Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gung Ho, Patti Smith

Ok, this album was released in 2000. It seems a bit odd to review it, perhaps. But, over the past two weeks I have rediscovered the album. Also, my total admiration for Patti Smith makes a post about this album (and any of her albums) a bit of a requirement.

I discovered Patti Smith when I was in high school. I was a fan of Van Morrison and discovered Patti Smith did a "cover" of Morrison's 'Gloria.' How odd that Morrison would lead me to Smith, but that is the way it went.

I researched to find what album would be the best starting point. Turns out Horses is the album of all albums. And, this is true. Horses is a masterpiece. In fact, Easter is a masterpiece as well. Horses is the rock & roll Smith, Easter is the experimental Smith. I stayed focused on these two albums for the next six years. Until Smith released the beautiful, haunting, mellow Trampin. As this was the first album I heard a Smith album upon its actual release, this album holds a special place in my heart. 'Radio Baghdad' and 'Gandhi' are both incredible songs.

After Trampin, I worked my way backwards through her discography. For the longest time, I placed Gung Ho, Peace and Noise, and Gone Again into one giant album. I didn't put much effort into these albums. Gone Again had a few songs I enjoyed, the same can be said about Peace and Noise.

Dream of Life and Wave are Smith's weakest albums. But, each contain classic Smith songs- 'People Have the Power' and 'Dancing Barefoot.'

Radio Ethiopia is the most personal album. And, by personal, I mean the album I connect with on an emotional level. There are songs on this album that I can't imagine the world without, namely 'Pissing in a River.'

I group Smith albums into groups. The strongest: Horses, Radio Ethiopia, and Easter. The beautiful: Trampin, Gung Ho. The middle ground: Peace and Noise, Gone Again, Twelve. The weak: Dream of Life and Wave.

Gung Ho used to fall in the "middle ground" category until I pulled the album out a week ago. Quickly pushing itself into the "beautiful" category. The album is filled with a spiritual journey. Smith is best when she is longing for the lost. On Trampin, Smith sings to her mother. On Gung Ho, she sings to her father. Smith is an artist who gives her all to her art.

Gung Ho's greatest songs: 'China Bird,' 'Glitter in their Eyes,' and 'Gung Ho.'


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