PATTI SMITH
Horses/Horses (Arista/Columbia/ Legacy Recordings)

"Jesus died for someone's sins -- but not mine." Has there been a better opening line in all of rock 'n' roll? We think not. Don't take our word for it, though. Let's ask an expert. Here's Lester Bangs, writing for Creem in 1976: "[Horses] refuses to be background music, stops the action in the room when it's on and leaves its effects when it's over whether the listeners like it or not." Well said, and a useful definition of the purpose of music. Every woman-on-the-prowl pose, every flawless-flubbed guitar note and every brilliant-pretentious lyric can now be heard perfectly on the remastered first disc of Horses/Horses. But it's the second disc that justifies plunking down the cash for this reissue. This 2005 live reworking of Horses -- taken from the Meltdown Festival in London, where she played with much of her original band (plus Flea, weirdly) -- manages to update the original without ruining its original power. Horses was recorded as Smith turned 30. She's almost 60 now, but she's one rockin' granny. Listen to her growl her way through the rape scene in "Land," wailing, "Johnny crashing his head against the LOCK-AHH!" She updates "Elegie" by dropping Robert Mapplethorpe's name, among others, while lamenting the peace-love generation's vote for Bush on "My Generation." She's still got it, man. The live Horses is no oldies revue: It's a full-throttle kick to the groin -- one we didn't even know we needed.
Paul L. Underwood

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