I am not a Patti Smith fan and only listened to HORSES once or twice in my twenties. After reading MOJO's review of TRAMPIN', I gave the album a shot, but wasn't prepared for such a powerful, eloquent performance.
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.