1975 – Arista
Punk/ Rock/ Alternative
Patti Smith’s debut album Horses really was a breakthrough for music in the seventies. It brought rock and roll and poetry together in a sublime anti-establishment unison and was a great step forwards for women in the rock world. It is also one of those albums that regularly makes the lists of best records of all time and has gotten rave reviews from almost every reviewer I have ever read, but like The Queen Is Dead I’m going to unfortunately say that it’s not quite as good as everyone seems to think.
The opening tracks Gloria and Redondo Beach are wonderful in their almost crazed vocal delivery and rolling blues-rock backing. Redondo Beach is even one of those reggae tracks performed by non-reggae bands which I seem to love so much. But the third track Bridland, while beautiful, goes on for about five or six minutes too long without any real musical change up and, in all honesty, Patti comes across as thinking that her poetry is better written than it actually is. Now, don’t get me wrong; I think that Birdland is a very good song, and I occasionally find myself getting lost in its warped world, but I just as often find myself getting a little bored and waiting for it all to end.
Free Money does pick up a bit from the free verse rambling of its predecessor, but once again it’s really not all that ear catching. It is very, very good, but I just don’t seem to be able to connect with it like I feel that I should. Kimberly, on the other hand, has a lot more to latch on to and I really felt like this track, with its slowly building pathos, worked well. It’s catchy, well written, and well performed and it just works so well in its placement on the record (beginning of side two).
The trilogy of Land suffers slightly from the same problems of Birdland in that it goes on for quite a while too long and it had a tendency to ramble on get caught in repetition. However, the music on this track is at least much more interesting than Birdland and the listener can get caught up the madness. But, then we return to the slow melancholy heard on Birdland with the final track Elegie, which is thankfully much shorter than its counterpart. Once again I have to say that Patti Smith seems to think herself a better poet than she actually is.
In summation I would say that Horses is a great album. It is full of wonderful tracks and has only a couple of tracks which have some minor issues, but I also have to say that it is not really a masterpiece. It is a great first step for a band that went on to be incredible, but I really can’t put it up there with all the other five star records I have reviewed. It just doesn’t quite reach those heights.
I would definitely recommend getting yourself a copy and giving it a good thorough listen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if after hearing all the hype you were just that little bit disappointed.
If you get the CD version of Horses there is a bonus track (a cover of The Who’s My Generation) which is really just excellent. I would heartily recommend giving this blasting punk racket a listen.
Here is one of my personal favourite tracks from Patti Smith’s 1975 album ‘Horses’
- Dave’s Gig Reviews: Patti Smith – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (gigs.dave.org.uk)
- “Gloria” (songgenius.wordpress.com)
- Patti Smith – Horses (1975 Album) (queenbeetch.com)