Intriguing but flawed,
This review is from: Radio Ethiopia [VINYL] (Vinyl)
The Patti Smith Group's second album is less "poetic" and more "heavy metal" than the spectacular debut Horses or the commercially successful follow-up Easter.
The compelling mid-tempo rocker Ask The Angels is followed by Aint It Strange, a slow number with intense vocals and hints of reggae in the rhythm. Poppies resembles Aint It Strange in tempo, beat and vocals although it contains some quite subdued segments with tender spoken moments. Thematically it recalls the Velvet Underground's Heroin on their legendary debut album.
The slow rock ballad Vrinating In A River recaptures some of the first album's poetic qualities in both structure and imagery. The band's power and passion explodes in full fury on the uptempo Pumping (My Heart) whilst Distant Fingers stands out. A melodious ballad, Distant Fingers ranks among Smith's most memorable love songs like Looking For You, Farewell Reel and Frederick.
However, the title track and Abyssinia are somewhat unstructured and messy, no doubt very avant garde but I prefer songs to be tuneful and accessible. In retrospect, this album reminds me a lot of Peace and Noise. There are gorgeous "anarchic" pics and stream-of-consciousness liner notes.