Outside Society

This best-of compilation cleaves Patti Smith's career into two halves: nine songs from her 1970s years as a firebrand-New-York-City-poet-turned-punk-rock-high-priestess, nine from her post-1988 comeback. A perfect primer for those who've discovered her through her recent National Book Award-winning memoir, it flows better than 2002's double-disc anthology, Land. It also does a better job contextualizing her later stuff as personal and pop-culture history: The mortality meditation "Beneath the Southern Cross" and the ragged string-band cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" stand with her greatest moments.

Listen to "Gloria":

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From The Archives Issue 1138: September 1, 2011