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Marianne Faithfull - No Exit album review

Louche live album from rock-lore royalty

Marianne Faithfull No Exit album cover

Fifty years into a colourful if chequered career, Faithfull sounds like she’s lived: her already gravelly voice now teeters on the brink of sighing and yawning, yet it remains defiantly rich with character.

No Exit is a live CD-DVD package where the visual element works better, concert footage from Budapest and London providing atmosphere that complements her, the excellent band and the moody songs. It also conveys her status as a living legend, something that doesn’t fully translate on the album alone. Despite fine musicianship from the likes of Rob Ellis and Ed Harcourt, it seems tinny.

Whereas the DVD offers a longer set, including jewels in her crown like Broken English, the CD selects just 45 minutes, highlighting more recent material and covers, before sauntering into a forlorn As Tears Go By, a resilient Sister Morphine and a finale of The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan. In the last, the reference to Lucy ‘at the age of thirty seven’ now, in context, makes Ms Jordan sound enviably young. The real triumph here, of course, is that Faithfull’s still standing.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.