Dreamin' My Dreams

Marianne Faithfull

NEMS, 1976

http://www.mariannefaithfull.org.uk/

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/09/2009

Between 1970 and 1975, Marianne Faithfull endured a personal hell that would have surely broken a weaker spirit.  Two years of homelessness living on a wall in London’s Soho only helped to escalate her rabid drug addiction, an addiction that survived friends’ interventions and various rehab programs.  Her former producer and friend Mike Leander tried to help and coaxed Faithfull into a studio in 1971 to record the Rich Kid Blues LP, which never saw the light of day until 1985.  It would be another man from Faithfull’s past that would finally encourage her to get her life and career back on track.

Tony Calder, who once managed Marianne, was the joint owner (with Andrew Loog Oldham) of the Immediate label during the sixties and they had just recently joined forces with Pat Meehan from the NEMS label.  It’s fair to say that by 1975 NEMS/Immediate were struggling and in a bid to score some chart action, the boys went scouting for talent.  Calder went searching for Marianne and after finding her shacked up with Ben Brierley of The Vibrators, he encouraged her to sign a deal with their flagging label. 

Calder oversaw the production and although what turned out to be a reasonably solid album for Marianne, it was not a great experience for her and several times the album looked like being shelved all together.  Faithfull later spoke of her frustration at being forced to record songs only from the NEMS/Immediate catalogue and felt that it hampered the album’s success.  And in spite of Calder’s leadership, she labeled the company “helpless,” knowing that if she were ever to make her masterpiece it wasn’t going to be this time.  Despite the frosty environment in which it was recorded, Dreamin’ My Dreams isn’t all that bad and is far from her worst effort.

The title track opens the album and its lonesome, downhearted lyric was perfect for Faithfull’s new broken, cracked and deep voice.  The years of drugs, booze and cigarettes had taken their toll and it would take Marianne a little while longer to figure out how best to use it effectively.  The song was actually recorded the year before and was the catalyst for this album’s existence after it was a surprise chart topper in Ireland in mid-’76.   my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Fairy Tale Hero” is pure country and probably could have been a hit if someone like Crystal Gayle or Anne Murray had recorded it in America.  “This Time” follows and is a swampy little country song that offers more of what Faithfull was chasing, “a country album in my own style” and with this song and a few others she achieved just that.  “I’m Not Lisa” is a strange song -- “I’m not Lisa / My name is Julie / Lisa left you years ago.”  It’s still country and if anything boasts the most lush arrangement of the entire album. 

“The Way You Want Me To Be” is clearly the best song here and one of Marianne’s long-overlooked gems.  It’s a great, mainly acoustic track and Faithfull now sounds comfortable with her voice and the material.  “Wrong Road Again” is more pop than country but it fits in well and although things were not always rosy, the production is cohesive and stands up surprisingly well all these years later.  “All I Wanna Do In Life” is one of the funkiest songs Faithfull has ever recorded.  Because of the overall country feel to the album it sounds very out of place but the fact that it flopped as a single is baffling being that it’s such a great track. 

“I’m Looking For Blue Eyes” is a cool country-rock track but unfortunately it’s the only track on the album that suffers from an unnecessarily overblown production.  “Somebody Loves You” fares better and Marianne again delivers the goods with a great vocal performance.  Marianne enjoyed a few of her biggest hits in the sixties from the pen of Jackie DeShannon, “Come And Stay With Me” and “In My Time Of Sorrow” being the best picks from her debut album, Marianne Faithfull

This time however Faithfull was not impressed with what DeShannon had to offer.  She would later label “Vanilla O’Lay” an “absolutely absurd pop jingle” in her excellent autobiography Faithfull.  Although it is a tad grating its one of those guilty pleasures that within the context of the album it doesn’t sound half bad, it will get stuck in your head though for some time afterwards. 

The most touching moment on the album is the only lyric Marianne wrote for the record in “Lady Madelaine.”  It’s a beautiful song about a dear friend of Faithfull’s from her years on the streets.  The album then comes to a close with another song that Faithfull tried to have cut from the record, “Sweet Little Sixteen.”  The song penned by Chuck Berry hints at some “cats” enjoying the company of an underage girl and offers nothing memorable to the album at all.  Dreamin’ My Dreams turned out not to be the record that Faithfull wanted it to be but with her next release she would more than certainly make up for its shortcomings.

Rating: B-

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