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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Years Go By, 19 Mar 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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Marianne Faithfull has been represented (or rather misrepresented) for many years – her life story a scenario of rumour, scandal and gossip. The stunningly beautiful young singer, the lover of rock stars, the junkie, the actress and the mother. She has fulfilled many roles, and lived many lives, but in this account the author attempts to look past the media glare and discover the truth about the life of Marianne Faithfull.

This book looks in detail at her childhood and her parents. When Marianne first met Andrew Loog Oldham and he asked her to record for him without ever hearing her sing – knowing he could sell that look – she was portrayed as an innocent convent school girl. Indeed, she did have a Catholic education, although she also had a bohemian upbringing and was, even as a child, often called precocious and arrogant. Much of this masked an unsure shyness. However, Marianne was keen to throw herself into Swinging London and from her early meetings with John Dunbar – who she later married and who was the father of her son, Nicholas – and Oldham, she embarked on her career. John Dunbar was certainly one of the Sixties beautiful people. He ran the Indica bookshop, alongside Barry Miles (central to London counter-culture) and both were close friends of Peter Asher, brother of Jane and boyfriend of Paul McCartney. Obviously, Andrew Loog Oldham was, at that time, manager of the Rolling Stones, so she was immediately in the very centre of the musical and artistic world at that moment.

Of course, much of this book takes place in the Sixties and, indeed, the public perception of her has been defined through that era. Her very public relationship with Mick Jagger, the Redlands drugs bust, her overdose in Australia and her gradual immersion in the drugs scene are all covered here in great detail. It is interesting to read that while the Sixties – and indeed the Seventies – are often criticised for being very sexist, it was not just men whose attitudes were defined by the era they grew up in. When Mick Jagger, still a very young man, faced his first night in prison, he broke down in front of Marianne. This was not a time in when men showed their feelings and Marianne was unable to comfort her distressed boyfriend, and, indeed, was rather harsh about his emotional state. It is clear that, in later years, she was aware that she had behaved rather badly towards him and, also, it is obvious that, even now, the two are still fond of each other.

This is certainly not just about the Sixties however. The rather sad period in the 1970’s is covered, when Marianne’s drug dependence grew and she lived an unsettled and difficult existence. Her many relationships, her acting and her music career are all examined. Despite all her problems, her friends have always seemed to care for her deeply and try to help her. Often her own behaviour has been so self destructive that you cannot help read about it with disbelief – there is the hilarious tale of her appearance on Saturday Night Live, for example, when a chance meeting in a hotel meant those minding her had no chance of keeping her sober during her trip. However, she has come through everything to emerge as a credible artist, with a successful career as a singer and actress. In her life she has battled dependence on drugs, trial by media, losing custody of her son, health problems and more. Yet, she has always emerged triumphant – adored by audiences and a doting grandmother, but never losing her ability to be unique. This book truly does her justice and tells her story without making it more extreme than it was; although, frankly, that would be difficult to do.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a superb chronicle of a crazy and wasted life., 17 Aug 2013
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Like many other people, I never took much serious notice of Marianne Faithful until she released her absolutely brilliant Broken English album in 1979. Until then, I always looked upon her as Mick Jagger's former girlfriend and a one-hit-wonder with As Tears Go By. However, no matter how good Broken English was I could never see me reading her biography.

What changed was reading author, Mark Hodkinson's other work in particular his novel, The Last Mad Surge of Youth which was simply superb. Until I had read it I hadn't realised that he's a famous football author whose many books I had already read over the years, a chronicler of both Queen and Simply Red and a columnist for The Times. What a talented bloke!

The book itself is a really well-researched journal of Marianne's crazy life. She's obviously got a superb personality to be able to keep so many superstar friends for so long (and for them to provide her with her keep) but Jesus Christ almighty, she's frustrating. If I have a criticism of this book it's that Hodkinson doesn't ever explore what drives her to constant self-destruction.

Quite a lot of the book understandably focuses on the Swinging Sixties in general and the Stones in particular. As the author points out, Marianne was somebody indelibly associated with that period but was only 24 years old at the end of the decade. Everybody who was anyone was absolutely besotted with her and it seems that she went to bed with most of them. The Hollies wrote their great hit Carrie Anne about her but Graham Nash was too shy to write Marianne and so changed the name. Allan Clarke was having an affair with her on tour at the time.

When The Hollies sang, "Then you played with older boys and prefects" it all makes sense now but probably wouldn't be too appropriate in these post-Saville times.

McCartney looks back on the time and quite rightly points out that although people like him, Marianne and Jagger were enjoying a hugely Bohemian existence, the average Joe and Joan had a blow out at the weekend but didn't ever join in as such.

Hodkinson writes a lot about The Stones because Marianne was inevitably tied up with them and their lives having had dalliances with Brian Jones and Keef before and after taking up with Jagger. Of course, her arrest by the Drug Squad at Richard's house dressed only in a fur rug led to the single most famous, if untrue, thing about her and, in the days before Anne Summers shops on every high street, boosted the sales of Mars Bars for a long time afterwards.

As the sixties turned into the seventies Marianne went into a downward spiral and seemed determined to be a street heroin addict - making it for quite some time actually living on the streets and in squats before being bailed out by yet more friends. By the end of the decade however she was about to make one of the best albums of all time. It didn't seem so to many at the time when it peaked at number 57 but the word was out on the post-punk streets and those in the know all had it and played it incessantly. I lived in Holland at the time and every bar you walked into had it on the turntable all night. You somehow couldn't imagine Marianne's contemporaries, Cilla Black, Pet Clarke, Sandie Shaw or Dusty Springfield ever making an album 15 years after their pomp which had the respect of kids in their late teens, but Marianne managed it in trumps. Of course, Lulu did do a song with Take That (what do you call a dog with five dicks?) but it wasn't quite the same was it?

Why D'Ya Do It?, the most shocking song on the album was something I just assumed that Marianne had written herself but was in fact written by an old Etonian poet for Tina Turner to sing. Raunchy as Tina was, I just couldn't see her doing it justice but Marianne brought it to life and really sounded like she was the wronged woman herself. Marianne's ability to turn a dull song into a masterpiece is best illustrated by her version of Dr Hook's The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan and she also did a moving version of Lennon's Working Class Hero as well as a bunch of great songs written by her and her band. Stevie Winwood's involvement in the project was the cream on the cake.

It began Maranne's involvement (musically and business-wise) with Island Records' Chris Blackwell which continued for years and years during which time Marianne didn't really repay the faith Blackwell had placed in her ever again. What's also for certain is that she never repaid the money that he put behind her either, instantly blowing record advances on drugs and clothes in that order. As I alluded earlier, this is my frustration with this book. It's a superb chronicle of Marianne's extremely interesting life, but never gets to "Why D'Ya Do It?"

Would I recommend that you buy it? 100% and whilst you're at it, get "The Last Mad Surge of Youth" which is even better.

By the way, don't confuse it with another biography that the same author wrote about Marianne some years ago called As TEARS (not YEARS) Go By and that it seems he's not really happy with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marianne Faithfull, 23 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Marianne Faithfull (Paperback)
This is a very interesting and well written book. A good read for anybody who is nostalgic for the 60s and 70s.
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Marianne Faithfull
Marianne Faithfull by Mark Hodkinson (Paperback - 13 May 2013)
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