Very few cover albums really work. Where it is common for an act to include a cover on an album or on a single, few individuals have the chops to really come out with an album that is just covers. While a person like Tori Amos creates beautiful original tracks, eir foray into a cover album (“Strange Little Girls”), ultimately ended in disappointment.
Patti Smith is an individual that has been positively affecting the alternative music scene for well over thirty years, going all the way back to eir 1975 album, “Horses”. So will Patti Smith be able to make this album, with covers of Nirvana, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and Rolling Stones songs, work? Ultimately, the answer is yes. The oproof is in the ppudding during tracks like eir cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. While this version is slower throughout than the original, there is enough distance between it and the original to merit a listen. Cover artists (or artists doing a cover song or album) run the risk all the time of coming up with a track that seems uninspired and floats to close to the original. Patti Smith does not do this during any of the tracks on “Twelve”, and that is why the album succeeds in ways that “Strange Little Girls” did not. The most interesting of the tracks on “Twelve” has to be eir cover of the Tears for Fears classic “Everybody Wants To Rule the World”.
The track resides much more closely to the original than did the cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, but Smith does not fall into a rut because ey includes enough of a twist to keep it interesting. All but the most knowledgeable of people will know all the songs on the disc; I must admit, I had not heard the Allman Brothers song (“Midnight Rider”), and was only slightly familiar with the Beatles (“Within You Without You”) and Stevie Wonder (“Pastime Paradise”) tracks. With “Twelve”, Smith has calmed down the masses of fans that are eagerly awaiting new material; the disc takes a number of tracks throughout the history of rock and imbues them with Smith’s own soulful, alternative sound while still having hints of the originals present. Give this disc a go if you are a fan of Smith, like different versions of classics, or just want to hear an interesting blend of styles of influences that are moderated by the talent present in Smith.
Top Tracks: Smells Like Teen Spirit, White Rabbit