So what happened was that Patti Smith put on Horses on the record player one fine day and suddenly it struck her that there was no music on the record. “It’s just me murmuring hippie mumbo jumbo” she said and decided that something had to be done about this. Therefore we got Radio Ethiopia which is a step up from Horses but fails spectacularly in some vital aspects, one of them being that it fails to entertain me, and drives me into a stupor, not the lovely blessed sleep of Sigur Ros or Pink Floyd, but the boring ass stupor caused by *name of shitty bands I don’t like*.
What Patti Smith thought was that her band was the equivalent of the Doors and that she was the female equivalent of Jim Morrison. If Patti Smith & Friends had been tighter, meaner and more focused and more earthy and relevant then what they would have been at best would be something like the inferior version of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Gang. What they turned out to be in the end was watered down 70’s pop rock with an old lady singing odes of praise to her husband. What Patti Smith failed to understand is that it is ok to have 9 minute songs when you are called Yes or King Crimson and have Rick Wakeman and Robert Fripp in your band but if it’s just Patti Smith with a scraggly, hoarse voice that is off key and a bunch of no-namers in your backing band then its best to stick to short 4 minute basic punkish rock songs about having sex and drugs ala The Ramones.
Having said all that, it was relief to me that this album has got some music. Real guitars at last, all the way, well, not all the way, but most of it. No 10 minute wails about suicides, so that is a step up. However the number of songs that are good is still not a lot i.e. only 2.5 outta 9. This album shows that Patti had the potential to be good, she only had to do the basics right. For example, the opener, Ask the Angels. Nothing much, a piano in the background with basic guitar chords, but dang effective, coupled with Patti’s vocals which suddenly start sounding a lot more meaningful, just because she’s not acting the heroine for once. However the rest of the album (most of it) blows. The title track is a 9 minute snooze fest, with the spoken word poetry crap making a return. Pumping (My heart) is a generic, oh so generic rock’n’roll song with the irritating one note piano banging away reminding me of such immortal classics like “If You Don’t Like Rock’n’Roll” and “Rock’n’Roll is King”. This doesn’t sound right. At all.
Recommended Songs: – Ask the Angels, Pissing in a River, Poppies (some of it at least).