Wave (Patti Smith Group album)

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Wave - Patti Smith Group.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 17, 1979 (1979-05-17)
StudioBearsville Studios, New York
ProducerTodd Rundgren
Patti Smith chronology
Dream of Life
Singles from Wave
  1. "Frederick AS 0427"
    Released: 1979
  2. "Dancing Barefoot ARIST 281 (UK)"
    Released: 1979
  3. "So You Want to Be
    (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)
    AS 0453"

    Released: 1979
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[2]
Rolling Stone(not rated)[3]
Smash Hits5/10[4]

Wave is the fourth studio album by the Patti Smith Group, released May 17, 1979, on Arista Records. This album was less commercially successful than its predecessor, Easter, although it continued the band's move towards more radio-friendly mainstream pop music. It was produced by artist/producer Todd Rundgren.


The title track was a tribute to Pope John Paul I, whose brief papacy coincided with the recording sessions. The first single off the album was "Frederick", a love song for her husband-to-be Fred "Sonic" Smith with a melody and structure bearing resemblance to "Because the Night", the group's biggest hit. The second single, "Dancing Barefoot", has been covered by many artists.

The band broke up after this album was released, and Smith went on to marry Fred Smith. She spent many years in semi-retirement following the birth of their children, Jesse and Jackson, until her 1988 solo comeback album, Dream of Life. The 1996 remaster of Wave includes Smith's original version of "Fire of Unknown Origin." Blue Öyster Cult's version was released on their album of the same name in 1981. The back cover of the original LP bore a quote from the Jean Genet poem, "Le Condamné à mort:"

Oh go through the walls; if you must, walk on the ledges
Of roofs, of oceans; cover yourself with light;
Use menace, use prayer...
My sleepers will flee toward another America


Upon its release in 1979, the album garnered mixed reviews, attracting either positive or negative commentary on its polished production and conventionality. Tom Carson of Rolling Stone was not favorable in his review of the album, negatively likening it to Radio Ethiopia. Simon Frith of Melody Maker was more appreciative of the album, praising Rundgren's hand in the production and considered the songs to represent a newfound focus for Smith and the band.

'Broken Flag' is the 1980s featured music track which accompanies the period spy thriller The Americans, in Season 6 episode 'Harvest' aired on May 9, 2018, accompanying the scene where Elizabeth and Philip dispose of body parts approximately 30 minutes into the episode.

Track listing[edit]

Side one

  1. "Frederick" (Patti Smith) – 3:01
  2. "Dancing Barefoot" (Smith, Ivan Kral) – 4:18
  3. "So You Want to Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)" (Jim McGuinn, Chris Hillman) – 4:18
  4. "Hymn" (Smith, Lenny Kaye) – 1:10
  5. "Revenge" (Smith, Kral) – 5:06

Side two

  1. "Citizen Ship" (Smith, Kral) – 5:09
  2. "Seven Ways of Going" (Smith, Kral, Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty, Richard Sohl) – 5:12
  3. "Broken Flag" (Smith, Kaye) – 4:55
  4. "Wave" (Smith) – 4:55

Compact Disc bonus tracks

  1. "Fire of Unknown Origin" (Smith, Kaye) – 2:09
  2. "5-4-3-2-1" / "Wave" (Live, May 23, 1979, New York) (Paul Jones, Mike Hugg, Manfred Mann) – 2:43


  • On some vinyl releases "So You Want to Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)" and "Citizen Ship" swapped places.[5]


Patti Smith Group

Additional musicians


  • Vic Anesini – mastering
  • George Carnell – assistant engineer
  • Tom Edmonds – assistant engineer


Chart (1979) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 30
Austria 19[citation needed]
Norway 7[citation needed]
Sweden[7] 17
UK Albums Chart[8] 41
U.S. Billboard 200[9] 18

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[11] Gold 354,000[10]

Release history[edit]

Date Label Format Catalog No.
May 17, 1979 Arista Records LP 4221
c. 1986 (original CD release from LP master) Arista Records CD 251139
1996 (Digital Remaster by Bill Inglot and Ken Perry) Arista Records CD 18829-2
2007 (20-bit Digital Remaster by Bob Irwin and Vic Anesini) Sony BMG CD 37930
2008 Sony BMG CD 'Original Album Classics' box set 88697313832


  1. ^ AllMusic Review
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 12, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  3. ^ "rolling stone review of wave". oceanstar. Archived from the original on 2010-09-26. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  4. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (June 14–27 1979): 25.
  5. ^ "Patti Smith Group – Wave". Discogs. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 278. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "European charts". Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  8. ^ "UK chart". Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  9. ^ "Billboard chart". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  10. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  11. ^ "French album certifications – Patti Smith – Wave" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.

External links[edit]