Monday, September 6, 2010

Review #151: Patti Smith - Horses (1975)


Year: 1975
Genre: Rock & Roll, Blues, Punk Rock
Label: Arista Records
Tracks: 8
Length: 43 Minutes
Style: Emotional
My Rating: 7/8

Whew, I shoure have been a lot busier, lately... from a part-time volunteer job to going to bed early to art classes to homework, there's been less time for me to write reviews, unfortunately. One day after work I did get to read a couple chapters of "Just Kids" by Patti Smith. I really liked that book. I couldn't locate it after the second time I wanted to read it, though. Maybe this next week I'll find it again so I can continue where I left off. I've also bought two phonograph records over the past week, which are "Raw Power" by the Stooges and the re-pressing of the "Hunted Down" single by SoundGarden. Both are pretty damn awesome. Now I have just quarters left! I also saw a copy of "Uncle Scam" by the Defendants (a local hardcore band) at the same record store I bought the SoundGarden 7" at for only $5, so that was a neat surprise as well. By the way, the name of the store is "Toxic Beauty Records", and it's in Yellow Springs, so if you're from the area and have never been there, you should check it out. And yeah, I had to say that. It's part of my deal for buying a $10 single for only $7. Shh!

But yeah, you might have read by review of Patti Smith's debut record that I wrote in April, and I really liked the songs on it. So, now I'm going to review her first full album. It steps more towards some early punk rock, whereas the first 7" was piano-dominated blues-y stuff. Yep, Patti was one of the first punks in the first punk scene in New York City! Actually, she was more of a beatnik. What the hell, she's just Patti Smith. Hah. Ha. H. Is for Horses. That is THIS ALBUM, boyz n' girlz. TIME TO REVIEW THE SONGS NAUOW, GAHAHEHEHEHEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1. Gloria
A much-improved cover of the song by the 1960s band "Them". The song is made up of two "halves". The first part is called "In Excelis Deo". The second part is just called "Gloria". The first half of the song is piano-driven and slow, and Patti opens the song with the line, "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine", referring to her decision during high school to leave her Catholic past behind. The guitar has a sort of countryish twang, and Patti's voice has an earthy sound and sort of a snarl to it as well. By one minute into the song, a percussion section becomes audible, and the song slowly becomes more upbeat and speeds up a little until we're in the second part of the song, which is an ultra-catchy punk version of the repeated melody, and a fucking awesome chorus section with a group-sung "GLORIA", to which Patti responds, "G-L-O-R-I-A!". There's a messy, slow bluesy mid-section as well which adds a little breather space to the song before revving up for a final chorus.

2. Redondo Beach
This song uses a synth keyboard and some other neat instruments. Cool beat as well. Very cool and easy-going riff, but the song is about a girl who commits suicide to the shock of the rest of her community. There seems to be a bit of a reggae influence to this song.

3. Birdland
Just a piano and Patti's voice. The song starts with spoken lyrics, which Patti sort of begins to sing in the third line. The song conveys a long poetic story of a boy feeling alienated from the rest of society, wishing to become more like the birds who he feels more at peace with. At one point in the song, Patti's speaking becomes more and more intense until finally collapsing into more singing. Almost 10 minutes long!

4. Free Money
This one's got a little more guitar in it. It gets progressively faster as it goes on. The song's a love song about using the power of dreaming to do the things and go on the adventures you can't afford to do with money. End of Side 1.

5. Kimberly
I love the way the drums sound on this one. The verse melody is great. Richard Sohl plays the synth-organ. This song might be about the baby that Patti had when she was 18 that she put up for adoption not long after and her short experience as a mother. Sometimes she sort of speeds up and goes off on these beatnik-esque rants. I think that's really cool, it adds an intensity to the music.

6. Break It Up
A slow blues-rock song about a breakup with a boy that Patti loved. Either that or someone dying. I'm not completely sure, but it sounds like something that must've hit her pretty hard, judging by the pure emotion behind this one. In one part it sounds like she's thumping on her chest to add an extra vibration to her voice. In the end of the song, Patti just begins screaming "BREAK IT UP", as it all fades out.

7. Land
A three-part song. Part I is called "Horses", Part II is called "Land of a Thousand Dances", and Part III is called "La Mer (De)". The song starts off with Patti speaking, until the background music fades in, as we can hear a parallel recording of Patti speaking in the background. The guitar has an awesome zingy sort of sound to it, and the protagonist in the song is "surrounded by horses", as the beat becomes faster, just like the running of a group of horses. Then the second part of the song after two minutes is a cover of "Land of a Thousand Dances" by Chris Denner, with a punky feeling and some wild piano chords as well. And of course, a plethora of new improvised lyrics by Ms. Smith herself. The third part of the song is more about the percussion and bass, keeping the same beat as the middle part of the tune, but calmer and more silent, with Patti continuing her vocal part. And then the song ends.

8. Elegie
The shortest and final song on the album. Patti sings real strongly here, and the song has a calm piano melody, with some bass guitar and even a little lead, and in one part, Patti's voice soars into a soprano. The lead guitar in the background in the end sort of flail about like dying monsters.

Very good album. The emotion here is very strong, but Patti doesn't really sound that angry, there's a general optimistic feel here, like in "Birdland", and a lot of music I listen to his pretty angry. There's also a great piano presence here, and you'll feel just as much blues here as early punk rock. One of the first albums of the New York scene ever, I'm pretty sure. Yeah, it doesn't sound exactly like everything else I listen to, but for that it does stand out as something different, and I'm sure Patti has been a very large influence on many of the more recent artists I enjoy... and hey, Patti's still going! I'm not extremely familiar with all of her material, just this album and the "Hey Joe" single, but so far I like what I hear... so yes, this iz a great album and I liked it and you probably will too. Bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Gloria
2. Kimberly
3. Redondo Beach

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