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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on April 29, 2004
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.
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on July 10, 2004
Listening to Trampin' I can't help but think how little Patti Smith has changed- in the good ways. Her voice sounds the same as it did when I was first introduced to her on Horses [now of course she has her daughter accompanying her on piano]. What she is now is more political I think then ever before. Her lyrics are as intelligent as ever and her anger on songs such as Radio Baghdad drive her on.
One note about the song Radio Baghdad. Someone posted that it was treason. I was called up for the Iraq War and was in Bagdad and Iraq for most of last year- I don't brand her a traitor or treasonous. I also find it a very powerful song and can't believe it hasn't found a bigger audience.
If you like Patti Smith you'll like Trampin'. If you've never heard her, be prepared for some of the most intelligent and deeply felt music made in quite a while.
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on June 15, 2004
I listen to a lot of music, music of all kinds, but this is something special. This disc has guts and beauty, politics and spirituality, kick-ass, punk-edged rock and roll, vast and ambitious historical meditations and drama, straight-out essence of gospel, and an overall lyricism that is just stunning. Its essential hopefulness shatters the gloom of this American year, and opens a way forward. The first track, Jubilee ("Jubilee, Oh my land...Be a jubilee"), makes an anthem of this Biblical, Hebrew word, and you know immediately that you are in for something big, something prophetic, something almost inhumanly (but very humanly) hopeful. This is visionary stuff. If you are like me, you will be stunned by the truthfulness of "Radio Baghdad," and nearly moved to tears of joy and hope when "Trampin" follows and closes the album. And you will probably play "In My Blakean Year" more times than you can remember playing any other recent song. No music has been able to reach the sorrow and rage I have felt at the facts that Americans were torturing prisoners in Iraq and that the deliberate erosion of human rights and the justifications of torture came from the highest levels of our government. Until Patti Smith's TRAMPIN'. It has converted that sorrow and rage into hopeful determination. It has shaken me out of the gloom and reminded me that a hopeful vision of a better way is the best antidote to what looks like the triumph of evil. The last words of the last track sum it up: "I'm tryin' to make heaven my home." But the anger and the sweetness and the sorrow and the hope and the irrepressible determination of this music have to be heard to be understood. This music is convincing. Sorry to gush, but sometimes you just have to say how it hits you.
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on May 27, 2004
Patti Smith pulls it off!! Surely right up there with 'Easter' and 'Horses', this is a great album. Gandhi and Radio Baghdad are Patti at her best, with the band playing like there's no tomorrow. Lenny Kaye is in fine form, but the whole band is very solid, and to top it all off, Patti really has something to say, truly written in the style of an accomplished poet. And, suprisingly, the years have been kind to her voice. While sounding beautiful on songs like 'Mother Rose', she still has 'the growl', which is in full force more than once on this album. After repeated listenings, it just keeps getting better, and I liked Trampin' the first time I heard it.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the liner notes are almost non existant, however it is mentioned that 'Trampin' and 'Gandhi' were recorded live in the studio. Most bands would need massive overdubs to get the sound of 'Gandhi'. Quite a testament to the band, considering Patti and the band produced the album as well. Why in the world Columbia chose not to print the lyrics is beyond me, however they are available at, and well worth reading.
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on May 14, 2004
PATTI SMITH has never jeapordized her artistic integrety by following or 'giving in' to whatever current musical trends may be happening in whatever decade she finds herself recording her supreme and genuinely unique style of Rock And Roll, which keeps her standing tall, shoulder to shoulder, neck to neck to high profile and acclaimed rock'n writin' interpreters such as Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Pete Townshend, and the late Curt Cobain, yet, too often she blows them all away with her compellingly dark compositions interpreted best only by her own stylistic vocal interpretations. She remains the quintessential female rock poet, three decades on! No other female singer-songwriter has ever dared to talk & walk the walk of the holy and unholy ground PATTI SMITH has found herself TRAMPIN' upon, and much less have they had the balls to convey their message upon humanity as only Patti has valiantly done! She triumphs beyond expectations even in her most subtle and sensitive works. "TRAMPIN'" addresses the current worldwide human condition in its pre-WWIII state with a sweeping sense of lyrical and melodic creativity that chills and haunts the listener down to the bone. Amazingly, PATTI SMITH's "TRAMPIN'" easily becomes her most radio friendly project ever, from start to finish, in her 30 year recording career.
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on May 6, 2004
Patti Smith, Poet Laureate of Punk , is back with a great album. I think her best album. Well, at least since Dream of Life-which I wore out back then.
The album starts out with a jubilant celebration of a patented Patti Smith and band rocker called "Jubilee" and then never lets up. The grooves and guitar work early in the album deliciously remind me of a bit slower-paced Jim Carroll Band with its raggedy, sparse, hard-driving punk guitar and downright nihilistic drumwork.(Jim Carroll and Patti are brother and sister, aren't they? And PJ Harvey is their offspring? I guess that's all rumor...)
On this album I don't think Patti has ever written with such introspection and melody. Take the song "Trespasses." This gospel-tinged gorgeously written tune could easily be sung by the thousands of fluff-chick country diva's out there, but Patti and band make it sound like the first song Loretta Lynn might sing after she'd been shackled in the basement of CBGB's for twenty years. Same goes for the title song, "Trampin'." It borrows heavily from the...for to carry me ho-ome....gospel song, but Patti makes it all her own.
Usually when lesser artists reach with such pretentious titles like "My Blakean Year"- you expect a half-baked allusion or two, but when Patti does it you don't even question it, you just bow down, listen, and appreciate.
And who else today is writing about Gandi? How out of fashion is that, America.
Which gets to the12-minute epic, "Radio Baghdad." Now I've had as much problem as anyone with artists reciting poetry through some half-baked musical lilt on their albums, it's sort of like a music/poetry bait and switch, it seems, as music is about rhythm, and sudden jolts into spoken word are usually intrusive. Especially after the first listen. But Patti Smith has got it right on "Radio Baghdad." Her spoken word leads into a massive wave of hard-driving guitars and crescendo musically as well as lyrically throughout this incredible diatribe of Iraq and America's devastation there (Its goose bump time when Patti starts yelling "Shock and Awe!") It is one of her finest moments and it would be great to see her perform it.
Trampin' is a reason to believe in poetry and music.
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on April 28, 2004
There was a time when rock had an edge, a political one. When being a poet meant being able to rhyme other words then duck or itch. When poets stood ,jaws clenched againt what they saw as wrong. Patti smith is the last of such giants.Trampin' is her vehicle, and it is outstanding. Jubilee sets the stage for what is to come{I think Jubilee was the working title for this album for awhile]Its imagery is an attempt tohelppeople remember who they were on september 10th,2001. the entire album seems to be a cry against the general tone of the country since that day.Gandhi and radio Baghdad could have come straight off Horses or radio ethiopia,for that matter.My Blakean year, which she must have been writing her entire adult life, is a wonderful summation of her art and vision:"In my Blakean year
I was so disposed
Toward a mission yet unclear
Advancing pole by pole
Fortune breathed into my ear
Mouthed a simple ode
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road
In my Blakean year
Such a woeful schism
The pain of our existence
Was not as I envisioned
Boots that trudged from track to track
Worn down to the sole
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road
Boots that tread from track to track
Worn down to the sole
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road
In my Blakean year
Temptation but a hiss
Just a shallow spear
Robed in cowardice
Brace yourself for bitter flack
For a life sublime
A labyrinth of riches
Never shall unwind
The threads that bind the pilgrim's sack
Are stitched into the Blakean back
So throw off your stupid cloak
Embrace all that you fear
For joy will conquer all despair
In my Blakean year"...
The album final track, the spiritual Trampin' Patti smith is accompanied only by her daughter on piano,leaves one feeling upbeat,hopeful,prayerful,as any good spiritual should and does. Patti smith is "An american artist"... in her own words, as archetypal as Whitman or Pollock or Coltrane.This recording, then, may well be her masterpiece. A++++++++
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on April 27, 2004
It all comes down to this: it's positively great to hear from Patti Smith again and she is definitely on fire throughout this disc. If you're a fan, you'll love it, if you are new to her, all her strengths are on display. By sheer accident of the time of their emergence, Smith is often mentioned in a similar breaths with Springsteen. Pity, as she's got a lot more to say with a great deal more conviction than the lovesick car mechanic from the Jersey shore.
But while we are on analogies, there is that undeniable chemistry that Smith has with her band that is as on the money as Springsteen with E Street, Young with Crazy Horse, Hound Dog Taylor and the Housebreakers: rarely would you consider them the best at their craft, but jeez o man the sparks fly. A bit of editing would have helped both "Gandhi" and "Radio Baghdad", but she has quite a point to make with both songs, and whether you ascribe to her values are not, she delivers them with such a commitment and intelligence that they deserve consideration. I'd have like to hear her include her take on the Declaration of Independence from her recent show in Philly. It was a show stopping political screed that burned with a firem and roused the choir to its feet in an otherwise pious Quaker schooled crowd. Smith grabs you by the short hairs and you gotta sit up and listen. Anyway, the Cd as delivered here is magnificent. "My Blakean Year" stands as one of her best compositions. "Cartwheels", "Peaceable Kingdom" and "Trampin" you'll return to often. Let's hope that not so much time goes by to her next effort, and perhaps she'll tour some more as well. She is what the times need.
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on April 29, 2004
I'll never forget listening to Horses for the first. Now comes Trampin' and I'm having chills run up my spine. This selection of songs radiate with brilliance. Pulling from all different types of music and all different types of faith they swirl into a converging spiral leaving the mind buzzing with a new found energy to conquer the oppression of evil. This thematic piece surpasses Pink Floyd's The Wall or The Who's Tommy because instead of fiction it's fact. Like Woodward and Bernstein Patti has unearthed the evil of this world and like Martin Luther King she's ready to lead us into the free world. This album is not for the light hearted. It is as deep as the ocean with an abundant supply of hidden treasures waiting to be unearthed. It's hard to separate the songs for they all flow into each other like the patches in a quilt. Just remember to have an open mind and think about it. Bless you Patti Smith you've come into the light.
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on July 8, 2004
Another excellent outing from Patti Smith. Once again enigmatic, beautiful lyrics, and some great riffs from Lenny Kaye. Though "Radio Bahgdad" is passionate it is specious and historically naive. Okay Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization; so anything that happens there now is sacred? Yes the ancient folk of that land contrbuted a vast amount to our present culture, but what's Patti's point? The lightbulb was invented in the US but I don't recall her writing a lament when the World Trade center was knocked down. Break open a history book before you start trying to portray Bahgdad as the center of peace too Patti. Blood has flown freely from that land long before American troops arrived. And BTW- in that part of the world you would have been stoned long ago for blaspemy. Something to maybe mention to balance out your one-sided glorifications. But hey the album rocks.
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