For Marianne Faithfull, 1979's Broken English was a radical departure, featuring a contemporary fusion of rock, punk, New Wave and dance, with liberal use of synthesizers. No one was prepared for the transformation of Marianne Faithfull's innocent flower child image, her immediately preceding albums had been in a relatively gentle folk or country and western style. Those who listened were in for a surprise, especially those who first heard her in the '60s as the virginal voice of her boyfriend, Mick Jagger's, "As Tears Go By."
When seemingly she had disappeared entirely, she emerged with this dark but definitely musically modern work. And her voice! After years of drug abuse, her voice was in a lower register, far raspier, and had a more world-weary quality than in the past that matched the often raw emotions expressed in the newer songs.
Broken English was widely hailed by critics and audiences alike on its release, a successful album without the aid of a huge hit single. The album reached # 57 on the UK album charts and # 82 in the US. The album contains some of her most famous songs, including the title track and "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," and was notable for the controversy surrounding the final number "Why D'Ya Do It." Although the boundaries have shifted in the decades since this album's release, the language is still shocking, the album is still as potent as ever and remains Marianne's masterpiece, and one of the best albums by a female vocalist ever.