headed nowhere. Slowly. Ponderously. It’s within this frame that Larry Jon Wilson truly resonates. His voice — stout and vulnerable, velvety and run ragged — serves as the consummate shoulder to lean on. A stranger who seems to get it despite a veritable plenitude of its, a stranger who’s seen it all and thus what we’ve seen as well, graciously helping us regain our footing for he’s known his share of dire straits and wouldn’t wish them upon anyone. He knows. While recounting his tale, backed by little more than guitar and the odd whisper of a violin, a sense of fragility rises to the fore. We can almost hear the inner struggle to keep his feet from turning tail, from turning around to reach for days and dears long since departed.
Forgetting is too much to ask.
“Things ain’t what they used to be, they probably never was,” he interjects with a hearty chuckle. Hell, maybe they were never all that. Maybe nostalgia is but deception. Well, that’s kind of depressing. On the flip side, it cleans the slate, brushing off the cobwebs of sorrow to breathe in the bigger picture we couldn’t discern when harping on squandered dots. With the distance afforded by letting go, a widened lens. With a widened lens, a concourse of dabs new and old to discover and rediscover. It takes a single dusty or dazzling bit of flint to ignite the latent fire in our gut: “Sometimes you’re the only thing…at all.”
We stand firm now. We won’t buckle, not even an inch. It’s not that we’ve deciphered the scrolls, it’s that we’ve decided to trudge forward nonetheless.
One foot in front of the other. That’s the right direction. – Vinh Cao