Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Patti Smith: Land [Arista, 2002]
Tacky though the best-of-plus-outtakes gambit may be, especially with another best-of filling out the box set, this is the same artist who's never released a concert album, not even as a profit taker when her income dried up during her seclusion. And though she's scattered live cuts here and there, the five-track sequence on disc two, dominated by post-1996 material that's never sounded better and capped by the inexhaustible "Birdland," is a welcome taste of the real live one she can put together next with no complaint from me. She recites a Blake poem, a Ginsberg poem, a Prince poem. She blows clarinet. She sings "Tomorrow" for her mom. And by the way, the best-of never quits. A-