Release Date: Apr 24, 2007
Record label: Sony
Perhaps no tune moves here like Smith's reading of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," with help from Sam Shepherd and John Cohen on banjo, Peter Stampfel on fiddle, and Kaye and Duncan Webster on guitar in a strange dreamscape driven by a standup bass. Smith digs into the lyric and then offers a poem that is as much an early American folk song elegy to the environment Kurt Cobain grew up in as it is to what's happening to America itself, but with current touches. Her poet's heart not only complements the original but makes the song timeless and brings Cobain's mature spirit to flesh once more.
Review Summary: Patti Smith mellows out in her now sixty years and takes a stab at the past on Twelve. Not what you might think, this is straight from the heart of all things Patti and company once rallied against. And its not half bad.Cover albums by their very nature are often times dismal, sorted affairs at worst and novel points of interest at most, often best left to hardcore fans of those doing the covering are non fans looking for something new from an artist in the past not much cared for.
Patti Smith began her career with cover versions. They were, paradoxically, how she proved her originality: she didn't just perform her favourite songs (Hey Joe, Gloria, Land of 1,000 Dances), but also expanded them in ways that were simultaneously carnal and cerebral. So this album of classic-rock covers is a return to her roots, if not an especially fruitful one.
Patti Smith, like the Rolling Stones, always valued a good cover. Her fabled first LP, 1975's Horses, sported the reinvisioned "Gloria," and "When Doves Cry" on her 2002 compilation, Land, didn't back down either. Yet Smith will catch shit for this safe collection of true-to-original renderings, and in most cases, she deserves it. It's not a particularly dazzling array of songs, and she seldom veers from form (Dylan's "Changing of the Guards," Neil Young's "Helpless").