Since the release of her memoir, Just Kids, Patti Smith has become more influential than ever to a younger generation of music fans. This compilation captures her most popular singles while gleaning the highlights of a career that has flourished after more than three decades.
Outside Society is a comprehensive, accomplished introduction to Smith’s work. From the erratic delivery that gave her the moniker “The Godmother of Punk” to the poetic calm of her later work, it’s all brought together in such a way that the audience gets a sense of Smith’s depth as an artist and as a person.
The punk side of Smith is captured in the deliciously spontaneous cover of Them’s “Gloria” and the frenetic “Rock’n’Roll Nigger.” While her cover of Springsteen’s “Because the Night” helped propel Smith to superstardom, she has crafted so many other anthems that appear on this record, such as “People Have the Power.”
Make no mistake though: Smith is not just looking back in her career’s twilight. “Glitter in Their Eyes,” featuring backing vocals by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, is among her most political songs, but is also damn catchy. Her acoustic cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” introduces a new frailty to the vulnerable lyrics, and “Trampin’” is haunting in its simplicity. Outside Society offers nothing new to the Smith completist, but if new fans want to find more of her material, this is the place to start.