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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Patti Smith

MUSIC REVIEWS

 

Patti Smith-Twelve (Columbia)

It is weird thinking of recent Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Patti Smith -- arguably one of the great songwriters of recent decades -- doing an album completely of covers of other artists' work.

Not that Patti isn't great with reinterpreting other songs.  She first really popped onto most people's radar with her cover of Them's "Gloria" back in the 70s.  Even as recently as her career-spanning anthology a couple of years ago she nailed Prince's "When Doves Cry."  Still, when I heard her new CD Twelve would have no Smith originals it was kind of a shock.

Of course, Smith doesn't just follow trends -- if she is going to do a tribute album she will do it her way.  It mostly works.

You have to give Smith credit for guts -- she doesn't shy away from some of the seminal songs and artists of recent music history.  For example the acoustic accordion-laced cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" would have been a huge leap even if that song hadn't been deconstructed by so many others over the years (people like Tori Amos and even Paul Anka had put their own special stamp on the grunge classic.)  The Smith take on the tune is more interesting than actually good -- it's a great exercise but not sure I'll listen to it with any regularity.

On the other hand, when she sticks a little more closely to the original blue prints, including a sweeping take on Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," a charming revival of Paul Simon's Graceland-era "The Boy in the Bubble" and a witchy take on the Doors' "Soul Kitchen."  There is also a wonderfully unpretentious nod at Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule the World" and a subtly yearning version of Stevie Wonder's "Pasttime Paradise" -- the song which Coolio sampled years ago for his smash hit "Gangsta's Paradise."

Twelve is not ever going to become anyone's favorite Smith CD, but even on cruise control Patti Smith is always worth hearing.  (4/07)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.  Posted: May 4, 2007.

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Copyright 2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.  Posted: May 4, 2007.