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Baker's Dozen

Music For The Lizard Brain: Ty Bulmer Of NYPC's Favourite Albums
Ben Hewitt , October 8th, 2013 06:41

With their new album out yesterday, the band's singer-songwriter picks out her own top long-players


Marianne Faithfull - Broken English
I’ve always been fascinated by people who are very beautiful who destroy it in a wilful way; that self-destructive idea, especially when we know what a currency beauty is: it has a power to open doors like nothing else has. We all know people who’ve got where they are because they look a certain way, especially nowadays – celebrity magazines, for example, are all based on the idea of who’s losing weight and who’s gaining weight. It’s a shame because, unfortunately, feminism is still seen by some as a dirty word and the idea that you don’t want to be judged on how big your tits are or how young you look makes people feel uncomfortable. It’s ridiculous.

So with Marianne Faithfull… I don’t know how wilful it was because she obviously got massively into drugs post-Mick Jagger and was a heroin addict, but she also destroyed her voice completely. If you think of pure how it sounds on ‘As Tears Go By’, as an English folk-ballad, and then put it alongside ‘Broken English’ then her voice sounds completely fucked. I’ve always been so incredibly protective of my voice – I was classically trained and I warm up for 45 minutes before going onstage because I still want to be singing when I’m 60 – so the idea that you’d see that as your path in life, and then destroy that instrument … it’s like Jimi Hendrix taking a mallet and mashing his fingers. So I really like how she was able to come out of that self-destructive experience and make a record in which, obliquely, she references her own experiences – songs about betrayed women and ruining your life – I wouldn’t say it’s a brave thing to do, but there’s a vulnerability to it and showing your humanity. I can’t think of many artists know that would come from that point and do that. She was able to do what her contemporary Nico couldn’t: her later stuff was all terrible, and she was obviously completely still in the grip of an addiction she never managed to shake. Marianne Faithfull came out on the other side, and I think this is a seminal record for female musicianship in terms of it saying, "Yeah, I’ve made some really fucking stupid mistakes". I see a direct correlation between Broken English and Rid Of Me. It’s ugly and visceral.