Patti Smith

You Light up My Life

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Most of the Patti Smith bootlegs come from around 1976, during her first significant touring after the release of her debut album, Horses, in the fall of 1975. This one is notable as a chronicle of the spring 1978 tour promoting her third album, Easter. Here, appearing on May 12, 1978, at the Santa Monica Civic Center, Smith is a more polished, less-spontaneous performer, and a more ambivalent one. The LP's second side is given over to a selection of Easter songs -- "Rock n Roll Nigger," "Till Victory," "Space Monkey," "25th Floor," and "Because the Night" -- but the first side is more interesting. It consists entirely of cover songs, performed by Smith in her inimitable style. After playing the Who's "The Kids Are Alright" and the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," Smith introduces "Time Is on My Side" by reciting a brief bit of her own verse: "Memory is just hips that swing like a clock/ Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock/F*ck the clock!" The Who's "My Generation," meanwhile, gets new lyrics: "I don't need that f*cking shit/Hope I die because of it." After a surprise cover of John Lennon's "It's So Hard" comes an even more surprising choice from a woman who was just then experiencing her first and only singles hit. "Hi, we're a Top 40 band, we're the Patti Smith Group," Smith says. "We'd like to do a little Top 40 for you." And with that, she takes on Debbie Boone, doing a verse and chorus of "You Light up My Life." Her mixed feelings about commercial success couldn't be better expressed. This bootleg has only average sound, but it is one of the weirdest sets in the Patti Smith catalog.