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Like BORN TO RUN, DARK SIDE OF THE MOON and BLONDE ON BLONDE, it's no stretch to call this an historic issue for many reasons. The songs are consistently well-crafted. A pity the moguls at Sony failed to include lyrics in the package since the words are so potent and evocative. The opener, JUBILEE, is especially lyrical and showcases a powerful, burnished voice that fits the music like a glove.
Unlike most albums, great thought was given to the sequence of songs -- which range from pensive to explosive. By the time RADIO BAGHDAD bursts through your system, the voice, the music, the production itself, will take your breath away. GANDHI, in particular, will become an underground classic. Indeed, it's been going 'round and 'round in my head since I first heard it.
Technically, it's been years since I heard a band recorded with such nuance. All the pieces are well-defined. The dynamic range of the recording is awesome, and the voice is placed exactly where it should be. Audiophiles will put this CD in their demonstration rack, but so will those who believe rock is a life-force and a potent political art form, too.
Nothing I've heard in the past five years approaches the quality of this release. I'm now a Patti Smith fan at the grand age of 52, and plan to buy a copy of HORSES this weekend. TRAMPIN' reminds us that in the cesspool of the American record industry -- in which 90% of new rock releases are throwaway -- some smart producers (in this case, Patti Smith and her band) may turn your head around.
We're living through a terribly dark time in 2004, and this beautifully crafted album is a burst of light.
Five huge, freakin' stars.
"Trampin'" (11 tracks, 63 min.) is Patti Smith's 9th studio album. But in sound and spirit, it is a sequel to her debut album "Horses" from 1975. Not surprisingly, there are some heavy political undertones to this album. Musically, there are no weak tracks here. The songs can essentially be divided in 2 groups: the "rockers" and the "ballads". Among the former, the monumental "Gandhi" (9+ min.) and "Radio Baghdad" (12+ min.) are standouts. Among the latter, the title track (featuring Patti's daughter on piano), and "Trespasses" are the best. Patti's band, including long time guitaris Lenny Kaye, sound tight throughout.
I cannot emphasize enough how much this album took me by surprise. Patti Smith has been around for a long, long time but clearly she still has some things on her mind, and finds a way to write strong new songs. One negative about the CD is that there is virtually no information about the album in the CD case. I literally had to look hard to even find the song titles (forget about hoping for the lyrics of songs!). That aside, this album is strongly recommended!
Patti Smith excels in so many ways that she is easily taken for granted. Lyrically, this album is poetic, incisive, cutting and spiritual. Allusions are made to Blake, historic Babylon, Buddhist symbols, war imagery and more. She writes lyrics more interesting than than the books of most authors.
One example, on the hypnotic, rocking "Radio Baghdad," she alludes to the current American destruction of the birthplace of civilization, ancient Baghdad and Babylon. "We invented the zero...but we are nothing to you...," referring to American bombs falling on the city.
Vocally, she does it all. From fiercely protective maternal wails to gently soothing reassurance, her voice has grown deeper and more resonant over the years. She now sounds worldly, experienced, knowing and compassionate.
The mood and tempos of the songs vary from stripped down punk rock to gentle ballads, to Marian Anderson's "Trampin." Yet the overall feel is energetic, rocking, kick ass music that makes you think and feel and move all at once.
Few musicians have continued to grow and reflect, and make music so uncompromising and vital. (Johnny Cash and Tom Waits are the only two that come to mind). These stand like islands of passion, integrity and the true spirit of rock and roll, amid the commercial wasteland of prepackaged "product" foisted on us year in and out.
This goes not only for Patti Smith, but the entire band as well. They are one of the most seriously under rated talents in rock.Read more ›
TRAMPIN' is full of treasurers, but it seems to me that the key selection on the release is "Peaceable Kingdom," a delicately smooth song that envokes loss, failure, and separation primarily in order to broach the notion that there is a way to repair what is broken; the difficultly lies in finding out what that way is. It might be through celebration ("Jubilee") or recognition of mortality and personal integrity ("Trespasses"); it might be through transcendent love ("Mother Rose"), intellectuality ("My Blakean Year"), or spiritual insights ("Ghandi.") One thing is for sure: it isn't through more destruction ("Radio Bagdad.")
As always, Smith has the unexpected gift of being able to take a scalding sense of outrage and transform it into art--and to take art and use it like a razor, slashing at human stupidity. At her best, however, she tempers her contempt with mercy, and TRAMPIN' has this in abundance. Every single cut is a wonder, the album works as a whole, and the musicianship is flawless throughout. Strongly recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This isn't one of the best Patti Smith Cd's, It is the best.... It deals with a lot of life's issues and relates in so many ways to things in life and more.. Read morePublished 15 months ago by terry morris
I was hoping ths would be as good as the reviews and it is!!! Great songs sung and expertly played with emotion! Read morePublished 16 months ago by MJH
Once upon a time, my favorite Patti Smith album was Radio Ethiopia. Horses had the classic "Gloria". Read morePublished 18 months ago by walleye
Incredible music. Just as good as it was back then - love Patti Smith.
The seller is equally incredible as I received my order much earlier than anticipated. Thank you!
She is a treasure of our generation. She is a true artist, not just a poet, or a rock star, or author, she is a true intellectual. Read morePublished on April 3, 2013 by Mark Robinson
This album is not Easter or Horses or even Radio Ethiopia but it is damn good. Not as good as the 70's output but good nonetheless. Read morePublished on January 26, 2013 by james gray
This is an incredible album. There isn't a bad track on it, really. I just got BANGA the other day and it's another winner. Read morePublished on January 23, 2013 by Jimmy DeLoche