Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Patti Smith: Horses [Arista, 1975]
I don't feel much intelligent sympathy for Smith's apocalyptic romanticism. Her ideas are as irrelevant to any social apocalypse I can envision as they are to my present as a well-adjusted, well-rewarded media professional. But Smith (in this manifestation) is a musician, not a philosopher. Music is different. The fact that I'm fairly obsessive about rock and roll indicates that on some sub-intellectual level I need a little apocalypse, just to keep my superego honest. That, of course, is exactly what she's trying to tell us. However questionable her apprehension of the surreal, the way she connects it with the youth cult/rock and roll nexus is revelation enough for now. This record loses her humor, but it gets the minimalist fury of her band and the revolutionary dimension of her singing just fine, and I haven't turned off any of the long arty cuts yet. A