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May 12, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-05-12

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Page 6--Saturday, May 12, 1979--The Michigan Daily

Patti on wax not quite up to par
By R. J. SMITH Smith could safely be trashed along interesting contradictions in the Village tity from all of it-the money and the
iave always thought Patti Smith's with such diverse and failing attempts People's work as in the average Segal managers and the "girls who will tear
fiction that rock and roll will at a rock-art marriage as the output of plaster cast or Warhol silkscreen. you apart"-and accepts it, reveling in
im art within a few ears to be Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, it shamelessly.


radically backwards; i.e., artists are
now responding more and more to the
impulsiveness and playfulness of rock.
What rock and roll lover would rush to
the radio to listen to a song about. the
symbolist poet Arthur Rimbad, or
would buy an album whose packaging
dropped the names of such rockers as
Jean Genet, Modigland, Jean-Luc God-
dard, and William Burroughs as do
Smith's "Easter", and Wave?
If such intellectual references were
all that she had going for her, Patti

Leonard Cohen, and much of David
Bowie's music. To me, there's more
"art" in the Village People's "In the
Navy" than there is in any number of
esoteric allusions, multi-trackings, or
way-above-it-all poses. There's as
much spunk in any of the Village
People's hits as can be found in most
anything on the radio within the last
year. Songs like "Macho Man,"
"Navy," or "YMCA" invite
examination of self, the group, and the
rai-fe "~ nit r"""T" "" a" ac'"a"v

YET IT IS impossible to dismiss Patti
Smith. Those allusions to French sym-
bolists and underground filmmakers
shouldn't be held against her; they
aren't so much a shallow posturing asa
momentary loss of heart, a temporary
flight to safety that briefly obscures the
overall guts and brilliance of much of
her music.
Smith is an artist; one gifted, fur-
thermore, with a Whitmanian sense of
omnivorous oneness with the whole
celestial croquet game. The specific
concerns of her art are, of course, with
the oppression and confines of life on
the street.
On Wave, Smith sounds as if her
struggles for mystic transcendence
(and for stardom) have been won. Her
passive, possessed singing on "Dancing

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