on March 29, 2002
...piano drowns in it's own reverb, the music dark like a high mass, aural incense lay heavy as the speaker cones come to life, the black cat of the old blues parts it's teeth and moans...
"...jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine..."
the group joins the catfight, slowly at first, then the wheels roll harder, the wagon rocks, and the rickety creature of strats and drums and thunderbird bass props up and propels the cracked mirror snarls and sweetnothings the singer sings, taking the ancient chant of the sanctified garage, "Gloria", into history.
With "Horses", the Patti Smith Group created a moment in time and sound that we should all strive toward, the purity of both their art and their rock and roll, and the balance struck between the two is a rarity in pop music. The music on "Horses" drives and swoops and undulates and screams and comforts and terrorizes and informs and confuses, it blesses the intellect, the broken or soaring heart, the sacred and the depraved spirit, the hungering body and the bootyshake gland.
Fronted by a black leather scarecrow/mary magdalenic genius, alternately weeping and crowing her words of spite, faith, pride, regret and redemption looking for all the world like Keith Richards' fictional little sister, the Patti Smith Group (Lenny Kaye, Ivan Kral, Jay Dee Daugherty and Richard Sohl)created an album of timeless grace and savage beauty. Like John Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band" before it, "Horses" is a record that can hold you in it's arms and let you know that, for all your dark failings and in spite of all the secrets that make it hard to sleep sometimes, it's alright...you're alright.
on June 3, 2004
I had never heard of Patti Smith last March when a friend of my parent's gave me the "Horses" LP 33" vinyl as a birthday gift. I put it on and gave it a shot... The results were phenomenal. Aside from Christina Aguilera's "Stripped", (YES! Christina Aguilera, be quiet! lol), and everything of Moloko's, Patti Smith's "Horses" is the best album ever to have graced my ears.
1) Gloria - A rockin' cover of Van Morrison's classic. 10/10
2) Redondo Beach - A light reggae tune. 9/10
3) Birdland - My favorite on the album, this is Patti at her finest. Stream of Poetry that has beautiful results. 10/10
4) Free Money - A haunting punk rocker. 10/10
5) Kimberly - A lighter, more bouncy song with heartfelt lyrics. 9.5/10
6) Break It Up - A strange vandetta of true Patti vocals and true Patti lyrics. 9/10
7) Land - Awesome. A montage of three great songs. Similar to 'Gloria'. 10/10
8) Elegie - A haunting ballad. 9/10
(Since recieving the original LP record, I have recently purchased the CD for when I'm on the go, so I recieved the bonus track 'My Generation' on the CD.)
9) My Generation - A somewhat messy, but good nonetheless B-Side which you can listen to while head-banging. 9.5/10
**I will most definetely be buying more of Patti's items in the futture. I highly recommend 'Horses' as a classic.**
on April 25, 2003
Patti Smith first release is a triumph for woman in music. It is angry, sad, beautiful and poetic. Patti voice isn't beautiful nor is it supposed to be. It is angry and sometimes annoying. She sometimes screams and doesn't hold back some of her anger and lets it all out. The compositions are amazing. The first song Gloria is amazing track, partly covered originally by Van Morrison and she sure does a justice to that song. Other notable tracks such as the 9 minute long Birdland, The uplifting redondo beach, the haunting Free Money, the fun yet provocative Kimberly among others. Her band are amazing performers and they now what to do. The producer John Cale doesn't go extreme with production but does not make a soddy effort.
Horses is often reffered as a punk album. I Can not put it into one genre. It is a bit of new wave, punk, rock but overall a fantastic album that doesn't need a time to be categorized but to be respected and loved by those who experience it and really like it. A Classic debut album by an amazing artist. 5 stars.
on January 28, 2002
Patti Smith's "Horses" starts out with some soft, mournful piano chords, courtesy of Richard Sohl. We then hear a most extraordinary, New York sounding voice, which declares "Jesus died for somebody's sins/but not mine!" And from this moment on, the listener is brought into a kind of wild, subterranean world, a world of poetry and mythos, a world, which is an extension of the very soul of the greatest poet to ever become a rock star. As the opening song, "Gloria" continues, picking up speed via Lenny Kay's crunching guitar riffs and Jay Dee Daugherty's steady drumming, poetry merges with mid-60s garage punk, and a whole new world of possibility opens up. This is followed by the gentle, reggae derived "Redondo Beach," which, it turns out, is one of Patti's great vocal moments; there is a rhythm to her voice which serves this, and other songs, very well, as here, she sings a sad tale which contrasts with the upbeat sound of the song. "Birdland," one of the lengthier songs here, returns to the mournful sound of the beginnings of "Gloria" and is quite sublime. A few songs later is "Kimberly," Patti's tribute to her sister, with some great lyrics and a nice steady, rocking beat. It's one of my favorite all time Patti Smith songs. The record climaxes with "Land," a song sequence, in which Patti creates a near cinematic narrative, set in a high school filled with misfits. She brilliantly alludes to the popular culture of an earlier era.
So, with this record, which sounded like absolutely nothing else that came out in 1975, Patti Smith begat a revolution. She is a historic link between the Dylan/Morrison/Lennon/Hendrix 60s and the CBGBs/Max's Kansas City punks of a few years later. Its hard to imagine folks like Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, and all of today's female rockers like L7, Sleater-Kinney, and others, even existing, without her getting the ball rolling. While she is still a vibrant artist, this is the place to begin to explore the world of Patti Smith.
on December 25, 2001
Originally better known as a beat-style poet of the New York avant guard, in the 1970s Smith began to offer public readings with music--and quickly developed into an iconoclastic artist of remarkable intensity. HORSES, a collection that slaps the listener from explosive ferocity to lotus-like lyricism and then back again, is her debut album.
This is not your grandmother's rock and roll. Smith opens HORSES with a hard-rocking and revamped version of the old standard "Gloria"--and reinterprets the piece into a determined, deliberate, and defiant bit of blasphemy calculated to snap even a non-believer's head back. The shock of "Gloria" sets the tone for the rest of the album: no boundries tolerated. And Smith and her band actually manage to follow through, with pieces that encompass subjects ranging from dreams of aliens to homosexual rape to suicide. Smith's voice can be quite melodic, but for HORSES she emphasises vocal authority, growling, dragging, and sometimes even throwing away all tonal quality entirely.
HORSES is rather loosely structured, and some of the tracks work better than others--but even by today's standards the album retains its cutting edge. And its an edge Smith knows how to use. The album is an essential, but brace yourself: it is a demanding ride.
on November 23, 2001
Horses is typically labled punk, or at the very least rock. In truth the album is neither; Patti Smith's music is it's own genre, earmarked by poetry, passion, piano, and guitars used to create an entity that stands apart.
As a poet, Smith's writings can be abstract and difficult to connect with, but when formed into song, the spirit and passion behind them is evident enough to make the listener understand what she wants to commuincate, and the vitatility of her message.
Her voice wails and shrieks throughout the record, a soft vibratto making itself known during quieter moments while her primal growl dominates throughout. Her live performances serve as proof that when singing, she really is transported to another place, one the listener can easily get sucked into, be it during the driving chant of "Horses," or "Birdland," which paints an intensely vivid picture through narrative.
If you love Horses, it will be a favorite and respected album in your collection, and how others can brush it aside of find it unlistenable for the very reasons that make it one of rock's greatest accomplishments, will be impossible to understand.
on October 10, 2001
A low hype on the punk rock scene, but a high critical acclaim, of course "Horses" would be one of those inevitable records by most music lovers & explorers. The introductory piano of "Gloria" made me think of the Lilith Fair type of musicianship, Sarah McLachlan-esque, moody, lonely piano scenarios. Then, I heard the country-esque progress of the song, then I got a little turned off & somewhat provoked to stop my CD player. But when she started getting bitchier & bitchier with her unique vocal stylings, & ubiquitous high pitch falsetto on the end of each word she sings, I was very turned on once again. And the poetry-based "Birdland" made me fall in love with "Horses" all of a sudden. What was very impressive of "Horses" would probably be the simplistic musicianship, but the complex results of the songs. Which makes me conclude that she's no ordinary performer who's made her mark, but she's a pioneer, in the heights of the Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, & the New York Dolls. And the poetry within these songs, which are very evident, was somewhat emphasized through her not singing it, but most of the time reciting it. The track "Land" is a masterpiece all to itself. A song that could stand by itself & would still be considered a full-length & undoubtedly one of the best. The song was a very diverse form of art. Predictably the visuals of Patti singing live & enthusiastic, the complex (but really is simple) instrumentation, & the waves of song & poetry coming out of Patti. If you were lost within this song, the words seem to jump out of nowhere & hit you hard, like being in the eye of the storm.
Without the text prior to this, "Horses" could simply be considered as a masterpiece. And Patti Smith; truly the high priestess of punk rock.
on August 30, 2001
This is the best album and I have not the words to describe it accurately to those who have not listened to it. Patti Smith's music is all about language and imagery...she paints some very luminous visual landscapes and does so w/this great arrogant cockiness that is usually only seen in men. She is terrific, hands down, and she strips the music of its usual corporate glossiness--she wears a man's neck tie and no makeup, her voice is front and center, and the music provided by her bandmates is spare and raw w/the emphasis always on Patti's voice. She is the poet as performer, which is basically what all rock musicians are, but she is her own soldier in that battle. This album not only reflects Patti Smith, but it also reflects the era in which it was created--the seventies--black and white, spare and obscure, energetic and direct...and Patti is the shaman on the scratchy TV screen...the shortwave radio...and the platinum spinning disc that was that decade. This is punk rock and Patti Smith is an icon.
on September 28, 2000
I am 43. When I first heard this I was 20. It totally shocked me from the very first notes in a friend's bedroom, stayed with me over the years and is still - remarkably - my favourite album for its force, drive, beautiful melancholy sounds, strange poetry, like a door opening on something I never believed could exist until I heard and saw it, and full of a warm compassion for the listener that is absent on all of Patti's influences. I heard someone said that though she was openly influenced by the Stones, the Velvets and the Doors (and Dylan) she also managed to outdo them all... the album is all but perfect... did they resolve the mains hum buzz all through the original vinyl disc? And 'My Generation' (by coincidence my favourite single, from The Who) is scrappy but OK, but why oh why is 'Piss Factory' - one of her best songs from this era - not included? That's the only slight minus in this lovely re-issue. If you have never heard Patti Smith, just get this record and enjoy. A pure gift.
on July 28, 2000
Sheer intensity! One may hear hints of her in a few musicians, but there's only one Patty Smith. She set the standard, yet remains an original.
This is a concept CD, but the concept is musical, rather than lyrical. Beginning with the dissonant chords and long tonal lines of "GLORIA," Patty Smith goes on to punk-ture the rock landscape in about 43 minutes of tone poetry, screaming vocals and snarling guitar. It's the musical equivalent of "Howl."
A few songs, or fragments of songs, are somewhat melodic and playful, almost teasing. While these are "easier" and sound great, the CD is most notable for its shredding power, and the sound of the most original female voice in rock. Great support on guitar and drums. Intense and poetic, yet somehow unaffected and sincere, she makes the spoken/sung lyric not only compelling, but credible.
In many songs it sounds like the rhythm might slip out from under the vocals and go on in an entirely different direction. There's something going on here! Beautifully recorded and mixed, the voicings are distinct, both melodic and dissonant. Someone may observe these days, "that's been done before." It probably has--by Patty Smith. Highly recommended.