"In 1990, as a naive young music fan, I read a rave review of a live album by the intriguingly-named Marianne Faithfull. Curiosity piqued, I picked up "Blazing Away" at my local record shop. What followed was intense - an hour of dark, moody music, sometime wistful, sometimes vicious, sung in a husky alto that seemed to define the term "chanteuse" to a college freshman with only the vaguest notion of what that meant. I became an immediate fan, and though I discovered her studio albums were fantastic, nothing matches the raw emotion poured forth in the suitably sombre, acoustics of St. Anne's Cathederal. The album wanders a bit in the second half, and though others on this site have raved about "Times Square," I feel the studio version is vastly superior. However, the incredible live renditions of "Guilt," "As Tears Go By," "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," and "Broken English" are without equal. It's also a pleasure to hear her versions of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" and Tom Waits' "Strange Weather." However, my personal favorite track is the harrowing "Sister Morphine," which benefits from a masterful arrangement. And how delicious, after the blisteringly obscene rant "Why'd Ya Do It?," to hear dear Marianne sigh, "Ah, I feel better now." Ten years on, still a delightful album, best enjoyed in the dark."
Marianne is ever Faithfull
Donn Hart | Boston | 02/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recorded live in front of her adoring fans at St. Anne's Church in Brooklyn, NY, "Blazing Away" ranks as Marianne Faithfull's truest testament to who and what she is: a one-time media darling, presently a woman expressing her own feelings on her own terms.The album opens with the dark, haunting "Les Prisons du Roi." She follows it up with a slow, dark, and absorbing reading of "Strange Weather." The album progresses through dark, slow ballads ("As Tears Go By") to angry rock ("Why'd Ya Do It?"). She does a splendid version of Lennon's "Working Class Hero." The standout is the desolate tale of woe "Times Square." It will absolutely give you chills. Following these excellent tracks is an a cappella reading of "She Moved Through the Fair." And after that, the apocalypse: a pounding, driving "Broken English," the title track of her 1979 watershed.Through all of the changes in music and in the rock scene in general, Marianne Faithfull remains a force to be reckoned with. Her songwriting, her singing, and her lack of desire to "sell out" for the mainstream stardom she so richly deserves ensure that her voice and name will echo for generations to come."
Donn Hart | 08/23/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I gotta admitt, Marianne Faithfull sounds great live in front of an audience! I think she sounds better! 'As Tears Go By' is one of my favorite songs of all time, but I didn't quite like it live. What I did like was the way she sang 'Why'd Ya Do It' and 'Broken English' as well the the John Lennon song, 'Working Class Hero' which became another favorite of mine. I don't own this CD, but I rented it at the library, and it's great! Anyone would like this type of music, becasue it's classic rock and doesn't almost everyone like classic rock in a way?"
This started it all for me...
Donn Hart | Boston | 01/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Blazing Away" is a definitive Marianne album. I first heard of her while watching "Thelma and Louise," in which Marianne's "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" is featured. The song got to me in a way nothing ever had. I bought this CD the next day. Regrets? Not by a long shot. Now that I've found a group of terrific folks who share the same obsession, it's all the better. ^_-The album opens with the long, agonized "Les Prisons du Roi," a song of which you can only get the truest effects if you speak French (fortunately, I do...a little). She then goes into an agonized rendition of "Strange Weather," and then rocking versions of "Guilt," "Working Class Hero," and so many more. To hear her perform "As Tears Go By" is to hear a true voice of experience. The husky instrument that is her voice sings each word with utmost care, conveying every bit of loss and desperation her previous recording of the song barely hinted at. This leads up to a knock-em-out-and-leave-em-for-dead live rendition of "Times Square," a desolate tale of addiction and despair. Following is an a cappella of a traditional British song called "She Moved Through the Fair," then the apocalypse: "Broken English," which still leaves me in total awe. This is but a glimpse of Marianne's vast and varied oeuvre, but an excellent one."
Atmospheric torch and twang
Pieter | Johannesburg | 02/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On this 1990 album Marianne Faithfull tells the story of her life up to that moment in time through a series of songs that is more or less autobiographical, in front of an appreciative audience. Most tracks are long and expansive; the first ones being especially slow and mournful. This gives the musicians the opportunity to demonstrate their instrumental prowess, particularly on a track like Guilt.
A melancholy French ballad with a medieval feel opens the album, representing one of three styles found on Blazing Away: the haunting ballad full of gravitas, like the bluesy Strange Weather from the album of the same name, Sister Morphine, As Tears Go By and the traditional folk song She Moves Through the Fair.
The other styles are up-tempo rock, like Working Class Hero, Why'd Ya Do It with its beautiful accordion keyboards, this hard rocking version of Broken English, and country, represented by the terrific torch and twang of Lucy Jordan and the only studio track Blazing Away that has a thematic connection to Times Square of which this live version is magnificent; devoted fans of Faithfull ought to experience it.
This rendition is much more powerful, unhinged and stirring than the original on A Child's Adventure. That is a definite plus of this live album: the versions are sufficiently different to put the songs, like also Broken English, in a new light. For example, the notorious Why'd Ya Do It is less acerbic, done with a wink and a smile.
Blazing Away is a most atmospheric album showing Marianne at her peak in the early 90s. It includes sleeve notes where the artist explains the meaning of the songs in the context of her life. The best compilation of her later work as a rock/torch singer is Perfect Stranger: The Island Anthology whilst her earlier work as a folk/pop singer is captured on The Very Best of and Greatest Hits.