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Patti Smith: 'Outside Society' - Album review

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Patti Smith 'Outside Society'
Released on Monday, Sep 12 2011

Does the world really need another Patti Smith compilation? Land, which also had a bonus disc of rarities, came out in 2002 and Outside Society swaps just three of that best-of's hits for five of its own and shuffles them into an almost-chronological order.

The prompt for this new record is probably the success of Patti's award-winning 2010 memoir Just Kids. There's also been some storming recent gigs from an unofficial Patti Smith Group lineup that, by occasionally including the likes of Patrick Wolf and Kevin Shields, has made most incarnations of the Plastic Ono Band look boring.

And you can never listen to these songs too much. Smith borrows from Van Morrison but easily out-rocks Them. She pinches 'Because The Night' from Bruce, but her own stadium protest anthem 'People Have The Power' out-Bosses Springsteen. As on Land, the Dylanesque 'Summer Cannibals' and pop-punk 'Glitter In Their Eyes' get the extra exposure they deserve.

Patti's sludgy take on the Byrds' 'So You Want to Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)' is a rare dip, but her stripped back, Americana interpretation of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' lets you focus on a twisting, turning, terrific voice that the years have improved rather than diminished.

Lyrically, not many have surpassed her - maybe Dylan, only possibly Leonard Cohen. There's the great one-liners ("Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine"), overwhelming romance ("After the rapture two hearts meet/ Mine entwined in a single beat") and the mad, speaking-in-tongues incantations ("Over the skin of silk are scars from the splinters of stations and walls I've caressed"). This is music that not only epitomises pure rock 'n' roll but somehow both underpins and transcends all that came after.



Tracks to download: 'Gloria', 'P*ssing in a River', 'Because The Night', 'Summer Cannibals', 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

If you like this, you'll like: Bob Dylan, REM, The White Stripes, The Smiths

Listen to Patti Smith's 'Because The Night' below:

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