Patti Smith & Television – We Can’t Do Anymore .. Cause I’m Just Too Tired (Back To Zero Products BTZCD-013-1/2)

We Can’t Do Anymore .. Cause I’m Just Too Tired (Back To Zero Products BTZCD-013-1/2)

Disk 1 : (76 : 53) 1st Set : Fire Engine / Judy / Poor Circulation / Breakin’ My Heart / Soldier Boy ( Foxhole ) / We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together / Redondo Beach / Birdland / Space Monkey / Distant Fingers / Gloria / 2nd Set : Venus / Marquee Moon / Little Johnny Jewel / Friction 

Disk 2 : ( 68 : 34 ) The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game / Unknown / Free Money / Piss Factory / Snowball / Land ( Horses ) / The Kids Are Alright / Be My Baby / Time Is On My Side / It’s So Hard / You Light Up My Life / My Generation / Hey Joe / Piss Factory

There can’t be many music affectionados who don’t know of the name CBGB’s. Possibly one the most popular & famous names of the New York music scene in the history of rock & in this instance, arguably, THE pivotal place to go with regards to the birth of punk – it broke the careers of many of the scenes lead players – The Jam, The Dammed, The Ramones to name but a few. Of some of these players this CD represents two of the top of their genre. Back to Zero Products have released a rather mixed CD based on various different tapes of this evening although it misses out Patti’s second set & more than a couple of songs from the two that are played – of one of the historic sets, teamed both by Television ( the first band ever to play at the club ) & Patti Smith, recorded on the 17th of April 1975.

The first set originally appeared on a CD boot entitled “Early Gig ’75” on The Element Of Crime Records (element – 032) but here both the days sets are included on the double CD. Television start their set with their still unreleased song “Fire Engine” fully reminiscent of one of the songs for Marquee Moon, their debut, featuring an atypical battle of the guitars between Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd & a somewhat ragged if not entirely structured solo in the middle. The first set will consist of quite a few songs that don’t actually feature on Marquee Moon but tend to mine the bands early demo’s – possibly somewhat mindful that those songs had only just been recorded & were not worth wasting on an early set when the record execs wouldn’t actually show up until that evenings later set. 

“Judy” follows – it’s another rhythmic, solid, strutting song beginning with a Dylanesque strum of the guitar before building up to be another jerky, rakish burner. Unfortunately Verlaines voice is somewhat distant on the tape but his affliction is always there so you can tell that it’s him but, unless you know the words, then you’ve no real chance of catching them from this recording. “Poor Circulation” features a crashing drum intro in to a marching construction of a song. The early Television sound is certainly forming now but they do sound a little more rougher & deconstructed than their later recordings. this set ends with “Soldier Boy (Foxhole)” a song that wouldn’t be released until their second album but was obviously passed over for inclusion on Marquee Moon. a raw, forceful & strident finish to a very good set. The sound picks up for Patti Smith’s set beginning with a Little Richard styled rock & roller called “We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together” it underlines Patti’s emotion & unusual spoken word style. the loose harmonies are a wonder to behold – fun & self knowing in style they’re a real joy to hear.

Redondo Beach follows Patti drawls that it’s a “Song We wrote about a place in easy reach about a beach for women that love other women” this leads in to a faster paced version of the song thats on the album but it’s very well played out. next follows Birdland Patti introduces this with “The French let Jean Jaures out of prison but the Americans left Wilhelm Reich to die in his so everyday his little son Peter would go looking for his dad & hoped that he would come down & come & get him in a big black U.F.O – O-O-O .. “. “Birdland” improvised on record at Electric ladyland studios is faithfully replicated on stage here including a brilliant mournful & weeping, Hendrixish improvised guitar line by Lenny Kaye ( Patti has mentioned that she always thought of the sprit of Jimi Hendrix looking over her as she preformed the song originally ).

“Space monkey” is introduced by Patti as a song she was asked to write for the Mets when they won the pennant & that it’s their Shea stadium song about baseball in the future then she folds, laughs & says thats “no, that’s not really what it’s all about”. After a brief band introduction “These are my guys .. ” she paraphrases a line from a Beatles song “Everybody’s got something to hide .. ” & the band launch in to a heavy Stooges sounding rocker from the Easter album. After the song ends, the tape features a brief cut & then the tape comes back in sounding 10 times better. things are a lot clearer this time round. between song chatter & lyrics can be heard word for word. “Distant Fingers” is a languid, elegant piano led song from Patti Smith’s second album Radio Ethiopia which, again, points towards Patti’s fascination with UFOs & other space machinery. “Gloria”, Patti’s version of the Them song is again quite faithful to the original with the exception of a less ringing piano chord & an ever so slightly slower pace to the chorus.

Now the sound levels have been rectified Televisions second set sounds much better than the first. Kicking off with a sharp & edgy “Venus”. Billy Ficca’s drums are more upfront this time – although it sometimes sounds like he’s playing cardboard boxes then it’s a sound that suits the song & the sound of the album is well kept by it. “Marquee Moon” the eponymous title track features screaming  improvisational guitar work throughout the song by both Verlaine & Lloyd but is held tight by the percussion  – it certainly proves that the second set was held over for being the better of the night & the one to attract more attention. As Marquee Moon reaches it’s climax the song seems to gather momentum & raises to skin tingling heights. a definitive highlight to this set. Unfortunately it can’t last & after a tape cut the band the set continues but “Little Johnny Jewel” is marred by some serious tape fluctuations which render it pretty much unlistenable. Unless you enjoy listening to Lou Reeds Metal Machine Music for fun then it would be better skipped. The tape then cuts again & comes in a shade quieter for “Friction” a straight off, thumping & exciting finish to Television’s set. 

The Second CD opens with Patti’s second set & the song “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” a Marvelettes cover rendered in a slower Jazz / Lounge style. On the tape you can hear someone clicking their fingers & exclaiming ‘sweet!’ – Patti has always been an affectionado of Jazz via her mothers love of the music. It’s a rather cool & louche take on the song. Patti name-checks the author at the end (Smokey Robinson) before launching in to a long & surreal tale leading in to her next song an unknown song to me – it features an early Rock & Roll style solo almost in the style of Hank Marvin from the Searchers & mentions Magellen – the first European to lead an expedition across the Pacific Ocean.

“Free Money” follows after another cut in the tape but the quality has decreased again & the tape is a little more murky sounding – it’s a shame as this would have been another highlight to the tape had it have been of a better fidelity but as it is it’s just merely very good. from the same segment of tape comes “Piss Factory” Patti’s spoken word, piano led rage against the job that she once undertook – this song is performed as Lenny has broken a string – hopefully it would have been part of the set anyway but it’s possibly pushed forward because of this. Again, had the tape have been a cleaner one then this would have been quite an exhilarating song but as it is it loses something for being a little sludgy in sound.

After a brief tune up while strings are plucked then Patti introduces “Snowball” via way of a monologue. The song itself, an urgent, chugging, spoken & sung driver is a rather more pleasing tune when played under these conditions as it’s not too familiar so loses nothing too serious in translation. “Land (Horses)” is the track that will close the night. Patti leads this in with another monologue about poetry that slips quietly in to “Land” – sounding a lot like her version of “Gloria” it spirals round & round soundwise until it slows down in to a dreamlike amble with haunting guitar work puncturing the beauty. This spans out a couple of minutes longer than the C.V. & once the song has finished Patti thanks the audience & leaves them with a long & gratuitous thank you. 

The CD is padded out with a bunch of covers sung By Patti & Band from the Civic Center, Santa Monica on the 12th May 1978 – they’re all sourced from crackly vinyl so as good as they are then the scratches & scuffs from the original bootleg are off putting & would be better being sourced form somewhere else. 

The final two tracks are from the original debut single – again vinyl but not as noisy as the other bootlegged track. One presumes that if you are a fan of Patti Smith then you’ll have this record already but if you don’t own a record player or can’t find a cleaner version out there then this a good one stop shop for it. 

Altogether a good collection of other random bootlegs under an attractive cover & intelligently placed all around the same era. Not just one for the collector but good for the novice too.     

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  1. No problem, Stuart. Yeah, I had owned Party (which isn’t a particularly strong album) for a number of years when I picked up the Free Music Store boot lp and that’s where I first heard ‘Snowball’ and immediately recognized the music w/ different lyrics. Of course, the common link is Ivan Kral, who also worked on Party w/ Iggy.

  2. Thanks Jerry! i should have known that really but the Iggy Pop reference was new to me ( i love his early work but haven’t investigated the Party album or much of the stuff beyond “Lust For Life” to be honest. )
    thanks for your input & the kind words.

  3. Nice review, Stuart. With regard to a couple of the songs you mentioned, ‘Fire Engine’ is a 13th Floor Elevators cover and ‘We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together’ is a Velvet Underground cover. ‘Snowball’, a co-write w/ Ivan Kral, was later given different lyrics by Iggy Pop and released on his Party album as ‘Eggs on Plate’.


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