Friday, 23 November 2018

Patti Smith - Fire Of Unknown Origin (1988)

Patti Smith was always something of an outsider when she emerged onto the New York punk scene, as she was primarily known as a poet rather than a singer. However, after setting some of her poems to music and recording them with a band that included guitarist and rock archivist Lenny Kaye, she released them as the highly influential 'Horses' album in 1975, and established herself as a leading light in the New York punk community. Before that, though, she'd released the 'Hey Joe'/'Piss Factory' single in 1974, neither of which made it onto 'Horses', with the A-side being a version of the rock standard with the addition of a spoken word piece about fugitive heiress Patty Hearst, who had been kidnapped and confined against her will, and had been repeatedly threatened with execution and raped. The B-side describes the helpless anger Smith had felt while working on a factory assembly line, and the salvation she discovered in the form of a shoplifted book by the 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, entitled 'Illuminations'. After 'Horses' had made her name she scored her biggest hit with a Bruce Springsteen co-write on 'Because The Night', putting her firmly in the mainstream media. Following a string of successful albums she retired from music in 1988, re-emerging in 1996 for a second wave of success, but her heyday was that decade where she reinvented what a punk band could sound like. Some of the singles that she released during that period contained exclusive b-sides which I've collected here, and listening to them you can hear how her career progressed from punk-poet to fully-fledged musician.   

Track listing

01 Hey Joe (single 1974)
02 Piss Factory (b-side of 'Hey Joe')
03 My Generation (b-side of 'Gloria' 1976)
04 Chicklets (previously unreleased)
05 Godspeed (b-side of 'Because The Night' 1978)
06 Fire Of Unknown Origin (b-side of 'Frederick' 1979)
07 5-4-3-2-1 Wave (b-side of 'Dancing Barefoot' 1979)
08 Wild Leaves (b-side of 'People Have The Power' 1988)
09 As The Night Goes By (Previously unreleased)


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