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The author Mark Hodkinson does not have a high opinion on this first book of his on account of the style, choice of words and alleged malapropisms. He exaggerates; none of these detracted from my enjoyment of the text which complements Faithfull's autobiographies Memories, Dreams & Reflections and Faithfull: An Autobiography by filling in important gaps and providing detailed information on her musical and acting career. While not avoiding the scandals, it thoroughly covers her work and life up to the early 1990s in a mostly sympathetic portrayal.
Against the background of the `Swinging Sixties,' Hodkinson investigates the family history and Marianne's childhood and school years. She entered the pop scene in 1964 with the single As Tears Go By which was followed by a series of pop-folk hits. The author does an admirable job of describing her early recordings and their performance on the UK and USA charts. He evokes the flavor of swinging London with insight and humor in relating the marriage, her husband's personality and their circle of friends.
Then came Mick Jagger who emerges as the gentleman from these pages, and the scandals that plagued Marianne from that time forward. She preferred the stage and film to music in the late 1960s, neglecting her recording career. It seems to have been professional rivalry that led to her separation and divorce from Jagger. The song Wild Horses on the 1971 Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers movingly articulates Mick's love for Marianne and his feelings of regret.
Addiction inhibited Marianne's creative expression during the early & middle 1970s. In 1977, however, the country album Faithless a.k.a. Dreaming my Dreams became a huge hit in Eire. This one, not Broken English, was the work where the transformation of her voice was first revealed. But it was the heyday of punk, a revolution that opened new opportunities of expresssion. Country was out and Marianne had met Ben Brierly of The Vibrators. She switched to angry material like poet Heathcote Williams' `Why'd Ya Do It?' during 1978 live performances.
Chris Blackwell of Island Records loved the new direction and signed her to his prestigious label with its many Jamaican artists and special talents with minority appeal like John Cale, Nick Drake, Nico, Robert Palmer, Grace Jones, Sparks, Richard Thompson and The Slits amongst others. The 1979 album Broken English established Marianne as a serious artist and sold respectably. I strongly disagree with the author's assessment of the individual tracks, with his opinions of the follow-ups Dangerous Acquaintances and A Child's Adventure as well as his views of the aforementioned Faithless and of 1990's live album Blazing Away.
The new `artistic' Marianne performed in the UK, USA and on the continent while experiencing further triumphs, travails and troubles related to substance addiction. She changed musical direction to critical acclaim with 1987's Strange Weather, a collection of blues, Broadway, torch & gospel covers. Finally, by comparing MF with her contemporaries the author explains her continued relevance by the fact that she'd never become dull. Hodkinson maintains that MF's earnestness and authenticity make her special.
As Tears Go By concludes with a discography of Singles, Extended Plays and Albums. 24pp of black & white plates contain 58 photographs of Marianne at various ages, John Dunbar, Baby Nicholas, Mick, Keith, Andrew Oldham, Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, Barry Reynolds, Ben Brierly, Chris Blackwell and many others. The Very Best of Marianne Faithfull is an excellent compilation of her early folk-pop music whilst Perfect Stranger: The Island Anthology offers the best of 1980 - 1998. Since then, Marianne has released consistently captivating albums like Vagabond Ways, Kissin Time, Before The Poison and Easy Come, Easy Go. She may be a minor musician sales-wise but the timeless quality of her music plus her aforementioned autobiographies that reveal a multi-faceted and skilled writer have added plenty of substance to the mystique.