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Patti Smith


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce art-punk rock (occasionally spoken word performance art)

Status:

Most recent release, Banga (2012)

See also:

Patti Smith's site

Wikipedia's entry on Patti Smith

A fan page

Comparisons:

She is a total original. She's the one hundreds of others, like PJ Harvey, have been compared to.

Covers/own material:

Own and cowritten, occasional covers

General comments:

Patti Smith's voice is rather slight but very intense. The music is a mixture of many styles and often takes surprising turns. (jbr@casetech.dk)

patti smith is a new york city poet cum performer whose 1975 album horses is regularly cited as an influence by folks like courtney love (hole) and michael stipe (R.E.M.). she has a handful of other records which, while not as good, are still pretty fine. (woj@smoe.org)

I've loved Patti since my cousin first played me Wave some 18 years ago—and actually before that when I heard the single "Because the Night". For those of you not familiar with Patti you really should check her out. Mellowed now with age, she's still doing some incredible music and makes most of today's female alternative rockers look like pale imitations. When Patti sings of anger and angst, it comes from experience, is believable, and eloquent, where Alanis's and others' seems like playacting. (jjhanson@att.net)

Patti's got such an amazing gruff, growly voice, and an odd, angular presence. I could think of other people I'd seen or heard who were clearly influenced by her, most notably Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde). And, oddly enough, I couldn't get Nick Cave comparisons out of my mind either. (neal)

Patti's "Dancing Barefoot" is great. When I was younger, "We Three" brought tears to my eyes—partially perhaps because of the situation I was in. "25th Floor"? The "Pissing in a River" song (is that its title?) All great emotional songs. (rholmes@cs.stanford.edu)

She is the one performer who I can truly say changed my life and the way I looked at the world when I was 15 and heard Horses for the first time. (valrichardson@igc.org)

Comments about live performance:

I caught Patti Smith at the Bowery Ballroom. And, without going into too much detail, let's just say that I could've died right after the show and I would've been content with my life.
     The show was amazing. I've never seen her before. I understand that in the recent past she hasn't performed older material (anyone know, is this true?). But she did "Seven Ways of Going," "Looking For You (I Was)" and "People Have the Power" along with stuff from Peace and Noise and Gone Again. For encores, it was "Because the Night" and "Rock 'N Roll Nigger." And did I mention she was in an incredibly good mood? She read from her new poetry anthology, talked and joked with the audience and, well, just had fun.
     Great show. (c. 1997, Plasterofstevie@aol.com)

An intense show from someone I thought I'd never get to see perform live. She has lost none of her fire with age—if anything, it's burning even more brightly these days. She and her band rocked the house such as Toad's hasn't seen in a long time. A great night. (12/01, meth@smoe.org)

Patti Smith & band at Damrosch Park 24th. It rocked, man. Yeah, this'll be a carefully crafted review :)
     The quieter songs have fallen out of my head, but: Jimi's "Are you experienced?" rocked when she put a leg on the monitor and enquired as to our experience, and rocked as she squawked a clarinet solo; "Beneath the Southern Cross" built up into its glorious peak, rocking in a more nuanced manner; "Ghost dance" ("we shall live again") rocked, with touches of a Quaker sing-a-long or other such niceness; "Because the night" and "People have the power" demonstrably rocked because people punched the air (the official symptom of rockingness); "Free money" totally rocked, trouncing all the songs that merely rocked, with Lenny Kaye in his black punk t-shirt and tight black stove pipes and gray hair rocking out; "Smells like Teen Spirit" was sad and gorgeous and rocking ("my libido, my libido, my libido"—she emphasized that rather than "a denial, a denial, a denial"); oddly, they were joined on this number by Sam Bush on mandolin and the brilliant Jerry Douglas on dobro. Did Patti think "hmm, he plays with Alison Krauss's Union Station—he'll be just right for Nirvana." It worked, since everything is dominated by Patti. and finally, "Gloria," which is so cool that of course it rocks. "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine." no "Dancing barefoot" or "Rock and roll nigger" :(
     After spelling G-L-O-R-I-A, Patti attempted to spell out New York - "N - E - Y." She stopped and cracked up.
     "If you see me walking down the stairs into the subway and my shoelace is undone, tap me on the shoulder and say 'Patti, your shoelace is undone', because I'm clumsy."
     There was a mad punk-dancing 80-year-old, white beard jutting up and down as he flung himself about. Cute.
     Patti's so cool and (yes) rocking that I don't mind the preaching and lack of subtlety and pretentiousness and odd laughable lines and self-importance. She harnesses such power and passion through the music. I tuned out a bit during some of the slower songs :)
     Yey free summer concerts. (8/08, k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Recommended first album:

Horses, Easter, Wave, Gone Again, and Gung Ho are all essential. Start with any of them. (Neile)

Recordings:


Horses

Release info:

1975—Arista—ARCD-8362

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Patti Smith

Guest artists:

Richard Sohl—piano
Lenny Kaye—lead guitar
Ivan Kral—guitar, bass
Jay Dee Daugherty—drums

Produced by:

John Cale

Comments:

This is one of those albums that redefines music. This is fierce and creative, mixing spoken word and powerful song, all done by a—gasp!—woman, who while obviously attractive is not conventionally pretty or trying to be. She's face-on and uncompromising just like her steel-spined, ferociously alive, music. A knock out album—a classic. (Neile)

Radio Ethiopia

As Patti Smith Group

Release info:

1976—Arista—ARCD8161

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Produced by:

Jack Douglas

Comments:

Tori Amos asks "Is she still pissing in a river?" Well, hell yes, she still is. This is the album that song is on. While it's not as powerful as Horses that preceded it and Easter that follows it, it is still definitely a strong album. (Neile)

Easter

As Patti Smith Group

Release info:

1978—Arista—ARCD 8166

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Patti Smith—vocals, duo-sonic
Lenny Kaye—stratocaster, bass vocals
Ivan Kral—le paul, bass, vocals
Jay Dee Daugherty—drums, percussion
Bruce Brody—keyboards, synthesizers

Guest artists:

Jim Maxwell—bagpipes on "Easter"

Produced by:

Jimmy Iovine

Comments:

Another classic, powerhouse of an album with such tracks as "Til Victory", "Space Monkey", "Rock N Roll Nigger". "Because The Night", a song she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen, is on here, too, and is probably the most famous of her early songs. (Neile)

Wave

As Patti Smith Group

Release info:

1979—Arista—7822-18546-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Jay Dee Daugherty
Lenny Kaye—bass, autoharp
Ivan Kral—cello
Patti Smith—vocals
Richard Sohl

Guest artists:

r.e.f.m.—piano
dnv—ocean
Todd Rundgren—bass
Andi Ostrowe—timpani drums

Produced by:

Todd Rundgren

Comments:

Very highly recommended if you like slightly odd music. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Another indispensable, unique album. (Neile)


Dream of Life

Release info:

1988—Arista—ARCD 8453

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Patti Smith—vocals
Fred Sonic Smith—guitars
Richard Sohl—keyboards
Jay Dee Daugherty—drums

Guest artists:

Robin Nash—background vocals on 1 track
Andi Ostrowe—background vocals on 1 track
Margaret Ross—harp on 1 track
Jesse Levy—cello on 1 track
Malcolm West—bass on 1 track
Gary Rasmussen—bass on 3 tracks
Bob Glaub—bass on 1 track
Kasim Sultan—bass on 3 tracks
Sammy Figueroa—percussion on 3 tracks
Hearn Gadbois—percussion on 3 tracks
Crusher Bennett—percussion on 1 track

Produced by:

Fred Smith & Jimmy Iovine

Comments:

While still a good and worthwhile album, this doesn't have the punch of her earlier or later work, and has about the only Patti Smith song I've ever grown tired of, "People Have The Power". (Neile)

Gone Again

Release info:

1996—Arista—07822—18747-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Patti Smith—vocals, acoustic guitar
Jay Dee Daugherty—drums
Lenny Kaye—acoustic and electric guitars
Tony Shanahan—keyboards
Luis Resto—keyboards

Guest artists:

Tom Verlaine—electric guitar on 3 tracks, lead guitar on 1 track
Oliver Ray—electric guitar on 1 track, whistle on 1 track, feedback on 1 track, acoustic guitar on 1 track
Eileen Ivers—fiddle on 1 track
John Cale—organ on 1 track
Jeff Buckley—voice on 1 track, essrage on 1 track
Jane Scarpantoni—cello on 1 track
Sperbs—guitar on 1 track
Rick Kiernan—musical saw on 1 track
Whit Smith—lead guitar on 1 track
Malcolm Burn—guitar, dulcimer on 1 track
Kimberly Smith—mandolin on 1 track
César Díaz—electric guitar on 1 track
Hearn Gadbois—percussion on 1 track

Produced by:

Malcolm Burn and Lenny Kaye

Comments:

This album sounds a lot like Dream of Life, but much less optimistic and more sorrowful—to be expected after the death of husband Fred. First heard the song "Summer Cannibals" on the radio and didn't like it much, but it's really grown on me. (jjhanson@att.net)

Patti Smith proves that she can be every bit as much of a knockout now as she was years ago. Blows Dream of Life right out of the water. An amazing album. (Neile)


Peace and Noise

Release info:

1997—Arista—07822-18986-1

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Patti Smith—vocals, clarinet
J.D. Daugherty—drums, organ, harmonic, bass
Lenny Kaye—electric & acoustic guitars, bass, pedal steel
Oliver Ray—electric & acoustic guitars, national duolian
Tony Shanahan—bass, piano, drums

Guest artists:

Michael Stipe (R.E.M.)—background vocals on 1 track

Comments:

Somehow I was expecting this album to be happier than Gone Again, the album recorded immediately after Fred Smith's death, but it carries on in the same vein, but with less emotion. It is a rough, almost grunge rock n' roll album that plods along without the punk spirit Patti's early albums had, or the rare hopeful optimism exhibited on Dream of Life. Even lyrically, the album seems to fall short of Patti's poetic talents. Next time out, I hope Patti spends a little more time in the studio (this album was released only one year after Gone Again) and comes up with something a little more ambitious. (jjhanson@att.net)

I love Gone Again and Gung Ho, but this album just doesn't make that much of an impression on me. I enjoy listening to it, but it hasn't got its hooks into me like Gone Again, Gung Ho, or her earlier, classic work. Like Dream of Life, this is good but not as insistent as my favourites of her work. Still, any Patti Smith has value to my ears. (Neile)

This album immediately caught my interest when I heard it being played at my favourite local record shop. I only needed a few minutes with one of the shop's headphones and CD players to decide that I just had to buy it. It has this rough edge to it, which makes it ideal to play at work when I try to be productive. In musical style, I tend to compare this album to some of the works of P.J. Harvey. Very good. An album I do not hesitate for a second to put in my CD player. (Alvin.Brattli@phys.uit.no)


Gung Ho

Release info:

2000—Arista—07822-14618-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Patti Smith—vocals, acoustic guitar
Lenny Kaye—electric & acoustic guitars
Oliver Ray—electric & acoustic guitars
Tony Shanahan—bass, keyboards
Jay Dee Daugherty—drums

Guest artists:

Skaila Kanga—harp on 1 track
Grant Hart—piano, farfise on 1 track
Jackson Smith—solo guitar on 1 track
Tom Verlaine—solo guitar on 1 track
Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Wade Raley—background vocals on 1 track
Rebecca Weiner—violin on 1 track
Kimberly Smith—mandolin on 1 track
Ben E. Franklin—penny whistle on 1 track

Produced by:

Gil Norton

Comments:

This is Patti Smith back to the height of her powers. I think I like this one even better than her fine Gone Again, or at least as well, and at least as well as my favourites of her early work. I can't believe how wonderful her reappearance is. We've listened to this steadily since we got it. Classic rock. She proves she will be able to rock and to galvanize people into the new millennium. (Neile)

Land (1975-2002)

Release info:

2002—Arista—07822-14708-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Patti Smith fans

Group members:

Patti Smith

Guest artists:

various

Comments:

This is a collection of live songs, singles, and demos, and includes Patti Smith's amazing cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry." Highly recommended for Patti Smith fans. (Neile)

Trampin'

Release info:

2002—Columbia—8 2796-90330-2 9

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Patti Smith fans only

Group members:

Patti Smith—vocals, clarinet

Guest artists:

Lenny Kate—guitar, pedal stell
< Jay Dee Daugherty—drums, percussion on all, guitar on 1 track
Oliver Ray—guitar, farfisa
Tony Shanahan—bass, keyboards, hammond b3, backing vocals
Rebecca Wiener—violin on 2 tracks
Jesse Smith—piano on 1 track

Produced by:

Patti Smith and her band

Comments:

This is the one Patti Smith album that just doesn't work for me. The politics seem stiff and didactic, and the tunes a little too predictable. It's not a bad album, but she's usually so much better than this. Pick up Gone Again or Gung Ho instead. (Neile)

Banga

Release info:

2012—Columbia—88697 22217 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Patti Smith—vocals

Guest artists:

Lenny Kaye—electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
Jay Dee Daugherty—drums; mandocello (7)
Tony Shanahan—bass, keyboards, vocals
Tom Verlaine—solo guitar (2, 9)
Jack Petruzzelli—solo (3); guitar (1, 4, 5, 7); Hammond B-3 (9); vocals
Jackson Smith—solo (6); guitar (2, 4, 8, 12); dog track (5)
Johnny Depp—guitars, drums on opening (5)
Jesse Smith—piano (8, 12)
Louie Appel—drums (1, 6)
Rob Morsberger—piano (6); string arrangement and conducting (1, 6)
Maxim Moston—violin
Entcho Todorov—violin
Hiroko Taguchi—viola
Dave Eggar—cello

Produced by:

Patti Smith, Tony Shanahan, Lenny Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty

Comments:

It pains me to see this [on my year-end list of misses], maybe it will grow on me like earlier albums did. (raschee@gmail.com)

Further info:

Info on how to subscribe to The Babel list, her mailing list>

VIDEOS

Patti Smith has released the following DVDs:

  • Under Review (2008)
  • Dream of Life (2009)
  • Live at Montreux 2005 (2012)
BOOKS

Patti Smith is the author of numerous books, including:

  • Witt (1973)
  • Seventh Heaven (1978)
  • Babel (1979)
  • Woolgathering (1992; re-released with new material, 2011)
  • Early Work: 1970-1979 (1995)
  • Patti Smith Complete 1975-2006: Lyrics, Reflections & Notes for the Future (1999)
  • Auguries of Innocence: Poems (2008)
  • Land 250 (2008)
  • Trois (2008)
  • Just Kids (2010)
  • The Coral Sea (2012)
She is the subject of numerous books, including:

  • Patti Smith: Rock & Roll Madonna by Dusty Roach (1979)
  • Patti Smith: High on Rebellion by A.J. Muir (1980)
  • Patti Smith: A Biography by Nick Johnstone (1997)
  • Patti Smith by Paolo Vites (2003)
  • Strange Messenger: The Work of Patti Smith by David Greenberg, John Smith, and Pati Smith (2003)
  • Patti Smith: American Artist by Frank Stefanko, Chris Murray, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye (2006)
  • Patti Smith's Horses by Philip Shaw (2008)
  • The Words and Music of Patti Smith by Joe Tarr (2008)
  • Patti Smith: Dream of Life by Steven Sebring (2008)
  • Patti Smith: Simply a Concert by Claudio Marra, John Rockwell and Fernando Pivano (2009)
  • Patti Smith by Jennifer Lesieur (2009)
  • Patti Smith's Horses and the Remaking of Rock 'n' Roll by Mark Paytress (2011)
  • Patti Smith: Camera Solo by Susan Talbott (2011)
  • Patti Smith 1969-1976 by Judy Linn (photographs, 2011)
  • Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story by Dave Thompson (2011)
  • Two Times Intro: On the Road With Patti Smith by Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) (2011)
COMPILATIONS

  • Patti Smith's songs appear on many compilations. Tracks only available on compilations include:

  • "Don't Smoke in Bed" on Ain't Nuthin' But a She Thing (1995)
  • "We Three Kings" on A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997)
  • "Wicked Messenger" on May Your Song Always Be Sung: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Vol. 2 (2001)
  • live versions of "People Have the Power" on The Bridge School Concerts, Volume One (2005) and Occupy This Album (2012)
  • "Until the End of the World" on (Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered (2011)
  • "Oh Yoko" with Tony Shanahan on The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute—Live From the Beacon Theatre NYC (2011)
  • "Words of Love" on Rave On Buddy Holly (2011)
  • "Drifter's Escape" on Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan—Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International (2012)
  • "I, as a Person" on Per Gaber ...Io ci sono - 2003-2013 (2012)
  • a live version of "Wing" on West of Memphis: Voices for Justice (2013)
COVERS OF HER WORK

Patti Smith's songs have been covered by many artists. The album Barefoot: A Tribute to Patti Smith was released in 1997.


Thanks to Jens P. Tagore Brage and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2013-05-05 21:58:33.
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