Wednesday, March 3, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Patti Smith (3/3/78) 32 Years!

Though rightly given the moniker “Godmother of Punk,” Patti Smith drew much broader appeal than that of the hard-core punks who came after her. (A Patti Smith playlist will be on DrRock.com shortly). Many of Smith’s earliest songs were primitive, stripped-down rock ‘n roll and garage rock in the punk vein. Her first two albums, Horses (1975) and Radio Ethiopia (1976) were unquestionably the lead-in to the punk movement. But she also delivered shining examples of toned-down punk with melodies and poetic lyrics that actually held meaning, and thus was far more accessible than most of the buzzsaw noise that pounded New York, London and Los Angeles in the late 70s.

Smith’s third album, the March 3, 1978 release, Easter was the most entertaining (and commercially viable) of all of her early works. Sure, there’s the fury of “Babelogue,” the snarl of “Space Monkey” and the indignation of “Rock N Roll Nigger.” But there’s also the straight-ahead rock of “Till Victory,” the sweetly plodding, vaguely choral sound of the title track, and the emphatic hit “Because The Night,” the song she co-wrote with Springsteen and took to Top 10 status in the U.K. and #13 in the U.S.

Smith moved just enough away from the punk movement she helped launch to score a Top 20 album that charted for over five months. And with Easter, she also unmistakably opened the door for 80s hard rocking females like Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Joan Jett and the Wilson sisters of Heart.

Easter is available as a CD and mp3 files on Amazon (click here), and as iPod downloads on iTunes (click here).

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Heart (2/14/76) 34 Years!


Heart. A debut album from a sister act. Two hotties in longing poses on the cover. Dreamboat Annie, the title. Released on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1976. How perfectly arranged! (Find Heart’s playlist here).

It didn’t take long to discern that this was no fluff-stuff. Nancy and Ann Wilson shot Cupid’s arrow dead on - pure, straight-ahead rock from a female perspective. Yes, Pat Benatar and Joan Jett snarled and rocked harder, but Heart covered all the bases. Hard rock with harmonies (“Magic Man” and “Crazy On You”, both now classics), dreamy-folksy love songs (the title track), and sweet female vocalist MOR pop-rockers (“I’ll Be Your Song”), even though they never made the soft-rock AM radio charts (but should have).

The debut topped out at #7 on the album charts in the US and launched what became one of the most important female rock acts (and attractive sisters, no less) in the 70s and 80s. Dreamboat Annie is available on CD, LP or mp3 at Amazon. Downloads for iPods are on iTunes.

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