Horses: 30th Anniversary Edition

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” remains a startling opening line for a debut album, deliberately announcing someone who sees her role not to be a pop star and hit-maker, but to shake whatever complacent vibe might be lingering in the room. Smith would never top her debut album. She’d certainly have her moments, but as for fulfilling her grandiose artistic pretensions, only Horses, with its drastic reworkings of Van Morrison’s “Gloria” and Wilson Pickett’s “Land of a 1,000 Dances” ever swung the beat just right between her hero worship obsessions and her own overriding sense of self-importance. This 30th anniversary edition skimps on extras (though the 32-page booklet is eye-popping, and includes three essays and rare photos). There’s but one studio outtake, a 1975 “Gloria,” b-side take of the Who’s “My Generation” with album producer, John Cale, on bass. The additional disc, a 2005 European live re-creation of the entire debut album with original guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty being joined by bassist Tony Shanahan, Television’s Tom Verlaine and Chili Pepper Flea (?), is competent, but hardly revelatory. Horses was about time and place, a collective energy that sparked the creative transition of the punk era. Thirty years later, it feels like a time capsule.

Rob O'Connor writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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