Horses is the debut studio album by American musician Patti Smith, released on December 13, 1975 on Arista Records. The record was a key factor and major influence on the New York punk rock scene.
At the time she recorded Horses, Patti Smith and her band were favorites in the New York club scene along with Blondie and The Ramones. The former's influence can be best heard in the track "Gloria", a radical retake on the Them song. "Birdland", in particular, owed more to jazz, which Smith's mother enjoyed, than to the influence of punk. When recording this song, which was improvised by the band in Electric Lady Studios, Smith has said she imagined the spirit of Jimi Hendrix watching her. The lyrics of "Birdland" are based upon A Book of Dreams, a 1973 memoir of Wilhelm Reich by his son Peter. Several of the album's songs â" "Redondo Beach", "Free Money", "Kimberly" â" were inspired by moments with members of Smith's family, while others â" "Break It Up", "Elegie" â" were written about her idols. "Land" was already a live favorite and featured the first verse of Chris Kenner's "Land of a Thousand Dances" and contains a tribute to her long-time idol Arthur Rimbaud." Guest musicians included Tom Verlaine of Television and Allen Lanier of Blue Ãyster Cult.
Reception and influence
Horses is often cited as one of the greatest albums in music history. In 2003, the album was ranked number 44 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. NME named the album number 1 in its list "20 Near-as-Damn-It Perfect Initial Efforts". According to a list released by Time magazine in 2006, Horses is one of the All-Time 100 Greatest Albums and three years later, it was preserved by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry, calling it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Smith has been called an early pioneer of punk rock. AllMusic's William Ruhlman said that it "isn't hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on Horses" while David Antrobus from PopMatters chose Horses as his favorite album and considered it a life-changing classic. Siouxsie and the Banshees have said that "Carcass", one of the first songs from The Scream, was inspired by Horses. Michael Stipe bought the album as a high school student and says it "tore my limbs off and put them back on in a whole different order." Morrissey and Johnny Marr shared an appreciation for the record, and one of their early compositions for The Smiths, "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle", is a reworking of "Kimberly". Courtney Love has stated that this album helped inspire her to become a rock musician. The Libertines' song "The Boy Looked at Johnny" is named after the line in the title track of the album. In 1977, Sammy Hagar released a cover of "Free Money" on his self-titled second album.
In 1998, the Millennium episode "The Time Is Now" used the song "Land" in a bizarre "music video" sequence depicting a character's descent into madness.
The cover photo was taken by Robert Mapplethorpe using natural light in a penthouse in Greenwich Village. The triangle of light on the wall (too blurry to discern as a geometric figure on the above low resolution image) was the product of the afternoon sun. The record company wanted to make various changes to the photo, but Smith overruled such attempts. Smith has described the pose as "a mix of (French poet Charles) Baudelaire and (Frank) Sinatra." The black and white treatment and unisex pose was a departure from the typical promotional images of "girl singers" of the time, but Smith maintains that she "wasn't making a big statement. That's just the way I dressed."
Writer Camille Paglia described the album's cover as "one of the greatest pictures ever taken of a woman."
The jacket Smith has wrapped around her shoulder has a pin in the shape of a horse.
- Side one
- Side two
- CD bonus track (1976-01-26th Live; the Agora, Cleveland, Ohio)
- Patti SmithÂ â" vocals, guitar
- Jay Dee DaughertyÂ â" drums, consultant
- Lenny KayeÂ â" guitar, bass guitar, vocals
- Ivan KralÂ â" bass guitar, guitar, vocals
- Richard SohlÂ â" keyboards
- Additional personnel
- John Cale â" producer
- Richard AaronÂ â" photography
- Vic AnesiniÂ â" mastering
- Edie BaskinÂ â" photography
- Frank d'AugustaÂ â" assistant engineer
- Danny FieldsÂ â" photography
- Bob GruenÂ â" photography
- Bob HeimallÂ â" design
- Bob IrwinÂ â" mastering
- Bernie KirshÂ â" engineering, mastering
- Chuck KrallÂ â" photography
- Allen LanierÂ â" production for one tune, guitar, keyboards
- Bob LudwigÂ â" mastering
- Robert MapplethorpeÂ â" photography
- Tom VerlaineÂ â" guitar
- Sherri WhitmarshÂ â" design
30th anniversary edition
For the 30th anniversary of the original album, a live version was recorded on June 25, 2005 in the Royal Festival Hall at the Meltdown festival, which Smith curated. It followed the same running order as the original release of Horses, and featured Tom Verlaine on guitar and Flea on bass guitar. The live set was released November 8, 2005 as the second disc of a double CD titled Horses/Horses, with the digitally remastered version of the original 1975 album (with the bonus track "My Generation") on the first disc. The album was recorded and mixed by Emery Dobyns.
- "Gloria: In Excelsis Deo / Gloria (version)"Â â"7:01
- "Redondo Beach"Â â" 4:29
- "Birdland"Â â" 9:52
- "Free Money"Â â" 5:29
- "Kimberly"Â â" 5:28
- "Break It Up"Â â" 5:24
- "Land: Horses / Land of a Thousand Dances / La Mer(de)"Â â" 17:35
- "Elegie"Â â" 5:08
- "My Generation"Â â" 6:59
- Shaw, Philip (2008-04-15). Horses. 33â ". Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBNÂ 0-8264-2792-8.Â
- Horses at AllMusic
- 2014 Interview with Patti Smith in the Carroll County Times