Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rapid Reaction: Patti Smith - Horses

I suppose the good question is this: how did it take me so long to get to this record?  And my answer is this: I sincerely don't know.  It's got all the connections that would put it on my radar: John Cale produced this, it counts as proto-punk, Tom Verlaine played on the record and you can connect Van Morrison and the Smiths to this.  I realize that my position pretty indefensible...there is no real excuse for not hearing this until now,  but at least I've now rectified that mistake.

I've listened to it once and am currently working through it the second time as I write this, and I can honestly say it deserves all the cred it gets: it's a masterwork.  It's one of those records that will blow your mind open; it blasts your brains, picks up the pieces and reforms your brain into something new.  All from the first note.

Aside from the intro to "Gloria" that slinks in before it makes its presence known, the record is a ball of fury and energy, and if you're not getting blitzed by the energy in the proto-punk sound, you're getting blitzed by her lyrics, which are part beat poetry and part stream-of-consciousness not unlike the master himself, Bob Dylan.  The sound has a proto-punk roar that hangs around the big guys like the Velvet Underground, and Patti Smith sounds like an extremely angry cross between Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.  The passion in this record doesn't just seep out and let you "sort of" feel it: the amount of passion in this record is explosion-inducing and you feel it.  And if you don't, you're not alive.  Plain and simple.

I don't know how else to put it.  This record is a force of nature.  And it's one to behold.  I'm sure a lot of others have been able to wax more poetic about it than I have, but maybe that would do the record an injustice, as it's so stripped down and bare in its proto-punk approach, that to speak more about is contrary to the spirit of the record.  It's one that has to be heard to be believed.

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