9 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Horses, Patti Smith’s 1975 debut album, received mass adulation for the inventive use of her poetry and her band’s keen ear that cocked towards rock history with a knowing assurance. Radio Ethiopia, the 1976 follow-up, was in many ways even more challenging. The title track was a ten-minute poetry and guitar jam that took the roots of beatnik rage and fused them with an atonality that would become New York’s “No Wave” scene. Elsewhere, Smith and band delivered straight up rock numbers, “Ask the Angels” and “Pumping (My Heart),” exquisite balladry (“Pissing in a River”), and her spunky and creepy experimental dub-influenced rock (“Ain’t It Strange,” “Poppies’). Producer Jack Douglas did what he could to moderate between the band’s scrappy punk roots and their desire for a tighter, focused, and aggressive sound. However, while Smith’s group could be modified to fit the occasion, there was no reigning in Smith herself, who used her limited vocal range to great effect, evincing sass and character as she circled her notes.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Horses, Patti Smith’s 1975 debut album, received mass adulation for the inventive use of her poetry and her band’s keen ear that cocked towards rock history with a knowing assurance. Radio Ethiopia, the 1976 follow-up, was in many ways even more challenging. The title track was a ten-minute poetry and guitar jam that took the roots of beatnik rage and fused them with an atonality that would become New York’s “No Wave” scene. Elsewhere, Smith and band delivered straight up rock numbers, “Ask the Angels” and “Pumping (My Heart),” exquisite balladry (“Pissing in a River”), and her spunky and creepy experimental dub-influenced rock (“Ain’t It Strange,” “Poppies’). Producer Jack Douglas did what he could to moderate between the band’s scrappy punk roots and their desire for a tighter, focused, and aggressive sound. However, while Smith’s group could be modified to fit the occasion, there was no reigning in Smith herself, who used her limited vocal range to great effect, evincing sass and character as she circled her notes.

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