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I was looking forward to this set of cover songs just to see what was going on in Patti's mind. Her appreciation of rock music, heroes, and history is comprehensive. With Lenny Kaye at her side, a musical encyclopedia, it proves to be quite a collection.
Most of the criticism seems to center around the fact that she doesn't take the bait and tear the songs apart to reinvent them. While that critique is correct, in my opinion, it misses the point. There is a warmth, almost a reverence, to the collection of songs. There is true affection, and a personal connection, to each of these songs that makes Twelve unique in her canon. Never has Patti & Company sounded so relaxed, confident, and warm. There is none of her trademark urgency or stridence.
Instead, her voice shows a new maturity. When did Patti learn to sing? She practically croons Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Personally, I never much cared for the song, but find myself hitting replay for her version. Soul Kitchen has the same relaxed vibe - somehow it's much, much sexier with her singing the song than Jim Morrison's version. I also like the garbage truck story in the booklet about how it came to be included.Read more ›
If you love the sound of her voice, it is impossible to find the album entirely without merit, and on the plus side there are laid-back, rocky versions of the Doors' "Soul Kitchen" and the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider".
But does the world need to hear her take on Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"?
The interpretations make Smith's distinctive delivery sound like a parody of itself. Because her essence is missing, the album feels like a waste of her considerable talent.
Patti Smith doing old chestnuts from Tears For Fears and Paul Simon holds out no promise of magic.
However, there are joyful surprises here.
"Gimme Shelter is definitive Stones, "White Rabbit" the essence of psychedelia, and "Pastime Paradise" gorgeous beyond words.
With the help of that wonderful voice, still maturing, and a set of imaginative arrangements, Smith has reinvented all three and given us versions good enough to set beside the originals.
Best of all is a banjo and fiddle-driven romp through "Smells Like Teen Spirit" which reveals the splendour of that song in a different light. Seizing the moment, the rock poetess adds some sizzling words that Kurt Cobain would have been proud to call his own.
In keeping with her defiantly androgynous image, Smith covers songs exclusively written by male songwriters (with the lone exception of Grace Slick's "White Rabbit"), never failing to put her own signature stamp on each. She is not the conventional singer, having gained acclaim for a performance style that lies somewhere in-between singing and shouting, but the selections she has chosen lend themselves to it extremely well.
For instance, she injects a welcome shot of momentum into the Rolling Stones' spirited "Gimme Shelter," while accenting Neil Young's "Helpless" with beauty, grace and intensity. She event tips her hat to Bob Dylan in covering his underrated "Changing of the Guards," a single from his 1978 LP "Street Legal" that failed to make the Billboard charts. Her spirited, toned down delivery invokes a whole new level of appreciation of Dylan's words while also showcasing her astute empathy of them - this is not just any old cover.
The most surprising aspect of "Twelve," though, is Smith's more contemporary choices. Her flavorful reading of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," which hit #1 on the pop charts for Tears For Fears back in 1985, trades in the pathos of the original for a more factual delivery in which the meaning of the lyrics emerges more clearly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great cover interpretations of songs everyone knows and loves by a certified lyrical and performance genius. I really like this CD.Published 9 days ago by Eddie Vortex
Uneven but great music from one of my favorites female artists.Published 9 months ago by Francisco Albarran
HER RENDITION OF THE STONES....".GIMME SHELTER", ROCKS TO THE CORE OF GRAY MATTERS REALM..........Published 15 months ago by Dave Holmsten
I was surprised to find that Patti Smith, an alternative artist if ever there was one, would do something as conventional as release an album of covers. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Steven Haarala
I really enjoyed this album of covers by the Godmother of Punk, who rarely sounds punk on this album but gives an appealing and creative sensitivity to popular songs from a wide... Read morePublished 16 months ago by T. Obermiller
I enjoy all Patti Smith. This is fun because she covering the music that inspired her. I find it to be a very fun album.Published 17 months ago by Maura Davidson
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|washed up geriatric scag||
I guess ol' T.G. didn't see Patti Smith's performance when she was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame recently. "Cut it"?! She f*ckin' SCULPTED it! But T.G.'s clearly not a fan and never was, not having paid attention to her art or life. She was never "drug-addled,"... Read More
Apr 11, 2007 by The Boot Knife of Reasoned Discussion | See all 22 posts
|It's a little like talking about great athletes.||
I share your feelings about Patti. I, too, was fortunate enough to see her twice in concert, though I never met her "in person" as you did.
I did meet one of her old band members, a guy named Ivan Kral, who opened a video shop in New Brunswick NJ years back and we discussed the... Read More
Apr 26, 2007 by E. Casagrande | See all 3 posts
|Pissing In The River With White Rabbitt and Patti Smith||
You found HORSES in 1970?
Wow...a full FIVE YEARS (stuck on my eyes) before the rest of us.
Can anybody join this club?
Apr 10, 2007 by S. Kurtz | See all 3 posts