Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Next Tuesday brings the release of Patti Smith's new album Twelve, a collection of twelve cover songs by some of her "inspirations". I've been listening to an advance copy of it for a couple of weeks now. It is an interesting project, with her regular band (Lenny Kaye on guitar, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Tony Shanahan on bass and keyboards) being augemented by some high profile guests - Italian cellist Giovanni Sollima, playwright Sam Shepard on banjo, '60s Greenwich Village folk artists John Cohen (banjo) and Peter Stampfel (fiddle), RHCP bassist Flea, guitarist Tom Verlaine, Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) on slide guitar and dulcimer and hip-hop producer Luis Resto (Eminem) on keyboards. Patti's kids Jackson and Jesse contribute guitar and vocals. The list of artists covered is both obvious and surprising. Her '60s icons are all here - Hendrix, The Doors, The Beatles and the Stones, Dylan, Neil Young and Jefferson Airplane. These to me are the obvious choices and are the tracks that I think work best. Where it gets a bit surreal is in the remaining four picks - Stevie Wonder, Nirvana, Paul Simon and Tears For Fears. Stevie's Pastime Paradise is interesting - many will only know it as sample source material for Coolio's '90s hit Gangsta's Paradise. Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit is rendered as a bluegrass ballad with some of Patti's poetry added, and I actually like how it turns out. Paul Simon's Boy In The Bubble was originally jaunty Afro pop, and this version doesn't capture the vibe for me. Ditto Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE this song. When I first heard about Patti doing this I was psyched to hear it. She and the band pretty much play it straight, and it will never match the glory of the TFF original that way. So, if you stick to the '60s you'll probably enjoy this. Here are her takes on Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane...

Are You Experienced?
White Rabbit

No comments: