My Essential 100 Albums – number 3 – Horses by Patti Smith


Horses – Patti Smith (1975)

This was The and Glorious (to use her official title) Patti Smith’s first album and was released in December 1975. This album rescued me from a life in which I thought that music was dying, if not dead. I was blown away by the power and majesty of what she was trying to do.

The first track that I heard was Gloria. It was one of those moments that stick in your mind. “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine”. A glorious opening, unexpected, haunting and thought provoking. Then it opens up to a song sung by Van Morrison while he was with Them. By half way through the track I had forgotten the original version. It is one of those rare things a cover that supersedes and improves on the original. She owns that song.

There are several very song tracks on this album. Although always credited as a leading light of punk the album includes “Birdland” that reflects her mother’s love of Jazz. The lyrics for that song is based “A Book of Dreams” by Wilhelm Reich. The album also references Arthur Rimbaud. This was just another punk album it was made by someone with a love of classic rock, of art, and the art of words. During the following years Patti fell in love, fell out of love with the music business, and returned to recording and performing.

Always Great and always Glorious Patti’s first album was a statement of intent that she followed up magnificently with some seminal works. Most people’s catalogues would be enhanced if they produced even one album half as good as Horses. For Patti this was just the first in a string of wonderful recordings.

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