Even in the rare air of Rolling Stones greatest hits there are some numbers that are more hallowed than others. Gimmie Shelter is top shelf stuff. Right up there in ‘The Greatest Rock Songs of all time’. Pulling out Gimmie Shelter is like calling last orders in a bar and pouring everyone 20 year old scotch regardless of what they order.
Gimmie Shelter has been covered by everyone from Hawkwind to Tom Jones to The Sisters Of Mercy to The London Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s a sacred text and required reading for everyone from gutter punks (Goo Goo Dolls did a two and half minute version when they were Scrappy Doo to The Replacements Scooby) to Big Ensemble Band’s of Journey Men and Session Musicians (That ‘Woah, Children!’ bit has been relished by everyone from Lizzie Hale, Fergie, the original Merry Clayton herself and Voice Of The Beehive)
By height comparison there are few mightier figures than Patti Smith in the rich tapestry of rock and roll either. Patti Smith taking on Gimmie Shelter is like Fraser Vs. Ali or Godzilla Vs. King Kong. This is the Rock Worlds best by the Rock Worlds greatest. This can only be disappointing right? This can only be a hollow re-tread of a formula that falls between two stalls… Pfffft. This is fantastic.
Slower and MORE languid than the original (I know right?) Patti’s band bottleneck slide their way through the intro up to Patti’s opening line.
She’s part country singer part Hell Fire and Brimstone Preacher as she goes all twangy with those most familiar of words.
The band are digging on the chance to rock one of the most respected grooves in the culture. Patti doesn’t rope in a showboat backing singer for the back end. She growls and spits it all herself. The reform and civil rights era of the original are brought back to the fore in the evil mood this band cook up.
It’s such a primal sounding performance I don’t wish to shelter from it. I want to rush out into this storm and dance in it.
Because I’m such an enthusiastic little scamp I’mma let you have this bonus live take from Later… around the time Patti Smiths covers album Twelve was released.