This page is intended to share our listening experiences and feature some of the albums listed in our Top 500. We will be writing 'album of the week' pieces to describe our experience of listening to an album on the list, whether discovering it for the first time or coming back after a long time. We invite you to listen to this album too and share your thoughts below. We are also inviting to you to write your own Album of the Week pieces to share (see bottom of page).
Horses is one of the albums all true music lovers know, if perhaps without really knowing. Its famous for its cover alone, and for the sort of effortless cool that the name Patti Smith conjures up – with a background from the New York CBGBs scene, also a poet - a regular in Geenwich Village clubs like Max’s Kansas City, Smith seemed to link the punk world with the earlier Dylan folkie world of New York. She even accepted Dylan’s Noble Prize for him when he was to busy to show up. She is also famous for covering Springsteen’s Because the Night. In other words, she fits comfortably into the classic rock album scene and has been praised by critics for generations. The album was even produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground so basically the whole set-up sounds like a rock critic’s wet dream.
But how many of us have actually listened to Horses all the way through? Probably like most people I was familiar with her sort of-cover of Them’s Gloria (G-L-O-R-I-A !!) and Land:Horses with its repetitive but strangely compelling refrain (Horses, Horses, Horses, Horses..!). So this poet is certainly good at spelling things out and repeating words. Whilst I liked those songs they could get annoying, or so I thought. Maybe that is why I never listened to the rest of the album.
Picking it up via my streaming site for my lockdown challenge I finally listened to it all the way through – and I was very impressed. Gloria and Land:Horses aren’t even the best songs on the album (mine is now Redondo Beach). Patti recites her lyrics over simple repetitive guitar lines by her guitarist Lenny Kaye. I was immediately drawn into this cool but inviting New York seventies world, gazing at the cover and tapping my foot to the return of Rock’n’Roll standard Bonie Maronie, now sitting within a wholly new song. These are rock’n’roll staples, re-done rather simply, but the spare instrumentation is trance like and creates the perfect backing for her lyrics, which she delivers with a vocal line that instantly grabs you and holds your attention. There are ten minute epics, repeating themes (those Horses for one) but I was never bored and the quality never let up. This was something very new in 1975, whilst also building on rock’s heritage, and still sounds fresh and new today. I recommend everyone listens to this all the way through. It seems the critics were right all along.
We also invite Album of the Week pieces from our readers. If the mood takes you please contribute a piece for consideration below. If we like your style we will give it a quick edit and post here. These should be your honest and personal reviews, they don't all need to be glowing with praise! How do you think the album stands up today? Has it made you listen to something you would not have done before and discover a new area of music? Are you revisiting something you have not listened to for a long time; if so how do you feel about it now, have your thoughts changed? The ideal review should give a bit f background to the recording of it, tell us where you are coming from with it, and give us your thoughts on it.