So it is entirely predictable that
homage is here paid to Hendrix, Dylan, The Beatles,
The Stones and Neil Young. Smith never really bought
into the initial ‘year zero’ philosophy
of The Clash, prevalent in her punk heyday. Though some
of the readings appear over-reverential, to the point
of being anodyne, ‘Gimme Shelter’ smokes,
and the choice of less than obvious inclusions from
the oeuvre of major artists – George
Harrison’s ‘Within You, Without You’
(‘the forgotten song of Sgt. Pepper’s’,
according to the sleeve notes) and Dylan’s ‘Changing
of the Guard’ from Street Legal, for
personal reasons – are interestingly revealing.
Odder is the presence of Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody
Wants To Rule The World’, apparently selected
because Smith does not consider a facility for succinct
soundbyte titles to be one of her gifts. But the standout
is the front porch, roots version of Nirvana’s
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, bringing out
Kobain’s debt to Leadbelly, and featuring one
of Smith’s extended poetic interludes.
Cherish this record, made by the fan’s fan.
First published in Magill, June 2007