Home Read Classic Album Review: Patti Smith | Trampin’

Classic Album Review: Patti Smith | Trampin’

The veteran post-punk poetess remains as vital, vibrant and comitted as ever.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


On the long list of things I just don’t get, this is right up there at the top: How can it be that Bob Seger is in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Patti Smith is not? (Editor’s Note: Smith was inducted — finally — in 2007.)

Oh, nothing against Bob; he did some fine work back in, oh, the late ’60s and early ’70s. But these days, it’s Patti, bless her soul, who’s like a rock. Nearly 30 years after her first album, Smith remains as vital, vibrant and committed as ever — and all the proof you need is found in the punk-poetess lyrics and hypnotic grooves of her potent and suitably earthy ninth disc Trampin’.

Backed as always by a wiry band of longtime foils like guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, Smith gets her shaman on for 63 minutes, sifting the ashes of post-9/11 America and channelling the spirits while the boys weave transfixing backdrops out of circular guitar lines and subliminally simple beats. Granted, Trampin’ isn’t always her most immediate album — longer, partially improvised tracks like the nine-minute Gandhi and the 12-minute epic Radio Baghdad aren’t exactly geared for our short attention-span world.

If it’s quiet beauty you want, Trampin’ delivers that on the titular closing cut, a traditional gospel-folk number featuring just Smith’s plaintive voice and daughter Jesse on piano. With its bare yearning and unadorned grace, it’s every bit as powerful as anything Smith has done. It that isn’t enough to get her a plaque on the wall in Cleveland, I don’t know what is.