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Patti Smith

Review by Steve Guttenberg
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Patti Smith Land

CD Stock Number: Arista 07822-14708-2


  Patti Smith is the Aretha Franklin of punk. I mean that, Smith's got buckets of soul, she can wail, she believes in every molecule of her androgynous body in her words. The girl is possessed by the music. She's rock and roll, always "outside," outside society, reaching, stretching for the ecstatic release. Land, Patti Smith's new best-of/rarities collection reaches back to earliest work from 1974, and tops off with a live track recorded just a few months ago.

Smith's first record, Horses (1975), was produced by ex Velvets henchman John Cale, and sure 'nuff, that record pretty much transferred the poet cum rock singer mantle from Jim Morrison to Patti Smith. Her words pour out dreams, sex, lust, power, the Earth, raw sensuality, sweet sensuality, liberation, you know, the big stuff. Smith's abetted by her guitarist since 1971, Lenny Kaye. whose raw sound propelled a jagged beauty through the songs. Her personal rhythm machine, Jay Dee Daugherty, steadfastly provides physical release. I suppose it is worth pointing out to you youngsters that not only does Smith predate the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Television, Blondie, she is still out there playing her skinny revolutionary ass off and keeping the music alive.

The set kicks off with "Dancing Barefoot," where she exclaims, "Some strange music draws me in..." You bet it does. Patti's reworking of Van Morrison's "Gloria" should get your blood pressure up, and sure, the set includes "Because the Night," a little ditty she wrote with Bruce Springsteen. Her "vegetarian" song, "Summer Cannibals" is a total hoot. They included my favorite Smith tune, "People have the Power" which she turned into a theme song for Nader's 2000 Presidential run -- we do have the power, right??? The best of CD is topped off by a new track, Prince's "When Doves Cry."

If you are a fan, you already have most of that stuff. If you are just starting out, it is a great introduction to her music. Ah, but Disc Two is chock full of unreleased goodies like the autobiographical "Piss Factory" which she recorded in 1974. A live track from 1978, "25th Floor" is white hot, the band drives her wild, and she proves she's no girl, she's a rock singer. Tom Verlaine's tasty guitar rolls through the moody "Wander I Go," and it's over all much too quickly. Her live recitation of "Spell," an Allen Ginsberg poem, left me gasping for breath. She pours herself into the words and it's a supernatural performance. On "Wing," a song for her dead husband, she takes us to a more peaceful place, "If there's one thing could do for you/You be a wing in heaven blue." The disc ends with a hidden track, a live recording where she sticks out her chin and sings "Tomorrow," you know the tune from Annie, "the sun will come out tomorrow/ we got to hang till tomorrow." Ain't that the truth?

Like I said, Patti always sings straight from her heart -- and her intended target is your soul.


Enjoyment: 90

Sound Quality: 78


































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