Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 16, 2005
It took almost five years from the death of Janis Joplin for another female music superstar to be born. Patti Smith wasn't a supernova like Joplin, not at first, but her 1975 deconstruction of Van Morrison's "Gloria" stands as one of the most brilliant acts of revolution in rock & roll. A classic Sixties garage rocker, the song was dirty in 1965, dirtier when Smith revived it in 1975, and dirtiest in 2005. And if it wasn't "Gloria," it was the equally revolutionary "Land," with Smith's nasal challenge, "Do ya know how ta Pony, like Boney Maronie?" Horses carried more mojo with it than anything recorded by the Sex Pistols, the other band to break the status quo. And Horses was artful: Saint Patti of the skinny black tie and pipe-cleaner legs on the cover, daring eyes trained on Robert Mapplethorpe's camera lens, now and forever. Artful in a way that only the pristine production by John Cale could achieve. So why this 30th anniversary Legacy Edition, replete with the entire album performed live on a second disc? Because more than a quarter-century later, Horses gallops with a thunder undiminished by time. "Gloria," "Birdland," "Redondo Beach," "Break It Up," "Elegie," "Free Money," "Kimberly," the bonus track "My Generation," and the album's other crowning achievement, "Land," still glower furiously. It was as earth-shattering then as now, and every alt-rock group with a woman in the band, bar none, owes a debt to Patti Smith. Sing it with me one more time, children: G-L-O-R-I-A. In excelsis Deo.