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As openings go, Kissin' Time really could not have a worse beginning than 'Sex With Strangers', the first of the much vaunted Beck collaborations After such travesties, Kissin' Time does rally somewhat in its closing moments
Phil Udell, 14 Feb 2002
On first reflection, the similarities between Marianne Faithfull and Tom Jones are fairly obscure, but give it some thought and the same trends start to appear. The ’60s background, the iconic status, the ability to build a musical legend on what is actually very little substance. And now the album of collaborations with the young and the credible.
As openings go, Kissin’ Time really could not have a worse beginning than ‘Sex With Strangers’, the first of the much vaunted Beck collaborations. It’s just awful, an old school electro work with Faithfull reciting the lyrics with a monotone delivery – the effect about as sexy as watching your auntie pole dancing. ‘The Pleasure Song’ follows a similar electronic line and is similarly unsuccessful. ‘Like Being Born’ (another Beck co-write) is a little better, a more elegant acoustic number that allows Faithfull’s Dietrich style vocals more space. A pair of Billy Corgan offerings follows, both of which allow him to indulge in his ever-growing New Order fetish.
It being an unwritten rule that he appears on all such projects, Dave Stewart contributes ‘Song For Nico’, an absolute disaster of a song featuring lyrical howler after howler (“Now it’s 1966 and Andrew’s up to all his tricks/Though she kind of likes Lou Reed he just doesn’t have the need”) and a smug, “Hey! weren’t the ’60s fab” air about it. Jesus, it’s bad. Pulp’s ‘Sliding Through Life On Charm’ is very Pulp but, without the presence of Jarvis Cocker, those pithy lyrics just sound ridiculous.
After such travesties, Kissin’ Time does rally somewhat in its closing moments. ‘Love & Money’ is built around a jaunty little guitar riff but is eventually bludgeoned into submission by that tuneless vocal. Originally featured on Beck’s Mutations album, ‘Nobody’s Fault’ gives proceedings a much needed burst of dignity. Faithfull seems to find a conviction in the song all too lacking elsewhere, repeating the title over and over as Beck and band build to a stately crescendo.
Even better is the album closing title track, a memorable meeting of the minds with Blur returning the lo-fi clanky guitar gospel that they utilised to such effect on ‘Tender’. Rather fitting though that, as the track fades away, it is Damon Albarn’s rasping falsetto that lingers in the memory. Good news then for fans of the Smashing Pumpkins and Blur but as for Marianne Faithfull, perhaps she shouldn’t have bothered. The gleam of that iconic status is starting to look a tad tarnished.