Radio Ethiopia-PATTI SMITH-1976

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).

Baba T



5 thoughts on “Radio Ethiopia-PATTI SMITH-1976

  1. nice a day thatdoesntsoundright , i look your blog , be a nice blog and perfect. Good for me. bulk Pearl Jam and Patti Smith content. i will plan to read and comment your blog.

  2. Ha, you crazy..
    Poppies is a L/R stereo wonder, and the album is class…like Horses…and I don’t even like Patti. 😉

  3. Poppies didnt sound like a wonder to me at least. 6 months down the line this album sounds as unimportant and boring as ever. Patti Smith sucks, almost all the time. And I haven’t even started on her solo stuff yet. Thanks for visiting the blog…..keep coming!!!

  4. well well someone dont like ol patti!
    She’s Old, that wont do but dont forget it’ll happen to you too darl. Or is it that by the time you get Old ‘they/Science’ will have invented dope to fix all that and you can be young, arthritis pain-free and beautiful forever, or at least a long time or till you get Bored with Beauty? (Funny if you turn out to be 65-that’ll fix me).
    As well as Old there seems a problem with her singing about feelings and regard for her old man- not that I remember any references to Mr Fred on Radio Ethiopia. Check a biography, but I’m not sure she’d even met him, I think she was still domiciled with Alan Lanier of Blue Oyster Cult and having affair with Tom Verlaine. There’s a romantic song about this triad on Wave. I’m sure you’d hate it. And the song on Wave about the pope-you’d loathe that. Maybe I’m missing something but either way she cant hardly be being too blatant about her feelings. Hardly Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands or Sara. But then neither is Patti Bob. Or Dave or Rick or Syd or Jim, Tom, Dick or Bruce.
    Do you just not like women? Particularly women who believe in themselves and their work as artists and aren’t ashamed or embaressed to say so loudly?
    Or dont you like women who get off on men? Even in the later records I don’t recall disproportionate ravings about her loves; there are just as many songs to do with politics-local and international, art, literature, her parents, urban breakdown, religion, travel- a blessed relief from any 4minute screw me dos and I cant think of any 4 minute songs about drugs. Heroin goes on and on and Waiting for the Man, typically, does too. And Rock n roll songs about rock and roll? Hmm, tricky to get right tho Rolling Stones in their sensitive, introspective way do heaps, – the mind narrowing effect of lifestyles of the rich and famous. Wheras ol Patti has a great range of interests, obsessions, beliefs, ideals that jnspire her work. (For example I have just seen brilliant exhibition of William Kentridge’s drawings, animations, films, scuplture, opera sets and more, over 40 years, about politics (Sth Africa), love, desire, satire et al). So Ol Pats makes songs about her grief when Mr Fred dies and about her love for him and their children, not many mind you, just a handfull spread over 2 or 3 records. how excessive is that? For the remainder: usual suspects, the usual subjects that inspire people to do art: politics, sex, religio. And since we mustn’t talk about these at the dinner table, best scuttle off to the bedroom, garage, bathroom..and put it in a song.
    You cannot say she cannot sing. She has a strong, tuneful, expressive voice and it had improved out of sight when she ‘returned’ with Gone. You must’ve wish she’d stayed gone.
    You dont have to like or admire her but if you detest and despise her stay away from her and dont upset your digestion but if you really think she’s a public menace, liable to deprave and corrupt impressionable minds, maybe turn them into Naderites or admirers of HHDL or M. Gandhi, even dangerous menaces on the road like J.Pollock, you have a right, even a duty, to make your points. But it’ll go better if you get facts right and refrain from abuse just because arty, unkempt old dames who believe in the worth of their efforts are not your cup of tea and wont shut up.
    But cheer up: she’s gonna die, probably long before you.
    (Unless, again, you are 65 or 95 or ? and I am wrong again. I can cope tho, used to that.)

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