Eleventh studio album by American rock musician Patti Smith by Columbia Records. The album includes a number of guest muscians including Tom Verlaine of Television, Jack Petruzzelli and Smith's own children, Jackson and Jesse Paris.
Columbia Records / 88697222172 / CD
Patti Smith - Banga  [Album]
MP3 / V0 (VBR) / Scene
Recorded throughout 2011 at New York's Electric Lady Studios, Banga was produced by Smith, Tony Shanahan, Jay Dee Daugherty and collaborator Lenny Kaye.
This Is the Girl
Tarkovsky (The Second Stop Is Jupiter)
After the Gold Rush
In the eight years since Patti Smith's last studio effort, Trampin', she's toured the world, done art installations, traveled with Jean-Luc Godard for a film project, had her photographs assembled for a global exhibition, and wrote Just Kids, a memoir that won the 2010 National Book Award for non-fiction. On Banga, Smith does what she has from the very beginning: marries together her various forms of literary expression with rock in an iconic assemblage. Her collaborators are (mostly) familiar; they include guitarist Lenny Kaye, drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, bassist Tony Shanahan, guitarist Tom Verlaine, her children Jackson and Jessi, and guitarist Jack Petruzzelli, with help from Italian band Casa del Vento and Johnny Depp. The album is a mix of rock and pop songs, saturated with poetry, sung or spoken -- sometimes both. Its themes range from a non-didactic reflection on environmental crisis, the dominion of art as man's greatest gift to the divine -- as well as its own species -- homages, elegies, and love songs, all offered with authority and tenderness. The album is absent the dynamic chaos that marks so many moments on her earlier recordings, but is better for it. This is true even when the band stretches its melody to improvise forcefully on a theme by Sun Ra in the glorious "Tarkovsky (The Second Stop Is Jupiter)." This is not to say that Banga doesn't rock; it does, in the aforementioned cut, the dramatic, provocative "Fuji-San," and the title track (which immortalizes in song Pilate's dog from Mikhail Bulgakov's masterpiece Master and Margarita). And then there are the pop songs: the hooky "April's Fool" (a love song about nomadic lovers that echoes the themes in Just Kids), the sweet, vulnerable ballad "This Is the Girl," a memorial for Amy Winehouse, and the elegant waltz "Maria" (for the late actress Maria Schneider). "Mosaic," driven by Daugherty's mandocello riff, is a lush, sensual rocker that counters the blind loyalty, rebellion, and betrayal in the album's title cut. "Amerigo" melds poetry and pop with a lilting backdrop of strings to explore Amerigo Vespucci's vision of his discovery of the New World with one that Smith observes as having perhaps changed his life: after he encountered the indigenous people, his colonial vision was turned inside-out. "Constantine's Dream," at over ten minutes, offers a feverish exploration of painter Pierro Della Francesca and his painting (the title of the cut), a dream she had of Saint Francis weeping at the current state of the environment, and the ecstatic vision of Columbus as he saw the New World for the first time -- tempered by a seemingly apocalyptic 21st century. Smith's poetic skill -- she improvised the lyrics on the spot while recording -- is astonishing -- pulls it all together with a visionary grasp of social and spiritual context. The set closes with a delicate, reverent, and melancholy cover of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush," underscoring the previous tune's feverish delivery yet containing the same meaning. Banga is an event; it's not only provocative and expansive lyrically, but abundantly enjoyable musically. It reveals in spades the true vocation of the artist. Smith completely absorbs everything she encounters, then gives it back in a manner that edifies the culture at large.
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