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Patti Smith 

Banga (Columbia)

For some, the rap on Patti Smith has been that she avoids singing melodically to remind people she’s a poet. The surprise on Banga is how well she combines singing and reciting and how snappy the pop element is. Old CBGB’s colleague Tom Verlaine (Television) pitches in with loyal Lenny Kaye to weave guitar magic on “April Fools” and “Nine.” “Amerigo” feels like the sea voyage that inspired it, channelling dreams of the explorers. Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” is made more poignant by children joining Smith on vocals. The album is long enough to fit a cinematic spoken track or two alongside substantive music.
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