Now as regular readers may know I am rather partial to a choice bit of swearing and a good bit of Swearage* (copyright 1537, all rights reserved) is a sure fire way to my heart. Marianne Faithfull Why D’ya Do It / Broken English therefore automatically qualifies as another of my favourite 12″s. An unscientific listen through just now netted 9 of the little beauties.
Now good ladies and gentlemen of the internet I am not afraid to confront such evil so, here we have balls, one fucking, a brace of cocks, a solitary fanny **, a singular snatch, one dick and one each of pussy and cunt. Help me, I’m 41 years old and I couldn’t help sniggering when I typed that. Don’t blame my parents, they tried to keep me away from records with swearing in them, they really did, exposing me to Donovan from an early age. In fact for this little one you can blame my uncle Alastair (he of Rush fandom fame) who played me this one afternoon when I was about 17 as he and his mate told me how they used to blast it out of the Taunton paint shop they were working in at the time. I stumbled across it in a second-hand shop in Chester in 1997 and fulfilled my destiny of owning it.
It helps of course that ‘Why D’ya Do it’ is such a brilliant, snarling piece of music. The sort of bitter, scornful, spiteful record that most punks could only have dreamed of making, but then Marianne Faithfull despite her ties to the Stones and her aristocratic mum always seemed a bit too jagged to shoe horn into any 60’s nostalgia trip. The music is a slightly woozy, spiky reggae-tinged affair punctured by some raw guitars in the mix but it is Faithfull’s voice which makes this song (and the bad words of course). Her singing is extraordinary here, she spits, she snarls, she drawls, she enunciates clearly, she, umm, huskies (I won’t bother copyrighting that one!). I found it astonishing when I read that the words were written by someone else, Heathcote Williams, she sells it so convincingly. I can’t think of a more realistic depiction of sexual jealousy and anger in song – no, not even in the entire canon of Faster Pussycat. As she puts it, so nicely,
Why’d ya do it, she said, why’d ya do what you did,
Betray my little oyster for such a low bitch.
In fact this is another one of my IFS (Inappropriate Funeral Songs) I am considering saddling my mourners with one day in the distant future ***.
Now the flip side of this 12″ ‘Broken English’ is (whispers) even better, despite the handicap of not having any swearage at all. Fact. The lyrics in fact are pretty damn minimal full stop, this one is all about the atmosphere. Icy, metallic (as in zinc, not Venom), treading a fine line between new wave, pop and elegy. Again Faithfull’s voice is the star turn here rasping, resigned and melodious. I love the opening lines
Could have come through anytime,
Cold lonely, puritan
What are you fighting for ?
It’s not my security
I also think this song would be perfect sampling material, that bass line could embelish a thousand raps. But I digress, this is one record, two classy acts (plus two cocks, one fanny etc etc).
* Not to be confused with sewerage, please.
** In the English sense of lady garden, rather than the US meaning.
*** Along with Soft Cell ‘Sex Dwarf’ and ‘Glad to see you go’ by the Ramones.