Easter (Patti Smith Group album)

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Easter cover.jpg
Studio album by Patti Smith Group
Released March 3, 1978 (1978-03-03)
Recorded 1977 (1977)
Studio Record Plant, New York City;
House of Music, West Orange, New Jersey
Genre Punk rock, new wave
Length 39:44
Label Arista
Producer Jimmy Iovine
Patti Smith Group chronology
Radio Ethiopia
(1976)Radio Ethiopia1976
Singles from Easter
  1. "Because the Night"
    Released: 1978
  2. "Privilege (Set Me Free)"
    Released: 1978

Easter is the third studio album by the Patti Smith Group, released in March 1978 on Arista Records (see 1978 in music). Produced by Jimmy Iovine, it 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 #13 on the Billboard Hot 100[1] and #5 in the UK.[2]


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"), 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, Richard 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 liner notes photography by Cindy Black and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Religious imagery[edit]

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 ..."


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[4]
Pitchfork 8.8/10[5]
Q 4/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[7]
Spin 4.5/5 stars[8]
The Village Voice A−[9]

Easter was highly acclaimed upon its release. Writing in Rolling Stone, Dave Marsh called the album "transcendent and fulfilled."[10] In Creem, Nick Tosches described it as "an album of Christian obsessions, especially those of death and resurrection", and called it Smith's "best work."[11] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice wrote that "the miracle is that most of these songs are rousing in the way they're meant to be."[9] Lester Bangs, on the other hand, began his review of the album, "Dear Patti, start the revolution without me", and contended that while Horses had changed his life, Easter "is just a very good album."[12] Easter ranked at number 14 in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll of the best albums of 1978,[13] while NME magazine ranked the album 46th best of the year.[14]

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Till Victory" Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye 2:45
2. "Space Monkey" Smith, Ivan Kral, Tom Verlaine 4:04
3. "Because the Night" Smith, Bruce Springsteen 3:32
4. "Ghost Dance" Smith, Kaye 4:40
5. "Babelogue" Smith 1:25
6. "Rock N Roll Nigger" Smith, Kaye 3:13

Side two[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Privilege (Set Me Free)" Mel London, Mike Leander, Psalm 23 3:27
8. "We Three" Smith 4:19
9. "25th Floor" Smith, Kral 4:01
10. "High on Rebellion" Smith 2:37
11. "Easter" Smith, Jay Dee Daugherty 6:15

Bonus track (CD reissue in 1996 Arista Records, Inc)[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
12. "Godspeed" Smith, Kral 6:09


Patti Smith Group
Additional personnel
  • Jimmy Iovine - producer
  • Richard Sohl – keyboards on "Space Monkey"
  • Allen Lanier – keyboards on "Space Monkey"
  • John Paul Fetta – bass on "Till Victory" & "Privilege"
  • Andi Ostrowe – percussion on "Ghost Dance"
  • Jim Maxwell – bagpipes on "Easter"
  • Tom Verlaine - arrangement on "We Three" (in 1974)
  • Todd Smith – head of crew
Technical personnel
Design personnel

Liner notes[edit]

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


Year Chart Peak
1978 Norway[15] 10
Sweden[15] 34
UK Albums Chart[2] 16
Billboard Pop Albums[16] 20

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
France (SNEP)[17] Gold 204,900[18]
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Silver 60,000^

Release history[edit]

Date Label Format Catalog
March 1978 Arista Records LP 4171
1996 Arista Records CD
2007 Sony BMG CD 37929


The cover photograph of Smith is represented in the cover artwork of Green Day's 1994 album Dookie.


  1. ^ "Easter > Chart & Awards – Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  2. ^ a b "UK Album Charts". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  3. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Easter – Patti Smith Group / Patti Smith". AllMusic. Retrieved October 15, 2015. 
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (June 17, 1996). "Back For More". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 12, 2016. 
  5. ^ Rose, Caryn (May 28, 2017). "Patti Smith Group: Easter". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 28, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Patti Smith: Easter". Q (122): 154. November 1996. 
  7. ^ Abowitz, Richard (2004). "Patti Smith". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 751–52. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  8. ^ Marchese, David (September 2008). "Discography: Patti Smith". Spin. 24 (9): 108. Retrieved October 15, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 24, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ Marsh, Dave (April 20, 1978). "Patti Smith: Easter". Rolling Stone (263). Archived from the original on December 9, 2007. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  11. ^ Tosches, Nick (June 1978). "Patti Smith Group: Easter". Creem. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  12. ^ Bangs, Lester (May 1978). "Patti Smith's Top 40 Insurrection". Phonograph Record. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  13. ^ "The 1978 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. January 22, 1979. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Easter". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b "European charts". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  16. ^ "Easter > Chart & Awards". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  17. ^ "French album certifications – Patti Smith – Easter" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  18. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  19. ^ "British album certifications – Patti Smith Group – Easter". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Easter in the search field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]