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Performer: Patti Smith
Artist: Tom Verlaine; John Cale; Lenny Kaye
Distributor: Sony BMG
Notes: Personnel: Patti Smith (vocals); Ivan Kral (vocals, guitar, bass); Lenny Kaye, Allen Lanier, Tom Verlaine (guitar); Richard Sohl (piano); John Cale (bass); Jay Dee Daugherty (drums). Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York, New York. Originally released on Arista (8362). Includes liner notes by Patti Smith. With the exception of Bob Dylan, few rock n' rollers explored poetry within the rock format as thoroughly as Patti Smith. By the mid-70's, Smith had been a regular poetry-reader in New York City clubs for years, and with a deep admiration for The Rolling Stones, it was only natural to set these poems to music. With an exciting rock band to back her up (including renowned music critic Lenny Kaye on guitar), Smith built up a following on the strength of the band's trance-inducing live shows and her thrillingly liberated vocal style, which built on Dylan's mid '60s expressiveness with ecstatic, octave-jumping yelps. Produced by ex-Velvet Underground bassist John Cale, HORSES was considered 'punk rock' when it was first released, but there was much more to it. Smith had a gift for being able to paint vivid pictures with her prose, as evidenced by a pair of 10-minute long epics, "Birdland" and "Land" (which consisted of 3 sections--"Horses," "Land of A Thousand Dances," and "La Mer"). Other tracks are more conventional, yet just as gripping--a cover of "Gloria," "Free Money," and "Kimberly," plus a ragged live cover of The Who's "My Generation" (included on the '96 remastered CD edition as a bonus track). HORSES is a classic.
Rolling Stone (10/31/02, p.135) - Ranked #5 in Rolling Stone's "Women In Rock: The 50 Essential Albums" - "...Rock & roll poetry was a bore until this Jersey girl showed up..." Rolling Stone (12/11/03, p.110) - Ranked #44 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time" - "...A statement of faith in the transfigurative powers of rock & roll..." Q (5/02 SE, p.141) - Included in Q's "100 Best Punk Albums". Q (11/96, p.154) - 5 Stars (out of 5) - "...the brittle rock and wide-eyed transcendental journeying of 1975's accepted classic HORSES has lost none of its thrill..." Vibe (12/99, p.158) - Included in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century Melody Maker (7/13/96, p.50) - Bloody Essential Mojo (Publisher) (p.124) - 5 stars out of 5 - "[W]hat still stuns is Smith's reverie-like, stream-of-consciousness delivery." NME (Magazine) (10/2/93, p.29) - Ranked #31 in NME's list of The Greatest Albums Of All Time. NME (Magazine) (9/18/93, p.19) - Ranked #8 among The Greatest Albums Of The '70s - "...the words were monumental--an exceptional tribute to creativity unhinged..." NME (Magazine) (7/20/96, p.45) - 9 (out of 10) - "...Here is rock from the point of view of a gifted writer who has reinvented herself as an alien creature, reared on Jean Genet and Rimbaud..."
One of the earliest and most important influences on punk rock (not to mention on post-punk songwriters like PJ Harvey), Patti Smith mated French Symbolist poetry with rock & roll, creating a musical style to match. In the process, she further shattered rock's gender barrier. Her 1975 album, HORSES, is one of the most seminal, acclaimed rock records of all time. Ironically, her biggest hit came with a 1978 version of Bruce Springsteen's "Because the Night." Smith spent much of the '80s and '90s away from the music business, but re-entered the fray in earnest starting with 1996's lauded GONE AGAIN.
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