Kicking off 2014 with a bang, a slew of albums and a few rarities from the legend that is Patti Smith....I have a disc of here performing on stage (Cleveland) with Television, but I have not only already posted it (Best Television post ever), it is unfortunately near unlistenable. But, the remainder of the catalog, for my money, is pretty great......her melding of bizarre poetry and punk/new wave rock was a natural for fans of more "intellectual" rock of the Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, et al, and ALSO for the Ramones/Blondie crowd at CBGB's......unique and trail blazing, Deborah Harry did for Smith what Alice Cooper did for Iggy Pop....swipe a good concept/idea and then beat it to death.
In 1974 Smith formed the Patti Smith Band, with Lenny Kaye on guitar, Ivan Kral on bass, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums, and pianist Richard Sohl. Their first single was a cover of "Hey Joe", backed with "Piss Factory".....as much as I have made fun of various bands for "covering" "Hey Joe", a Patti Smith cover not only remakes the song, it turns it inside out and stands it on it's head.....the version of "Hey Joe" included a spoken section regarding then-topical Patricia Hearst ("Patty Hearst, you're standing there in front of the Symbionese Liberation Army flag with your legs spread, I was wondering were you gettin' it every night from a black revolutionary man and his women..."). Which, is not exactly the traditional version, one must admit.
In 1975, the group released the amazing debut album "Horses", a classic by any measure which includes a cover (really) of "Gloria" as well (I've made fun of bands covering THAT one a bunch as well, but this one chills to the bone: "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine......", as well as "Land", a frantic, psychotic rewrite of "Land of 1000 Dances" which is maybe only one of my five or so favorite album tracks ever (I would to describe it or cite portions, but there is no way in hell I could do it justice)....a must hear "classic", I'm going to include the CD version rather than the vinyl rip that I prefer, the CD containing Smith's take on "My Generation"
Next came "Radio Ethiopia", not quite as good as "Horses" but for my cash at least a four-star disc: "Ask the Angels", "Pissing In a River", and "Pumping (My Heart)" are all great tracks that stand the test of time, easily.....it pails, however, in comparison to the stunning "Easter", her best work and one of my ten favorite albums of all.....containing her best known song, the Bruce Springsteen-written "Because the Night", a great song but about a tenth of the genius here.....ALL "must hear" tracks, "Till Victory", the psychotic "Rock N Roll Nigger", the stunning "Privlege (Set Me Free)" and perhaps the highlight (although they are many) the incredible "25th Floor/High on Rebellion".....if you have never heard this album I won't speak to you until you do so.
The original Patti Smith Group would record only one more album, 1979's "Wave", not great but by no means awful, "Frederick", "Dancing Barefoot" and (another stunning cover) "So You Want to be a Rock N Roll Star" could be placed on one of the earlier discs without stickin out too badly.
At this point Smith went into semi-retirement, marrying Sonic Smith of the MC5.....she resumed recording again in the late 1980's, there are several albums available for completists/fanatics in a complete Pirate Bay torrent.
..I am not crazy about them, for the most part, they are decent, but nowhere near as spectacular as the 1970's stuff, thus I am not posting it here. With one exception, in 2007 Smith released "Twelve" which is a covers album.....her brilliance as a cover artist guaranteed at least an interesting effort, tunes like "Gimme Shelter", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", and "White Rabbit" seem to have been written for her alone to cover......unfortunately, this SOUNDS a lot better than it actually IS, and, trust me, I WANTED it to be great.......it's here though I think it needs to be to complete the picture, while the other discs are nowhere near essential (1988's "Dream of Life", 1996's "Gone Again", 1997's "Peace and Noise", 2000's "Gung Ho", 2004's "Trampin'", and 2012's "Banga".....as I said before all are easily attainable from Pirate bay should you wish to hear/have them.
Now, a few of the rarities that I had mentioned, I found somewhere online the first "Hey Joe"/"Piss Factory" single, certainly you must hear this.........."Live Horses" is undated (at least my copy), but it is just what it sounds like, a live performance of the entire "Horses" album....we round his out with a pair of double disc live boots, both from 1979. The first comes from CBGB's, contains a lot of the stuff I'd want (leans a bit heavily on the then-current "Wave") including covers of "All Along the Watchtower"and "Twist and Shout".....the second set if from Essen Germany, a somewhat similar set list but time the covers include a smoking "Gloria" as well as "Jailhouse Rock".....There were actually some WAY cool looking boots on Pirate Bay that I wanted to grab and post here, but they aren't being seeded.....reminds me that if you use Pirate Bay or another Torrent Site, PLEASE seed what you download, it is important to the overall cause of sharing and completing the music collections of all of our online friends! If any of you perchance have any of those Smith Group boots that are sitting there on Pirate bay unseeded, PLEASE share them, either here (in the comments section where everyone can evaluate them) or email them to me and I'll upload them......lotta cool stuff over there that I wish could have been included in this post.
Wasn't sure how I wanted to do this....I don't have those 1988-2012 albums, have heard them and as I said they don't much get it done for me.....I guess I could have downloaded them and presented a "complete" picture, but I think the stuff I have put up here is truly "classic" material of the era, and of the scene....these discs are still in fairly heavy rotation around here, please comment and enjoy the hell out of these as much as I do!
I know of at least two songs of which Smith is the subject, "In Thee" by Blue Oyster Cult, and "Crow" by the Jim Carroll band......there are probably others. A true artist, and a great one.
Happy New Year and may the odds be ever in your favor!
1974 SINGLE-01 Hey Joe/02 Piss Factory
HORSES-01 Gloria/02 Redondo Beach/03 Birdland/04 Free Money/05 Kimberly/06 Break It Up/07 Land: a) Horses b) Land of a Thousand Dances c) La Mer (De)/08 Elegie/09 My Generation (live bonus track)
RADIO ETHIOPIA-01 Ask the Angels/02 Ain't It Strange/03 Poppies/04 Pissing In a River/05 Pumping (My Heart)/06 Distant Fingers/07 Radio Ethiopia/08 Abyssinia/09 Chiklets
EASTER-01 Till Victory/02 Space Monkey/03 Because the Night/04 Ghost Dance/05 Babelouge/06 Rock N Roll Nigger/07 Privilege (Set Me Free)/08 We Three/09 25th Floor/10 High on Rebellion/11 Easter/12 Godspeed
WAVE-01 Frederick/02 Dancing Barefoot/03 So You Want To Be a Rock n Roll Star/04 Hymn/05 Revenge/06 Citizen Ship/07 Seven Ways of Going/08 Broken Flag/09 Wave/10 Fire of Unknown Origin/11 54321/Wave
LIVE HORSES-01 Gloria/02 Redondo Beach/03 Birdland/04 Free Money/05 Break It Up/06 Land/07 Elegie/08 My Generation
CBGB 3/11/79 DISC 1-01 Land: Horses/Land of 1000 Dances/02 Redondo Beach/03 Fire of Unknown Origin/04 Kimberly/05 Dancing Barefoot/06 Space Monkey/07 Privilege (Set Me Free)/08 25th Floor/09 Cold Turkey/10 For Your Love
CBGB 3/11/79 DISC 2-01 Revenge/02 Frederick/03 Seven Ways of Going/04 Poppies/05 All Along the Watchtower/06 Spider and Fly 1985/07 So You Want to Be a Rock N Roll Star/08 54321/Wave/09 Twist and Shout/10 My Generation
ESSEN GERMANY 4/21/79 DISC 1-01 Intro/02 Rock N Roll Star/03 Hymn/04 Rock N Roll Nigger/05 Privilege (Set Me Free)/06 Dancing barefoot/07 Redondo Beach/08 25th Floor/09 Revenge
ESSEN GERMANY 4/21/79 DISC 2-01 54321/Wave/02 Pumping (My Heart)/03 Seven Ways of Going/04 Because the Night/05 Frederick/06 Jailhouse Rock/07 Gloria/08 My Generation
TWELVE-01 Are You Experienced?/02 Everybody Wants To Rule the World/03 Helpless/04 Gimme Shelter/05 Within You Without You/06 White Rabbit/07 Changing of the Guard/08 The Boy in the Bubble/09 Soul Kitchen/10 Smells Like Teen Spirit/11 Midnight Rider/12 Pastime Paradise