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Although the boundaries have shifted in the decades since this album’s release, Broken English has lost none of its trenchant appeal. And despite Courtney Love and many angry grrrl groups using explicit lyrics, Why d’Ya Do It? still sounds fresh, perhaps because it originally was written as a poem by Heathcote Williams. Her version of Lennon’s Working Class Hero sounds as sharp as ever, while the brooding title track is still relevant today. On the melodic side, Lucy Jordan has become quite a standard and could easily be considered a country weepie, while Witches Song remains eerie and anthemic. The sound is typical 80’s rock with tight musicianship supporting this classic monument to decadence and despair. This is probably her best selling album of all time for all the wrong reasons! The other two works from the same period, A Child’s Adventure and Dangerous Acquaintances, are equally excellent and will richly reward the listener. Nevertheless, Broken English stands tall as a masterpiece of broken taboos, subversive poetics and timeless songs.
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on 8 October 2000
I first heard this album 15 years ago in my late teens and all I could hear was depression.Now in my mid thirties I realise that it is depressing in one sense but it puts into words and music all the feelings and emotions that we all feel at some point. This album is not to be listened to when you are feeling right in the gutter but when you are on the way back up. The Ballad of Lucy Jordan is not only haunting but beautifully orchestrated. Buy this album and try it and ignore the twee music that Marianne produced in the 60's because this is different gravy
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on 18 May 2004
This album astonished listeners when released, and still has the power to shock. The classic sound that ties it to label mates like Grace Jones is still fresh, particularly on the opener and title track, Broken English. The instrumentation is bare and pure, leaving space for Marianne's voice - much changed since her last major outing on record - to enchant and beguile. Her voice is like nothing you've heard, but is all the better for it - like late, late Billie Holliday, though you feel the pain you also feel the experience, and it takes the songs to a different and superior place. A classic slice of the 70s.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 April 2014
I'm old enough to remember Marianne's hits first time round. Her high pitched and relatively naive renditions that took her into the charts. Then followed a descent into drug abuse and personal difficulty and she arise, reinvented.

For me, this album epitomises every strength she has. It's filled with heartbreaking soul, her voice, much changed, delivering the heartfelt emotion behind every word. She doesn't need soaring strings. This is spare and often beautiful prose, put to music. A couple of tracks bring tears to my eyes every time I hear them and this is an album I'll love forever.
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"Broken English" was released in 1979, long after anyone expected to hear anything more from Marianne Faithfull, who had been categorized as a one hit wonder with the bland "As Tears Go By." And there it was, dark, dark. A Time magazine reviewer had called her later Strange Weather, upon its 1987 release, `music to slit your wrists to.' But the same might well have been said of BROKEN ENGLISH, except for the shock factor. Gone was Faithfull's bland chorister's voice, replaced by one that had been damaged by smoking various substances, drink, drugs, and riotous living. And it had become stronger; both albums were great critical favorites.

As an album, BROKEN is unique, to my knowledge, in one odd way: there are so few songs on it. But they are among Faithfull's most famous, and they constitute her signature album. She herself has called it, in her autobiography, her masterpiece. The songs are of loss, disillusionment, the backing tight, edgy, punky. Her voice is, of course, now like nobody else's, and neither is the sound of her backing group, consisting on this record of Diane Birch, Frankie Collins, Jim Cuomo, Guy Humphries, Joe Mavety, Maurice Pert, Barry Reynolds, Terry Stannard, Darryl Way, Steve Winwood, and Steve York. Shel Silverstein's "Ballad of Lucy Jordan," of a suburban housewife, who's had it with her starveling life, has never been done better. John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" could match its writer for bite. The title song, "Broken English," written by Faithfull and her frequent collaborator Barry Reynolds, with her backing musicians, Joe Mavety, Steve York and Terry Stannard, is as fresh today as the day it was written. As is "Witches Song" by the same team. "Guilt," by Barry Reynolds, has stood the test of time. But all the chat and outrage at the time, of course, was Faithfull's XXX reaction to a partner's infidelity: "Why D'Ya Do It," based on a poem by Heathcote Williams, written by Faithfull and the same team of musicians.

Marianne Faithfull has had a remarkably long singing career; the British songster started out in the 1960's as the pretty girlfriend of Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, and in 1964 delivered her pretty, tinkling version of "As Tears Go By," written for her by Jagger and Keith Richards, also of The Stones.

The Hollies, British rock group, wrote their 1960's hit song "Hey Carrie Ann, Now what's Your Game" about her, changing the name only slightly to protect the not-so-innocent. If there's one thing for sure, she was at the heart of London during its swinging sixties. As they say, men wanted her, women wanted to be her: though, let's face it, quite a few women probably wanted her too. But, between her sweet teenaged hit and the present day, quite a few tears have gone by for Faithfull, convent-educated daughter of an Austrian countess. She descended into homeless drug addiction, and stayed there for a long time before, with the help of her son, she was able to pull herself out.

These days Faithfull is producing a lot of music and she tours. I've been lucky enough to catch her several times, most memorably as she introduced Seven Deadly Sins, based on the work by famed German composer Bertolt Brecht, "Seven Deadly Sins." This was in New York: at Brooklyn's historic Brooklyn Academy of Music. And as she also introduced Blazing Away, also in Brooklyn, at Saint Ann's. (I've reviewed this album in these pages.) The artist has written an autobiography,Marianne Faithfull, that I have also read and reviewed in these pages. She acts, too. Most notably, you might catch her as the feminist God in the British television comedy series,Absolutely Fabulous - Absolutely Everything Box Set [DVD] [1992]. She is one of the finest art rock singers now working, but, firstly, you'd better appreciate rock to appreciate her. And furthermore, a warning to the sensitive; on this album she uses some language you just may never have heard a woman using before, let alone on record. It is strong stuff, but it is magnificent.
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on 24 February 2013
Marianne Faithfull had a lucrative career in the mid-60s. I enjoy her recordings from that era very much. When her label pulled her single with "Sister Morphine" as the b-side, she was fed up. Decca did not want her singing about drugs even though she wrote the lyrics to the song. An album of covers entitled "Rich Kid Blues" was recorded in 1971 but wasn't released until 1980. A mid-70s recording contract with NEMS followed but "Dreamin' My Dreams" contained some weak tracks and the album was revamped and re-released as "Faithless". The only single that became a hit was "Dreamin' My Dreams" in Eire. Marianne Faithfull got a band together and "Broken English" was an amazing comeback for her. Her voice had deepened. It was a lived in voice with a cracked larynx but she knew how to emote with it. This two disc set is great! The second disc provides the songs as they were going to be released with a different backing track. It is very good. "Sister Morphine" was to be included but it just didn't fit in with the other songs. A 10 minute video directed by Derek Jarmen is included and the 12" versions of "Broken English" and "Why'd Ya Do It" which were played in dance clubs. This album deserves to be honoured. It was ground breaking and brought Marianne Faithfull back to recording on her terms. She is a great artist and this album has aged like fine wine.
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on 16 February 2013
I always thought the original had great songs with too much production.Typical 80's.Now the stripped back version on disc 2 has become my favourite.Nice extra's from singles too and Derek Jarman short that has not been seen very often.
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Although the boundaries of the permissible have shifted since this album's release, Broken English has lost none of its trenchant appeal. And despite many female artists now using explicit lyrics, Why d'Ya Do It? still sounds fresh, perhaps because it originally was written as a poem by Heathcote Williams.

Her version of Lennon's Working Class Hero sounds as sharp as ever, while the brooding title track is still relevant today. On the melodic side, Lucy Jordan has become quite a standard and could easily be considered a country weepy, while Witches Song remains eerie and anthemic. The sound is typical 80's rock with tight musicianship supporting this classic monument to decadence and despair.

Marianne discusses the recording of Broken English in her autobiography Faithfull; Brain Drain was co-written by the tragic singer-songwriter Tim Hardin who might have inspired the title of Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding.

This is probably her best selling album of all time for all the wrong reasons! The other two works from the same period, Child's Adventure and Dangerous Acquaintances, are equally excellent and will richly reward the listener. Nevertheless, Broken English stands tall as a masterpiece of broken taboos, subversive poetics and timeless songs.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2015
Marianne Faithfull has recorded a stack of excellent albums (and one or two of only slightly lesser quality) since the 1960s, but when she referred to her 'comeback' album 'Broken English' as ''the masterpiece'', I doubt that many people will disagree with her. If you only own one of her studio albums - make sure it's this one.

Many music lovers had given up on Marianne long before 1979. She had been a hit-making folk-pop singer with beautiful good looks and an angelic singing voice, who had quickly become a wash-up junkie. All the years of heavy drinking, smoking and drug taking had taken their toll on her voice, but this was to come as a great advantage. Her voice was now very different, but it was far stronger, dirtier, worldlier, and she was now able to express words of anger so brilliantly in the songs of this remarkable album, which won her masses of critical acclaim, and a minor hit single in the UK.

The hit was 'The Ballad of Lucy Jordon', the story of a middle-aged woman's mental breakdown, and a cover of a country-isque song which Dr Hook had recorded first, and Marianne's version, very different, and more dramatic to Hook's gave the sad saga for Lucy the treatment it deserved, and is simply haunting. It has become one of her most famous songs, as indeed has the furious title track, and her sneering cover of John Lennon's anthem 'Working Class Hero', which is sang as though she lived through it personally. Every song here stands out in it's own right, because there are simply no fillers, and I've always adored the outrageous 'Why'd Ya Do It', which sees Marianne playing a bitter harpy who is delivering a fierce, graphic rant to her husband's infidelities, with lyrics far to rude for the radio.

People must have got one hell of shock when Marianne released this album, especially fans of her early 'clean' pop and folk influenced music, it was virtually like hearing the work of a completely different artist. This is not music you will want too listen to if you're feeling depressed, but if you're on your way up, or recovering after a row or something, play it loud. Marianne expressed all of her fury and rage on this, and the result is one very raw and edgy record.

I own many albums by female artists, but this is among the greatest I own. This recent re-issue offers brilliant remastering and a good booklet, filled with sexy pictures and interesting information. 'Broken English' really is the definitive Marianne Faithfull album, and indeed, 'the masterpiece'.
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on 19 November 2004
I became familiar with this album in my late teens and was going thru a wild time of my life. It is a very depressing album but for some reason I love it, It shouldn,t be listened to when you're feeling low but if your problems are minor and you fancy a good cry then this is the one. It's definitely not the kind of music I'd normally listen to but I'm glad I did.
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