- Audio CD (26 April 2004)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Columbia
- ASIN: B00022VMRG
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,706 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Nearly 30 years after her extraordinary debut album, Horses, Patti Smith is still taking her role as poet as seriously as ever. The job description still reads; social commentator/conscience as much as a weaver of dreams. Aesthetically, Trampin' is an album that's a million miles away from the barbed wire urgency of Horses, yet lyrically and in spirit it's as urgent and insistent as ever. This isn't to say that Smith ever lapses into didacticism or preachiness. Her observations on a post-9/11 USA tread a fine line between beautiful reconciliation and righteous anger that's purely personal in its perspective. Maturity, it seems (Smith hit 57 last year) has allowed the former 'punk priestess' to find a middle ground that never smacks of compromise, yet allows itself to be as luxurious as it is hard-rocking.
A lot of this is due to Smith's current band. Now also approaching their third decade as her sidemen, old hands like Lenny Kaye and Jay Dee Daugherty along with second guitarist Oliver Ray (Smith's partner) provide a bedrock that's equal parts garage and tight professionalism. Not only is the playing accomplished, but Smith's vocals haven't lost the ability to glide between ballad and rant with ease. This adds a humanity that stops a song like the opener, ''Jubilee'' ('We will never fade away. Doves shall multiply. Yet I see hawks circling the sky, Scattering our glad day') becoming too anthemic. Yet she's still able to do the extended stream of invective stuff on ''Gandhi'' (a rather simplistic take on the man of peace) and ''Radio Baghdad''. The latter is a chilling, 12 minute condemnation of US foreign policy that focuses on the cultural heritage being tramped (ho ho) all over by Bush and his ilk. It also contains the sounds of Iraqi children at play.
But, for someone who's made her reputation as a somewhat scary, hard-hitting advocate of individual freedom and a woman's place in the phallocentric world of rock, this album drips with a sensitivity that makes all the worthiness infinitely more palatable. ''Mother Rose'' and ''Peaceable Kingdom'' (an optimistic song of solace for a country still traumatised by the loss of the twin towers) both beguile as much as move, and the title track's touching combination of Smith and her daughter on piano reminds us of her unquenchable belief in the human spirit over tyranny. In an age of apathy and irony Smith still wants to give power to the people -and that in itself is a reason to love this album... --Chris Jones
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Top Customer Reviews
Jubilee opens the album with Patti's typical rousing style. I don't think she has ever written a bad opener to an album and this counrtyesque rocker is contrasted beautifully with the soft Mother Rose, before switching back to more straightfoward rock in Stride of The Mind.
One thing I've always loved about Patti Smith is her loyal guitarist, Lenny Kaye and there is some really great guitar work on the album, particularly in the epics, Cartwheels, Gandhi and Radio Bagdad. Cartwheels is the tenderist of these and quite soft and perhaps a little too short to be an epic, but it's atmosphere alone makes it worth it. It also acts as a nice interlude before the stomping build up of Gandhi, which reminds me a little of the slow build created in Birdland from Smith's debut. Since Gone Again I lost my interest in Smith's longer tracks; I found Gung Ho lacking in any power and Memento Mori was just dull. However, Patti Smith proves with Radio Bagdad, her best 10 minute track ever, even better than Land. Her poetry is direct and powerful, the eastern effects are spine tingling, as is the pretty much the track as a whole. Listen to this with headphones and your eyes closed, completely surrounding yourself in the music and you'll find yourself reeling long after the song is over.
Between these two long tracks we have four tracks.Read more ›
"Trampin" is the sound of Patti trying to "make heaven her home," a message she explicitly preaches throughout the album, which can be interpreted as her heartfelt reaction to the Iraq War & 9/11, and her attempt to make sense of the world as a poet.
"Jubilee" begins the album in a typically beatific fashion. The violins resound over stirring, uplifting guitars as she beats of the message "freedom ring" over this powerful rock beat. This sets the elegiac but hopeful tone for the rest of the record.
Songs such as the haunting "Mother Rose" and the ballsy rocker "Stride of the Mind" are instantly emotional, powerful, engaging, melancholy and impassioned. Patti never lost her Muse, but she appears to have several operating at once on this album.
"Cartwheels" and "Trespasses" are longer, slower songs that explore a darker territory. They can be read as a metaphor for a "shift" in the world, a time when exclusion, danger and terror are playing a greater role in our lives. My one criticism is that they perhaps slow down the pace of the album (esp. "Trespasses") but they are beautiful songs in their own right.
"Gandhi" is an improvised rave-up in the style of "Birdland" but is political and devoid of bothersome jazzy piano. Over an incredible nine-minute build-up, citing Dr. King and taking a pop at the wise one himself (umm... Gandhi), this is a stunningly powerful piece of music. Smith's free-association lyrics have never been as strong as she begs her pardon in the sacred garden.Read more ›