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Rock - Released December 13, 1975 | Arista - Legacy

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Rock - Released January 1, 1980 | Arista - Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
It isn't hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on her debut album, which anticipated the new wave by a year or so: the simple, crudely played rock & roll, featuring Lenny Kaye's rudimentary guitar work, the anarchic spirit of Smith's vocals, and the emotional and imaginative nature of her lyrics -- all prefigure the coming movement as it evolved on both sides of the Atlantic. Smith is a rock critic's dream, a poet as steeped in '60s garage rock as she is in French Symbolism; "Land" carries on from the Doors' "The End," marking her as a successor to Jim Morrison, while the borrowed choruses of "Gloria" and "Land of a Thousand Dances" are more in tune with the era of sampling than they were in the '70s. Producer John Cale respected Smith's primitivism in a way that later producers did not, and the loose, improvisatory song structures worked with her free verse to create something like a new spoken word/musical art form: Horses was a hybrid, the sound of a post-Beat poet, as she put it, "dancing around to the simple rock & roll song." © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 17, 2007 | Columbia - Legacy

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According to her brief liner notes, Patti Smith indulged the idea of a covers album, considering songs as far back as 1978 on the back pages of Jean Genet's Thief's Journal when she was still assembling her groundbreaking early catalog; it's evident she feels that covers have been part and parcel of her recording experience from the outset. Her debut, Horses, has her own apocalyptic version of Van Morrison's "Gloria" as well as a healthy portion of Chris Kenner's "Land of a Thousand Dances" inside "Land." On 1979's Wave she covered the Byrds "So You Want to Be (A Rock and Roll Star)," and scored with the single. Her intuitive reading of Bob Dylan's "Wicked Messenger" was a beautiful aspect of Gone Again in 1996, and she paid tribute to Allen Ginsberg by using one of his poems in "Spell," on 1997's Peace and Noise. And who can forget her reading of Pete Townshend's "My Generation" issued on the 30th Anniversary edition of Horses? While it's a popular notion these days to consider a covers album a stop-gap between albums, the truth is that Smith has never been in a hurry when it comes to recording, though she has been very productive over the last decade. She has always paid tribute in one form or another to her heroes, however disparate. This collection is a wondrous sampling of pop hits, hard rock, ballads, and soul done in Smith's inimitable way of interpreting songs -- by getting inside them and breathing their meaning, and often uncovering new shades of meaning -- from within. She begins with a newer, more spiritual reading of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" letting her fine band -- Jay Dee Daugherty, Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan -- pulse the tune's changes and vibe while she comes across as a shaman leading the way down into the underworld. Her taking on Tears for Fears' smash hit "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" may come as a surprise, but in her open-throated take, the tune brims with the wisdom of a prophetess proclaiming the folly of humankind's need for power and greed. And while her version of Neil Young's "Helpless" may come across as a bit too reverent, the seed of memory is what infuses her take on this beautiful ballad. Loss and remembrance become a memento mori, an effigy to those who who've traveled on from this plane of existence. "Gimme Shelter" is a natural, and it carries all the foreboding of an apocalypse out the original nearly 40 years later as if to say that Jagger and Richard were right all along. The tune becomes a plea for shelter, rather than a demand. George Harrison's "Within You Without You" is the complete blending of spiritual longing, with droning acoustic guitars, skittering snares and open chord drones from Kaye's electric and fleshly experience. Smith's read of Dylan's "Changing of the Guard" is ambitious. Where the original was drenched in mariachi horns and a female backing chorus, she overturns those trappings and accents Dylan's last expressionistic lyric. She sings as if everything is at stake in this clash between the forces of light and darkness, where Melville, Dumas, Joan of Arc, the myth of Orpheus and the tales of Ovid are informed by both biblical prophecy and the tarot. The meld of acoustic guitars, brushed drums and muted kickdrum wind around her. The piano and Kaye's muted electric guitars fill the space where most of the backing vocals and horns once were -- except where Smith's daughter Jesse Paris Smith harmonizes -- and seduce the emotion out of the nearly surreal narrative of renunciation. Perhaps no tune moves here like Smith's reading of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," with help from Sam Shepherd and John Cohen on banjo, Peter Stampfel on fiddle, and Kaye and Duncan Webster on guitar in a strange dreamscape driven by a standup bass. Smith digs into the lyric and then offers a poem that is as much an early American folk song elegy to the environment Kurt Cobain grew up in as it is to what's happening to America itself, but with current touches. Her poet's heart not only complements the original but makes the song timeless and brings Cobain's mature spirit to flesh once more. It is the most moving track on the set and the most visionary. Smith closes her set with a true outlaws campfire song in Gregg Allman's "Midnight Rider," and a darker than written, sparsely textured, elegiac cover of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise," with a truly haunting piano by Luis Resto. Her small notes annotating each track are welcome and revealing in and of themselves. If this is truly the covers album Smith has always wanted to record, she's succeeded on a level with the best of her studio recordings and a welcome addition to her catalog. Each song has her imprint without sacrificing the intent or spirit of the original. Full of slow burning passion and emotion, Twelve is magnificent. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released August 23, 2011 | Arista - Legacy

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Rock - Released March 19, 2002 | Arista

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Rock - Released June 1, 2012 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rock - Released July 1, 1996 | Arista

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After years of silence, Patti Smith returned to music with a series of concerts in late 1995. It had been years since she had performed live -- for most of the '80s and '90s, she concentrated on domestic life. Following the death of her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, in early 1995, Smith began playing music in public again and those concerts eventually led to the triumphant comeback Gone Again. Her husband wasn't the only loved one Smith lost between 1988's Dream of Life and 1996's Gone Again -- her brother and her close friend Robert Mapplethorpe both died. Appropriately, grief and loss hang over Gone Again, but the overall effect is not one of indulgent melancholy. Instead, it's a sober but strengthing listen -- this is healing optimistic music. Like most of Smith's best work, the songs on Gone Again aren't proper songs, they're song poems, with cascading music and dense, inspired lyrics. Smith sounds more mature than her earlier records -- there are only a handful of out-and-out rockers, and most of the album is subtle and folky -- which gives the album extra weight. Gone Again is more than a comeback, it's a revitalization -- Patti Smith simply hasn't sound so engaged and provocative since Easter. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 1, 1988 | Arista - Legacy

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The big difference between Patti Smith's four 1970s albums and this return to action after nine years lies in the choice of collaborator. Where Smith's main associate earlier had been Lenny Kaye, a deliberately simple guitarist, here her co-writer and co-producer (with Jimmy Iovine) was her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, formerly of the MC5, who played guitar with a conventional rock competence and who lent his talents to each of the tracks, giving them a mainstream flavor. In a sense, however, these polished love songs, lullabies, and political statements are not to be compared to the poetic ramblings of Smith's first decade of music-making -- she's so much...calmer this time out. But you can't help it. Where the Patti Smith of Horses inspired a generation of female rockers, the Patti Smith of Dream of Life sounds like she's been listening to later Pretenders albums and taking tips from Chrissie Hynde, one of her spiritual daughters. Dream of Life is the record of someone who is simply showing the flag, trying to keep her hand in, rather than announcing her comeback. Not surprisingly, having made it, Smith retreated from the public eye again until the '90s. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 1, 2000 | Arista

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Patti Smith's late-'90s comeback was devoted to reflective, intensely emotional music that explored her life in seclusion and the losses that forced her to reconnect with the larger world. They were acclaimed, ambitious, successful records, but they steered away from Smith's angry, activist muse, plus her penchant for visceral music. She rediscovers both on Gung Ho, her most immediate album in years. "Immediate" doesn't necessarily mean rock & roll, though. At times, she does reconnect with garage punk, notably on the Farifisa-fueled "Persuasion" and "Glitter in Their Eyes," which is graced by the guitar of Tom Verlaine, but her remarkable band -- featuring guitarists Lenny Kaye and Oliver Ray, bassist Tony Shanahan, and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty -- sounds direct and forceful even on the mid-tempo cuts that dominate the album. Smith doesn't shy away from the personal -- after all, the cover shot features her father, Grant, and the title track appears to deal with his war experiences -- but she works on a broader plane throughout the album, concentrating on larger, social messages even in the more intimate moments. The result may not be as haunting as Gone Again, but it's superficially nervier, reminiscent of a subdued, mature version of Easter. In other words, it's another handsome, shaded, and satisfying work from an artist who has reconnected with her muse. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 1, 1988 | Arista

The big difference between Patti Smith's four 1970s albums and this return to action after nine years lies in the choice of collaborator. Where Smith's main associate earlier had been Lenny Kaye, a deliberately simple guitarist, here her co-writer and co-producer (with Jimmy Iovine) was her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, formerly of the MC5, who played guitar with a conventional rock competence and who lent his talents to each of the tracks, giving them a mainstream flavor. In a sense, however, these polished love songs, lullabies, and political statements are not to be compared to the poetic ramblings of Smith's first decade of music-making -- she's so much...calmer this time out. But you can't help it. Where the Patti Smith of Horses inspired a generation of female rockers, the Patti Smith of Dream of Life sounds like she's been listening to later Pretenders albums and taking tips from Chrissie Hynde, one of her spiritual daughters. Dream of Life is the record of someone who is simply showing the flag, trying to keep her hand in, rather than announcing her comeback. Not surprisingly, having made it, Smith retreated from the public eye again until the '90s. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 30, 1997 | Arista

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After a prolonged retirement, Patti Smith returned to action in 1996 with Gone Again. It was recorded after she suffered the loss of both her brother and her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, two losses so great that it's not surprising she is still exploring that pain on Peace and Noise, which quickly followed Gone Again in 1997. Patti had been working on Peace and Noise with Fred before his death, and its issues are appropriately more domestic than those on Gone Again. Throughout most of the record, she explores aging and raising children, trying to find a place for her family in the modern world while coming to terms with her aging rebelliousness. The music on Peace and Noise trims away the sonic bluster and anthemic rocking of Gone Again, preferring a sparse, piano-based musical foundation. As a result, her words resonate clearly and have a succinct, poetic power that was lacking on the otherwise worthy Gone Again. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 27, 2004 | Columbia - Legacy

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Nearly 30 years and nine albums in, Patti Smith shows no signs of giving up, or giving in, despite the fact she expected to be quietly doing her work instead of making rock & roll albums and playing in front of audiences. But then 9/11, Afghanistan, war in Iraq. Smith lives the vocation of a poet in an old-world sense of that word. Once, bards were the gadflies of society. Smith's Trampin' is a work that directly evolves from that tradition and fits squarely in her oeuvre. Trampin' is Smith's first outing for new label Columbia. She and her bandmates -- Lenny Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty, Tony Shanahan, and Oliver Ray -- walk the tightrope between in-your-face garage rock, poetic ballads, and raucous, improvisational pieces (à la "Radio Ethiopia"). Not surprisingly, Trampin' is a largely political album, but it is far from a didactic one. Smith's voice of resistance is a human one, not an ideological one. She and her band cut much of the record live from the floor, and with the exception of the field recorded sounds of children playing in the street in "Radio Baghdad" and immediate and guttural strings added to "My Blakean Year," it comes off as both an immediate and organic record. Smith celebrates what is unique and beautiful in this America while castigating those who would abolish it in favor of homogeneity and submission. Whether it is the razored, riff-driven rock of "Stride of the Mind," the tough, anthemic pounce of "Jubilee," or the haunting midtempo countrified tunes like "Mother Rose," "Trespasses," or "Cash," the sober-eyed critical examination, the exhortation to find the truth and to celebrate life are everywhere. Likewise, in longer pieces like "Ghandi" and "Radio Baghdad," modes and grooves are locked and loaded. Poetry, both sung and spoken, engages the swirling, wavelike roars of apocalyptic power and chaos her band creates and splits the seams with the authority of her language, which claims no authority but that of the victim -- which is all the authority there is. "My Blakean Year" is an acoustic anthem, the confession of a vision that is given full fruit in the largely acoustic "Peaceable Kingdom." The title track is also the closer. A duet between Smith's daughter Jesse Lee Smith's piano and Patti's voice, it is a folk song written in the gospel tradition. One can hear the ghosts of Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, and Mimi Fariña in seams between the keys under Jesse's fingers and the wavering, tender grain in Smith's voice. This is timeless music. It knows no age or subgenre classification; it is American music as it has been spoken the world over; it is rock & roll done as well as it can be by anybody. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 4, 1996 | Arista

Although the six-disc box set The Patti Smith Masters: The Collective Works contains some of the most groundbreaking rock & roll ever recorded, Masters is essentially useless. The set contains all five of Patti Smith's albums from the '70s and '80s, which have all been digitally remastered and feature bonus tracks. A sixth disc, which was issued as a promotional item to radio, collects highlights from the five albums and functions as a greatest-hits package. On its own, it's quite an effective introduction, but as part of the box set, it is entirely superfluous -- everything on the disc, with the exception of "Summer Cannibals," taken from Gone Again, a 1996 album not included, is already in the box. Furthermore, the box contains no booklet, it just houses the six CDs. So, Masters serves no purpose. Completists will find all the songs on the standard issues of the album, casual fans will find it cheaper to buy the individual discs, and collectors will find that the value of the promotional disc is next to nothing, since thousands of copies were widely distributed. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released August 10, 2004 | Columbia

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Rock - Released June 5, 1974 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released April 27, 2004 | Columbia

Nearly 30 years and nine albums in, Patti Smith shows no signs of giving up, or giving in, despite the fact she expected to be quietly doing her work instead of making rock & roll albums and playing in front of audiences. But then 9/11, Afghanistan, war in Iraq. Smith lives the vocation of a poet in an old-world sense of that word. Once, bards were the gadflies of society. Smith's Trampin' is a work that directly evolves from that tradition and fits squarely in her oeuvre. Trampin' is Smith's first outing for new label Columbia. She and her bandmates -- Lenny Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty, Tony Shanahan, and Oliver Ray -- walk the tightrope between in-your-face garage rock, poetic ballads, and raucous, improvisational pieces (à la "Radio Ethiopia"). Not surprisingly, Trampin' is a largely political album, but it is far from a didactic one. Smith's voice of resistance is a human one, not an ideological one. She and her band cut much of the record live from the floor, and with the exception of the field recorded sounds of children playing in the street in "Radio Baghdad" and immediate and guttural strings added to "My Blakean Year," it comes off as both an immediate and organic record. Smith celebrates what is unique and beautiful in this America while castigating those who would abolish it in favor of homogeneity and submission. Whether it is the razored, riff-driven rock of "Stride of the Mind," the tough, anthemic pounce of "Jubilee," or the haunting midtempo countrified tunes like "Mother Rose," "Trespasses," or "Cash," the sober-eyed critical examination, the exhortation to find the truth and to celebrate life are everywhere. Likewise, in longer pieces like "Ghandi" and "Radio Baghdad," modes and grooves are locked and loaded. Poetry, both sung and spoken, engages the swirling, wavelike roars of apocalyptic power and chaos her band creates and splits the seams with the authority of her language, which claims no authority but that of the victim -- which is all the authority there is. "My Blakean Year" is an acoustic anthem, the confession of a vision that is given full fruit in the largely acoustic "Peaceable Kingdom." The title track is also the closer. A duet between Smith's daughter Jesse Lee Smith's piano and Patti's voice, it is a folk song written in the gospel tradition. One can hear the ghosts of Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, and Mimi Fariña in seams between the keys under Jesse's fingers and the wavering, tender grain in Smith's voice. This is timeless music. It knows no age or subgenre classification; it is American music as it has been spoken the world over; it is rock & roll done as well as it can be by anybody. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 2, 2020 | Lockdown Music

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Rock - Released November 7, 2016 | Wireless USA Records

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Rock - Released April 29, 2021 | Cult Legends

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Rock - Released February 13, 2020 | GBMT