Gung Ho (2000)
So Intense, It’s Hard Not To Listen
In the mid 90s, Patti Smith’s music developed an introspective calm, following the deaths of numerous family members, personal friends and artistic colleagues. But all that changed in 2000, with the release of the hard charging, socially conscious Gung Ho. Smith’s Group, made up of mostly original members, developed a fluid savvy in the studio, infusing these coiled rhythms with an urgent intensity, even in the quieter moments. I remember my first hearing, thinking (as a non-fan) that it was a well-oiled, live-in-the-studio group performance. Until “Strange Messengers.” In it, Smith charts the enslavement of the black race, but half way into this gritty, modern day “Strange Fruit,” her rant morphs into a berating diatribe, chastising the modern African-American community for disrespecting the lives of their ancestors through crack use. Whoa! No bullshit liberal coddling here. This was angry, meaningful expression. And, while Smith is known for this kind of incendiary messaging, this was the first time she conceptually woke me up. Since then, I’ve been a convert, more to her post-2000 work than past efforts, but this is the album that finally made me sit up and take notice.
Lo and Beholden
Boy Cried Wolf
Glitter In Their Eyes