Monday, December 27, 2010

Patti Smith Group - Teenage Perversity and Ships in the NIght

I bought this vinyl bootleg when it came out in the late 70's, but hadn't pulled it out in ages. It stills stands up as one of the best 70's boots and a superb document of the PSG at their finest.

This was recorded at the Roxy in Los Angeles in 1976 - not long after the band's debut album, Horses, was released to immense critical acclaim. The set list for this show is, of course, mostly drawn from that record, but it has some nice surprises. Side one opens and closes with Velvet Underground covers - Patti was not afraid to wear her influences on her sleeves - starting with the appropriate "We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together" and finishing with a spot-on take of "Pale Blue Eyes" that moves effortlessly into a short coda of "Louie Louie"!

In between, the band pulls out "Privilege (Set Me Free)", from the soundtrack of the sacrilegious movie of the same title that they did not record until the Easter album, "Ain't It Strange" (with Lenny's spoken intro audible, unlike the LP's version which has this buried in the mix), "Kimberly", and "Redondo Beach" (before which Iggy Pop jumps on stage to say how great the band is). All of these are given an extra intensity and some changes - especially lyrically - here and there.

Side two opens with "Pumping (My Heart)" from the 2nd record which goes into her two tour de forces, "Birdland" (beginning with a monologue where Patti is simply speaking to the audience that blends seamlessly into the song, almost without you realizing it) and "Gloria". Terrific audio trips of fantasy!

The climax is their punk-rock take on "My Generation" with John Cale on bass, sounding like he is simultaneously mangling and tripping over his instrument, and with such performed by everyone with such wild abandon that words become negligible but the energy is palpable. Fantastic!

These cats excelled in the studio, but their live shows were a true experience and this recording does its best to take you back to those times. Essential for any fan!