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Marianne Faithful - Kissing Time Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 August 2002
Kissing Time,
Virgin Records, 2002
| Performance 7| Sound 7|

ImageIt makes one feel a little bit queasy just listening to Marianne Faithfull sing so explicitly about sex -- which she does a whole lot of the time on this appropriately titled “Kissin Time” album -- since she’s also old enough to be a grandmother. In the same way that you don't ever want to picture your own granny grinding in the sack, Faithfull’s blue singing here might create a few too many unthinkable mental images you don’t really want to imagine.

Faithfull has one of those tobacco-stained voices, which can– let’s face it -- often be a sexy thing in small doses. But just like with smoking itself, too much of that dirty stuff can kill you over time.

Faithfull collaborates with a few high-profile alternative rockers to achieve her senior sensual goals here. Guests include the usually much more detached Beck, former Smashing Pumpkin head Billy Corgan, the band Blur and the just-right-for-this-situation Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. In fact, it’s the Cocker tune, “Sliding Through Life On Charm,” that has most likely earned this album its “Parental Advisory Explicit Content” cover sticker. Of course, the song title “Sex With Strangers” isn’t exactly what you might call subtle, nor is “The Pleasure Song” all too vague, either.

Keyboards dominate the instrumentation on this modernization of Faithfull’s past classic rock sound. The album opens with the Beck-assisted “Sex With Strangers,” which is driven by blurpy, space-y keyboards. Faithfull’s vocals are half-spoken and soaked in irony here, similar to almost any Pet Shop Boys tune you’d care to name. “The Pleasure Song” is also synth guided, acting as a kind of slow meditation. “I’m On Fire” is a slow, swelling synth-rocker, featuring what amounts to a choir of backing vocalists and offering an uplifting response to a flowering romance. It flows nicely with a pseudo-gospel like reverence.

Not everything is cold and calculated-sounding on this disc, however. “Like Being Born” is a quiet ballad filled with plenty of acoustic guitar and a Chamberlain Celeste played by Jon Brion. This gives the cut an almost chamber music-like mood, for a song about the lifelong quest to comprehend the complexities of love. By the way, Beck is featured again on this track.

Most of these lyrics fit into this album’s theme of remaining sexually active, even into one’s twilight years. All, that is, except for the British Invasion redo of “I’m Into Something Good.” Even if it’s intended as an ironic gesture, this track doesn’t quite work.

Faithfull is much too lustful for most old folk homes. You’ve gotta give it to old Faithfull for continuing to slide through life on charm, rather than merely slipping away into boredom.

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