Patti Smith made a name for herself as a pioneer of NYC’s seminal punk scene, most notably as it relates to the birth of the legendary CBGBs rock club on Bowery, and she has continued to evolve through a career that’s lasted over three decades. Along with her original band, The Patti Smith Group (Guitarist/co-songwriter Lenny Kaye, Drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, Bassist/co-songwriter Ivan Kral and Keyboardist Richard Sohl (RIP) – each a phenomenally talented musician and creative force) with whom she recorded her first four albums, and later as a solo artist, Smith is undeniably one of the most unique and influential artists to emerge in the late 70s. As both a versatile artist (poet, musician, author) and an outspoken activist, Patti Smith is a Woman Who Rocks in every sense of the word.
Smith’s impressive music catalog has already been afforded three compilations culled from her studio recordings, but record labels know when the public is ripe for a new offering. With her having recently won multiple awards for her book, Just Kids, Sony Legacy has put together an album to catch the attention of those who may just now be getting hip to Patti Smith, or fans who are ready for rediscovery. Outside Society – the title taken from a lyric in the refrain of Smith’s arguably most powerful and emotionally charged composition (and my personal favorite), “Rock & Roll Nigger” – is an 18 song, single-disc compilation covering Smith’s recordings from her ten studio albums between the years 1975 to 2007. The disc not only includes many of Smith’s “Greatest Hits” – such as her recorded-live version of “Gloria,” her collaboration with Bruce Springsteen, “Because The Night” and the transcendent “Dancing Barefoot” – but it also features an indispensable selection of deep album tracks that casual fans will likely be unfamiliar with. If you are seeking an introduction to Patti Smith or a way to flesh out owning just one or two albums of hers, Outside Society is must own collection.
In addition to always surrounding herself with highly talented musicians and collaborators, Patti Smith has also worked with a cache of rock music’s most accomplished and legendary producers, including Jack Douglas, Jimmy Iovine and Todd Rundgren, who helped to sculpt her sound, allowing her to remain authentic no matter what genre she tackled. From the raw punkinesss of “Gloria” to one of her most polished pop songs, “Frederick,” (one of the many love songs she wrote for her husband, the late Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5) she absolutely owns every performance. Each song on this record, and consider that the styles presented are extremely diverse, sounds amazing and fresh, like it was just recorded.
Patti Smith has covered many rock classics in her storied career – from “Gloria” (a song first made popular by Them as fronted by Van Morrison) to the Byrds’ anthemic “So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star” and, most recently, Nirvana’s breakthrough, genre-defining hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” With each interpretation of compositions that many would consider untouchable, Smith makes the song her own with the infusion of her poetry and her inherent ability to tap into the creative essence of each song. Adding further value to an aurally sublime compilation, Outside Society includes Patti’s insightful, autobiographical notes and personal commentary on each track. Her own remembrances of the circumstances surrounding the writing / recording of each track are not only profoundly moving, but often heartbreaking, revealing her to be a woman who has coped with her share of life-changing loss while unfailingly championing individuality and the triumph of the underdog. God Bless Patti Smith.
Remastered by Greg Calbi and Tony Shanahan, Outside Society will be released on Arista/Columbia/Legacy on August 23, 2011 as a single-disc digipak CD and on vinyl as a Double LP set. Track Listing is As Follows:
2. Free Money
3. Ain’t It Strange
4. Pissing In A River
5. Because The Night
6. Rock N Roll Nigger
7. Dancing Barefoot
9. So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star
10. People Have the Power
11. Up There Down There
12. Beneath The Southern Cross
13. Summer Cannibals
15. Glitter In Their Eyes
16. Lo and Beholden [radio edit]
17. Smells Like Teen Spirit