Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A blade of grass through the vortex of sound (Patti Smith) #346-349

Patti Smith Group because the night/ GOD SPEED (Arista Records, AR 11688, 1978)

Patti Smith Group Privilege (Set Me Free); Ask The Angels/ 25th Floor; A Poem Babelfield (Arista records 12", POP 1, 1978)

Patti Smith Group Frederick/ Fire Of Unknown Origin (Arista Records, ATA 709, 1979)

Patti Smith People Have The Power/ Wild Leaves (Arista Records, 104889, 1988)

Because The Night (upper or lower case- it matters not) was huge in its day but over familiarity since then (it's turned up on countless compilations)  has led to...well- not contempt - this is Patti bleedin' Smith after all, but a diminishing of power. Though, having said that, the version on her Live at Montreaux DVD from 2005 definitely rocked. Maybe it's context, being surrounded by other Smith songs, that helps. 

Patti is no elitist snob; she is obviously not opposed to having hit records. Frederick and People Have The Power are attempts at writing pop songs and she manages that feat with aplomb. Frederick, in particular is glorious. Todd's pop sheen production is perfect!

Hidden gem: Patti subscribes to the notion that B sides should contain nuggets not included on albums so all of these singles contain interesting material.

The live version of 25th Floor and the poem Babelfield (with its torrent of words and images) are especially extraordinary.

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