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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Monday, December 14, 2009

 

Album of the Day: The Clash (1214/79) 30 Years!

London Calling is the best damn punk album ever. Period. It was released by The Clash (click here for my playlist) in the U.K. thirty years ago today on December 14, 1979 (it came out in the U.S. during January 1980).

Without losing one snarling bit of the raw, nervous, socio-politically nihilistic core of pure punk, The Clash spanned the late 70s abyss from mainstream pop-rock, power pop and straight-up rock ‘n roll to the driving noise of pure punk rock, and pulled everyone back across. And it’s no sell-out. A double album(!), London Calling is full of memorable riffs, toe-tapping rhythms, sing-along lyrics and more distinct genres than the Sex Pistols or Generation X could ever play. And it’s still basic punk.

London Calling has the shuffling reggae sounds of “Rudy Can’t Fail,” the anachronistic, danceable celebration of “Revolution Rock,” the pulsing but melodic punk of “Hateful,” the hard-rock title track, the roots rockabilly of “Brand New Cadillac,” and the hard-edged pop-rock of “Train In Vain” (which was not listed on the cover or Side 4 label of the original Epic vinyl release – but I’ve got mine!).

London Calling is an essential LP in any rock music collection. It’s a Grammy Hall of Fame record, #8 on the Rolling Stone Magazine list of the 500 top albums of all time, #1 on the magazine’s Top 100 Albums of the 80s, and available as a CD on Amazon (click here) and download tracks on iTunes (click here).

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