"Oh, doctor please. I drink and I take drugs. I love sex and I move around a lot." These are the opening words of this album, and as the summation of a gloriously misspent youth, they're kind of hard to beat, cementing Marianne Faithfull's claim to the title of Greatest Living Englishwoman. Her first album since 20th Century Blues offers up a diverse collection of material. An old Roger Waters composition, "Incarceration of a Flower Child," opens with a musical phrase he would revisit, 15 years later, in "Your Possible Pasts" (from the Final Cut album). Faithfull interprets it as a simple lament to lost innocence, the days of "good dope and cheap wine"--though its chorus rather deliberately punctures the dream ("It's gonna get old in the 1970s"). And with its mocking air of self-pity, its ruined grandeur, Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song" might have been written with her in mind. But it's that title track and "Electra," two ruthless slices of self-examination ("You'd think she owns the streets of Dublin"), which truly compel attention. Singular, magnificent. --Andrew McGuire
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All in all, a great album
The atmospheric Marathon Kiss, written & co-produced by Daniel Lanois and with Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, is truly magnificent, the distilled essence of the early to mid 1980s era Faithfull when she maintained a creative peak with three consecutive albums on Island Records. Electra, Wilder Shores of Love & the romantic Great Expectations are similar down-tempo numbers of lost love and yearning.
Her exquisite interpretations lend new meaning to Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man, the Roger Waters' song & For Wanting You, the Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition. The album concludes with Marianne's recital of the poem After The Ceasefire. Vagabond Ways is on a par with her classic trilogy of Broken English, A Child's Adventure and Dangerous Acquaintances - another radiant jewel in her crown and a definite five star album. Marianne discusses this album in her book Memories, Dreams and Reflections.
Strongest in the picture are the more melodic songs such as "Electra", "Wilder Shores of Love" and "Great Expectations". In a class by itself, however, is the Leonard Cohen song "Tower of Song" - a fantastic song which Faithfull's interpretation provides full justice.
Interestingly, of course, is the obscure Roger Waters song "Incarnation of a Flower Child"