New York’s downtown godmother and a gang of ace sidemen cover a dozen songs: eleven by rock titans such as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon, and one by Tears for Fears.
TINA: Smith’s singular voice elevates this set from cover tunes to canon, with the notable exception of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which gets dragged down by the gravity of her delivery and ends up sounding like humorless karaoke.
Best Track: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
FRED: I saw Patti Smith sing a couple of covers at this year’s Tibet House concert—she certainly has a way with other people’s songs. That said, I’m not sold on this record. Her version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” starts out the record on its low point; the peak is Bob Dylan’s brilliant “Changing of the Guards.” It’s hit or miss—listen to the songs online and buy the ones you like on iTunes.
Best Track: “Changing of the Guards”
MELISSA: A one-woman circus that very nearly hits its lofty mark—check out the alarmingly lovely “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which goes from sparse rural plucking to urgent fiddle symphony in six minutes, and the odd play on Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise.” Still, I could have done without the spoken-word rants and spliced-in lyrics of the America’s-sick-children/ban-nuclear-war! variety.
Best Track: “Are You Experienced?”