Easter (Patti Smith Group album)

Easter is the third studio album by the Patti Smith Group. It was released in March 1978 by Arista Records. Produced by Jimmy Iovine, the album is regarded as the group's commercial breakthrough, owing to the success of the single "Because the Night" (co-written by Bruce Springsteen and Smith), which reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100[1] and number five on the UK Singles Chart.[2]

Easter cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 3, 1978 (1978-03-03)
RecordedAugust 1977
ProducerJimmy Iovine
Patti Smith Group chronology
Radio Ethiopia
Singles from Easter
  1. "Because the Night"
    Released: 1978
  2. "Privilege (Set Me Free)"
    Released: 1978


The first album released since Smith had suffered a neck injury while touring for Radio Ethiopia, Easter has been called the most commercially accessible of the Patti Smith Group's catalogue. Unlike its two predecessors, Easter incorporated a diversity of musical styles, though still including classic rock and roll ("25th Floor/High on Rebellion", "Rock N Roll Nigger"), folk ("Ghost Dance"[3][4][5]), spoken word ("Babelogue") and pop music ("Because the Night"). Easter is the only 1970s album of Smith's that does not feature Richard Sohl as part of the Patti Smith Group; in one interview at the time, Smith stated that Sohl was sick and this prevented him from participating in recording the album. Bruce Brody is credited as the keyboard player, though Sohl makes a guest appearance contributing keyboards to "Space Monkey", along with Blue Öyster Cult keyboardist Allen Lanier. The cover photograph is by Lynn Goldsmith and the liner notes photography by Cindy Black and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Religious imageryEdit

In addition to the religious allusion of its title, the album is replete with biblical and specifically Christian imagery. "Privilege (Set Me Free)" is taken from the British fame- and authoritarianism-satirizing film Privilege; its lyrics are adapted from Psalm 23. The LP insert reproduces a First Communion portrait of Frederic and Arthur Rimbaud, and Smith's notes for the song "Easter" invoke Catholic imagery of baptism, communion and the blood of Christ. A solitary hand-drawn cross is placed below the group member credits on the sleeve insert, and the last sentence of the liner notes is a quote from Second Epistle to Timothy 4:7 -- "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course ..."

Beyond Christian themes, the song "Ghost Dance" references the Ghost Dance Native American religious revival of the late 19th century.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [6]
Chicago Tribune    [7]
Christgau's Record GuideA−[8]
Los Angeles Times    [9]
Q     [11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [12]
Sounds     [13]
Spin     [14]
Spin Alternative Record Guide6/10[15]

Easter was highly acclaimed upon its release. Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh called the album "transcendent and fulfilled".[16] In Creem, Nick Tosches deemed Easter to be Smith's best work, "truer and surer and less uneven than her previous albums".[17] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice felt that the music "is as basic as ever in its instrumentation and rhythmic thrust, but grander, more martial", and that "most of these songs are rousing in the way they're meant to be."[18] Lester Bangs, however, began his review of the album in Phonograph Record, "Dear Patti, start the revolution without me", and contended that while Horses had changed his life, Easter "is just a very good album."[19] Easter placed at number 14 in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll of the best albums of 1978,[20] while NME ranked it the 46th best album of the year.[21]

Track listingEdit

Side one
1."Till Victory"2:45
2."Space Monkey"4:04
3."Because the Night"3:32
4."Ghost Dance"
  • Smith
  • Kaye
6."Rock N Roll Nigger"
  • Smith
  • Kaye
Side two
7."Privilege (Set Me Free)"3:27
8."We Three"Smith4:19
9."25th Floor"
  • Smith
  • Král
10."High on Rebellion"Smith2:37
1996 CD reissue bonus track
  • Smith
  • Král


Patti Smith Group

Additional personnel

  • Richard Sohl – keyboards on "Space Monkey"
  • Allen Lanier – keyboards on "Space Monkey"
  • John Paul Fetta – bass guitar on "Till Victory" and "Privilege"
  • Andi Ostrowe – percussion on "Ghost Dance"
  • Jim Maxwell – bagpipes on "Easter"
  • Tom Verlainearrangement on "We Three" (in 1974)
  • Todd Smith – head of crew



Liner notesEdit

In the insert with the original LP release (reproduced in the 1996 reissue), Smith's self-penned liner notes refer, among other things, to:


Chart (1978) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[22] 80
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[23] 43
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[24] 20
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[25] 10
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[26] 34
UK Albums (OCC)[27] 16
US Billboard 200[28] 20
Chart (2019) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[29] 194

Certifications and salesEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[31] Gold 204,900[30]
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Silver 60,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release historyEdit

Date Label Format Catalog no.
March 1978 Arista Records LP 4171
1996 CD
2007 Sony BMG 37929
2008 "Original Album Classics" CD box set 88697313832


  1. ^ "Easter > Chart & Awards – Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  2. ^ "UK Album Charts". Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  3. ^ Wendell, Eric (2014). Patti Smith: America's Punk Rock Rhapsodist, p.54. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780810886919. "The 'Ghost Dance' in question may refer to the Native American practice, a holy tradition meant to reunite the living with the spirits of the departed."
  4. ^ Johnstone, Nick (2012). Patti Smith: A Biography, unpaginated. Omnibus. ISBN 9780857127785. "The title referred to the Native American Indian ritual of the ghost dance...This was another song about different modes of communicating with God and parallel planes of existence."
  5. ^ Dethier, Brock (2003). From Dylan to Donne: Bridging English and Music, p.38. Boynton/Cook. ISBN 9780867095326. "Patti Smith's 'Ghost Dance', for instance, can spark discussions of cultural appropriation, treatment of the sacred, and of course the genocide of Native Americans."
  6. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Easter – Patti Smith Group / Patti Smith". AllMusic. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (June 17, 1996). "Back For More". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  9. ^ Hilburn, Robert (October 7, 1988). "CD Corner". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ Rose, Caryn (May 28, 2017). "Patti Smith Group: Easter". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  11. ^ "Patti Smith Group: Easter". Q. No. 122. November 1996. p. 154.
  12. ^ Abowitz, Richard (2004). "Patti Smith". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 751–52. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  13. ^ Robertson, Sandy (March 4, 1978). "Patti Smith: Easter (Arista)". Sounds. Retrieved October 23, 2020 – via Rock's Backpages.
  14. ^ Marchese, David (September 2008). "Discography: Patti Smith". Spin. Vol. 24 no. 9. p. 108. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  15. ^ Sheffield, Rob (1995). "Patti Smith". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. p. 363. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  16. ^ Marsh, Dave (April 20, 1978). "Patti Smith: Easter". Rolling Stone. No. 263. Archived from the original on December 9, 2007. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  17. ^ Tosches, Nick (June 1978). "Patti Smith Group: Easter". Creem. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 24, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  19. ^ Bangs, Lester (May 1978). "Patti Smith's Top 40 Insurrection". Phonograph Record. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  20. ^ "The 1978 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. January 22, 1979. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  21. ^ "Easter". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  22. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). Australian Chart Book. p. 278. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  23. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Patti Smith Group – Easter" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  24. ^ "Charts.nz – Patti Smith Group – Easter". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  25. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Patti Smith Group – Easter". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  26. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Patti Smith Group – Easter". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  27. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  28. ^ "Patti Smith Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  29. ^ "Ultratop.be – Patti Smith Group – Easter" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  30. ^ "Les Albums Or" (in French). InfoDisc. Archived from the original on November 18, 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  31. ^ "French album certifications – Patti Smith Group – Easter" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved October 23, 2020. Select PATTI SMITH GROUP and click OK. 
  32. ^ "British album certifications – Patti Smith Group – Easter". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved October 23, 2020. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Easter in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External linksEdit