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Elegant Decadence

Marianne Faithfull - Kissin' Time
(Virgin Records)
3 1/ 2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 17, 2002

By Tony Bonyata

Underground rock heroine Marianne Faithfull may be best remembered by many as the naked girl on the fur rug during The Rolling Stones drug bust in the '60s, but this 55-year old survivor is finally poised to make a name for herself with her uninitiated - with the help of younger artists like Beck, the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, Blur's Damon Albarn, Dave Stewart and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker.
Marianne Faithfull On Kissin' Time, her first album in almost 3 years, Faithfull has delivered a pleasing album filled with strong songs built on a foundation of electronica, that sounds neither dated nor forced, but rather provocative and refreshingly hip.
While the modern sounds she receives from her younger admirers are obvious, they still manage to leave enough room for Marianne's soul to shine through. Beck's knob-twiddling and percolating beats on the coy "Sex With Strangers," are the perfect foil to Faithfull's dry, raspy voice in search of meaningless physical love, while she and Beck coldly revisit "Nobody's Fault," originally from his more subdued album Mutations.
The hymn-like "I'm On Fire," co-written with Billy Corgan is a pure slice of grandiose Pumpkins-like pop. Likewise, Corgan's simpler pop sensibilities shine through on the bittersweet "Wherever I Go" and also help crack a sunshiny smile on the '60s nugget "I'm Into Something Good."
On the title track, the quirky funk of Blur provides a springy mattress for Faithfull's naked, passionate vocals to roll around among Albarn's high-pitched moans. Marianne leaves her famous friends behind, though, on "The Pleasure Song," where her deep, detached vocals snake through the primal rhythms and foreboding electronica. But it's the number "Sliding Through A Life On Charm," written by Jarvis Cocker and based on Faithfull's 1994 autobiography, that embodies the character of not only this album but the brazen Marianne as well as Cocker himself. Both Cocker and Faithfull possess an air of upper-class elegance along with a seedy sense of street decadence, which as this number proves, is strangely able to bring out the voyeur in the best of us.
With an album filled with unique and captivating vocals, atmospheric and edgy compositions and a host of new beaus to play with, Marianne Faithful proves to a lot more than just Mick's onetime muse.

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