Come My Way
Decca, UK, 1965
Design: Chris O’Dell
Cover photography: Gered Mankowitz
Can a recording artist release their first two, very different, albums on the same day and get away with it? Well, in the ’60s you could, au naturel.
In a bid to escape her shallow, NME Instamatic image as Andrew Loog Oldham’s “angel with big…” attributes, Marianne Faithfull insisted on releasing Come My Way, her serious and rather earnest folk album, alongside Marianne Faithfull, the album that her managers and pop-puppet masters at Decca demanded.
Released on April 15th 1965 and, as was also the case for Marianne Faithfull, produced by ALO cohort Tony Calder, Come My Way, somewhat against the odds, reached #12 in the UK charts, higher than its poppier counterpart. It consisted of wall-to-wall folk tunes, most of them trad arr favourites; pleasant enough but not that mind-blowing.
The album was designed by Chris O’Dell, a photographer who’d snapped the teen Marianne as far back as ’60 when she was still a convent schoolgirl. Although his memories of this time are a bit sketchy, he was far from enamoured by the way Marianne was packaged and stilted and he soon left the Oldham fold. “I went on to take some photographs of The Rolling Stones and some one hit wonders for Oldham, but he wasn’t very good at paying, so I packed it up in the end,” O’Dell recalls. “Working in the pop music business in the ’60s was no picnic, and I was happy to be able to follow a career in another area.”
Whereas Marianne Faithfull features a pretty and cutesy, if slightly pouty, portrait by David Bailey on its cover, the overall look of Come My Way is more serious. Gered Mankowitz photographed Marianne extensively during ’65 and had an easy working relationship with her. Being the mid-60s, Mankowitz was able to simply head out with his camera and his subject without any particular record company brief. “I think it was the third or fourth session I did with Marianne,” he explains. “We had complete freedom, no concept or art direction, just the two of us in a well-known pub that I had been aware of for a while. She was very natural in front of the camera and exuded a powerful yet innocent sexuality.”
The photo session (in The Salisbury Arms, Covent Garden, still worth a visit, intrepid travellers!) yielded a number of shots (no pun intended). Mankowitz’s preferred cover image – an absolute beauty of Marianne surrounded by Victorian splendour – was rejected by Decca due to the reflection of some curious male onlookers being visible. They chose a less exuberant image of Marianne in a pensive mood, a slightly gloomy black & white image taken by a window in the pub. Marianne looks imploringly straight at the viewer while absentmindedly playing with the etched windowpane.
A less downbeat portrait was used for the back – another Mankowitz shot, this time from IBC Studios in Portland Place while Marianne was recording the album. A natural picture with a slightly cheesy grin, it demonstrates the youth of the subject and lifts the overall sober mood.
It would be interesting to see how the album would have looked if Marianne had had any kind of artistic control over it; would she have attempted to match the somewhat limited power she had over her musical direction with the same control over her image as an artist? In later years her album covers certainly became less winsome.
A period piece in both look and sound, Come My Way perfectly encapsulates where she was at in ’65, mixing innocence with a purposeful pursuit of self-expression.
Gitte Morten © 2017.
This article was published in Shindig! Magazine, May 2017.