Listen: Sister Morphine / Marianne Faithfull
Seeing Mark Miller Mundy’s name mentioned on a Facebook friend’s page today, combined with the chill of Fall setting into New York’s weather, brought on the idea of a BROKEN ENGLISH listen. Chris Blackwell once mentioned during a company retreat that Marianne Faithfull was the perfect example of an Autumn/Winter artist, siting Toots & The Maytals as being more adapted to Spring/Summer releases. The concept always stuck.
Fact is though, a thick UK 7″ pressing sounds better than any album, any day. Disagree? Don’t even. A/B ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’ or ‘Broken English’ against their album counterparts and see for yourself. Most of humanity probably wouldn’t notice but to me, it’s blatant. So over to the singles shelf I went, and in the process, realized it’d been way long since the Island version of ‘Sister Morphine’, re-recorded during those BROKEN ENGLISH sessions, had made it’s way out my speakers.
Okay, so this clearly didn’t stand up to the rest of that album, despite the obvious logic that it’s subject matter might perfectly fit. When you think about it, the song was always anchored by a clunky blues arrangement. God love The Rolling Stones, but they’re basically boogie woogie to the bone. So whether it be their version or Marianne’s original with them on backing, the songwriting blueprint was hard to shake.
Mark Miller Mundy clearly couldn’t find a way round it either and this was therefore relegated to the outtake mausoleum at the time. Luckily, the scorn in her delivery made it a worthwhile B side not long later, in ’82, when ‘Broken English’ got a UK re-release, thus providing the single with it’s own little corner of history. And the picture perfect sleeve didn’t hurt.