Sunday, April 4, 2010

Patti Smith

This week's artist of the week is one third of the classic 70s New York punk poet triumvirate. She was easily the most successful of the crew, breaking through with classic albums and hit singles despite her uncompromising vision which mixed beatnick-inspired poetry with raw, mangy punk rock. This week's artist of the week is...


Hopefully everyone reading this already knows Patti Smith, knows that she's really cool, that Horses is the shiat, etc, etc. If not, well, get on that, go download Horses, her killer first album which was produced by my boy John Cale and featured my other boy Tom Verlaine.

So, Patti Smith started up just reading poetry while someone played guitar behind her (which she still does sometimes, see: The Coral Sea) before she got into writing songs, often with the help of very talented musicians like Tom Verlaine, Allen Lanier, Lenny Kaye, or, later on, her husband, former-MC5 member Fred "Sonic" Smith. Before she got famous for her own music, she was also a music journalist, contributing to magazines like Rolling Stone, as well as a sometime-lyricist for Blue Oyster Cult.

Anyway, Patti Smith got really famous when her single "Because The Night" became a big hit. Interestingly though, the song was originally written by Bruce Springsteen, though Smith changed some of the lyrics. Kinda tics me off a bit that Patti Smith's only big hit was a Bruce Springsteen song that he kind of just tossed away...

That album that it's on, Easter, that's a pretty solid one. And I'd always read that Radio Ethiopia was kind of a sophomore slump but I heard it for the first time recently and its great, I'd definitely put it up there with her best albums, that's why you keep seeing it on vinyl display shelves. The album she did with "Sonic" Smith, Dream of Hope is good. Gone Again's a little too squeaky clean but its got its moments. I haven't heard Trampin' but I hear it's really good, if anyone wants to send it to me, I'd totally appreciate it, for some reason I can't find it online.

Also, her poetry reading recordings can be quite entertaining and just plain good. The Coral Sea is a little lengthy, but check out some of her other stuff, it's easy to find. She released a book recently which barely got any publicity called Just Kids about her and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe growing up. It's probably good and I'll probably read it at some point.

So yeah, Patti Smith, she's alright.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Am reading Just Kids, one of the best books by an artist growing up in the sixties, and finding her voice(s). With depth and clarity, she sits you down at her side and allows her experiences to be both witnessed and felt by the reader. Bravo,