Horses: Patti Smith and her Band


40 years on and Horses, the debut album from Patti Smith is given a visual tribute. As Mac Randall wrote in The Observer, 

"The historical importance of Horses is inarguable, above and beyond any particular aesthetic considerations. It introduced, fully formed, a daring new mystic voice in popular music. It referenced a classic persona, that of the androgynous poet/rocker, and gave it an exciting twist: the poet/rocker in question was a woman. And for listeners outside of New York, it was the first real full-length hint of the artistic ferment taking place in the mid-’70s at the juncture of Bowery and Bleecker. "

I remember when this came out and I recall all of us listening over and over to what was a revelatory musical gift. I've loved Patti Smith over the years for her albums, for her books, for the fact that she walked away from rock stardom to live in domesticity with her husband Fred 'Sonic' Smith, and for returning to music after his death and making great albums all over again.

Live she is electric, her romantic and poet belief that transcendence could be found in rock and roll still firmly held in her outstretched arms and a voice that roars and screams and rages. "before rock and roll you only had God," said David Bowie and you can't help but know that captures some of Patti's perspective as well. It might seem naive in these cynical times where all the ideals and romanticism of the early decades of rock and roll seem trite and silly, but she still believes and she'll make you believe too.

The documentary is fairly straightforward. A few occasional backstage outtakes give us glimpses behind the scenes but this is a documentary about an eight track album that inserted itself into the rock pantheon and still thrills today. "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine," is the opening line and that is not the best one on the album. There are moments in this documentarty where the electricity is palpable. It's streaming on AppleTV.


This has been a great time for music documentaries. They used to be little more than puff pieces or extended music videos really, but lately a slew of documentaries have been released from artists like Iggy Pop and Nick Cave that delve deep into the artist's life and psyche. The latest addition is Horses, a documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of Patti Smith seminal album. It's a concert film but with depth, capturing the humanity and fiery creativity of one of rock music's legendary figures. Smith has had a resurgence of late, largely through her literary offerings (Just Kids, M Train and Devotion), but her live performances are still something to behold. Shot at LA's Wiltern Theatre, this will be available on May 22nd on Apple Music and elsewhere I presume. Check out the trailer and then while tyouy are waiting for the release date, do yourself a favour and rent American Valhalla, which chronicles Iggy Pop and Josh Homme's musical collaborations.