Marianne Faithfull doing Melanie Safka doing Marianne Faithfull is what you get when Mick Jagger's ex-girlfriend performs on a majestic version of "Ruby Tuesday" backed up by the London Symphony Orchestra. It's a reunion of sorts for Jagger and Faithfull, as the lead singer of the Rolling Stones follows his ex with a similar version of "Angie," with deeper textures than the original pop hit. This elaborate package comes in a cardboard sleeve with six pages of photos and liner notes, and is a worthwhile addition to the Rolling Stones' catalog of music. Sure there are "symphonic" albums of music by Creed, the Beatles, Depeche Mode, heck, even Symphonic Star Trek, but this package, all in black with silver ink, of course, is something special. "Angie" is downright eerie. Perhaps the late Michael Hutchence wasn't the best choice to open up the voices, beginning with his rendition of "Under My Thumb," but at least he's not awful. It's tough to make such diverse compositions as "She's a Rainbow," "Gimme Shelter," and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" melt into each other with little definition, but they do that here, fading into background Muzak without a cutting voice like Faithfull to pronounce the mood. Faithfull walks away the star of the show on this project produced by Chris Kimsey, a triumphant survivor who witnessed some of this music's emergence the first time around. In that light, having the operatic Maire Brennan vocal on "As Tears Go By" comes off as a twisted joke. Both singers who hit with the song are obviously available and were at these sessions. Wouldn't it have been the perfect time for a duet? Or at least let Melanie have a shot at it. "Sympathy for the Devil" fares much worse, the hellish London Children's Choir and London Voices so dark that Jerry Hadley's vocal comes off as parody. Since Bryan Ferry already ruined the song on his solo debut, allow him the chance to bring some marquee value to the proceedings. His presence on the orchestrated Beatles soundtrack All This and World War II was a delight. "Dandelion" does work well in this setting, a song so strong it breaks through on its own. All the music is listenable, and how could it not be? These titles have stood the test of time, and with the quality players there are passages that are unique, though nothing as stunning as Jimmy Miller's crossfade on "You Can't Always Get What You Want" or that song's brash use of a choir to sing about a drug deal. The package is dedicated to Brian Jones and, despite its pomp, there are moments of grandeur.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione
feat: Michael Hutchence
feat: Marianne Faithfull