Picks and Pans Review: Strange Weather

updated 08/31/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/31/1987 01:00AM

Marianne Faithfull

By this time Faithfull's voice has deteriorated so much that she mostly talk-sings, sounding like a combination of Maurice Chevalier and Tallulah Bankhead with a sore throat. On this album her version of Boulevard of Broken Dreams sounds like a drag queen's parody of Marlene Dietrich—and not a very talented drag queen either. This is also, however, a voice with character. Few singers can match the kind of dissolute worldliness Faithfull just tosses off, and when her heavy, cracking voice is backed by the right musicians, the bittersweet effect is just right. On this album, for instance, she sings the old blues Love, Life and Money accompanied only by Mac Rebennack's piano, and this is old Dr. John at his brightest and most melodious. On the Tom Waits-Kathleen Brennan tune Strange Weather, there is the accordion backing of Garth Hudson, and on Bob Dylan's I'll Keep It with Mine, there's Bill Frisell's guitar. The eccentric assortment of material also includes the shmaltz standard Penthouse Serenade and As Tears Go By, the Rolling Stones piece Faithfull inspired back when she and Mick Jagger were an item. She recorded the same song and had a minor hit with it in 1964. Faithfull is 40 now, but her performing style has an ageless quality. She generates the impression that, for better and worse, she knows pretty much how things work. (Island)

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