From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Patti Smith, ‘Radio Ethiopia’ (Test Pressing)

Radio Ethiopia is the Patti Smith Group’s Jan Brady, the neglected middle child smiling sadly between older sister Horses and younger sister Easter. But let’s be honest: Smith, Lenny Kaye, and the rest of the band on a bad day are more interesting than pretty much any other band on any other day.

The album is still in print on CD for next to nothing and of course you can stream it, but my copy is really all about the artifact. I’m not sure why I love test pressings so much. My hunch is that it’s partly due to their rarity and partly because I like to imagine that moment when the band received their test copies and spun them for the first time. That’s all fantasy, by the way: Test pressings often went to radio stations and DJs as advance promos, but I have a couple in my collection that I can trace back to the folks involved with the record.

Anyway, it’s Patti Smith and it’s a test pressing, so my hunch is that if you run across a copy you’re going to have to pay in the 50-100 dollar range. Then again, you might find one for ten bucks, who knows? Happy hunting.

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