1976's Radio Ethiopia, the follow-up to Horses, turned out to be both more conventional in some ways and more challenging in others. A deciding factor was Jack 'aerosmith' Douglas replacement of John Cale as producer - the songs were more succinct (for the most part) this time around. The group continued to strive for the perfect balance between thought-provoking poetry and rough rock n' roll.
The opening Ask the Angels was perhaps the Patti Smith Group's most straight-ahead rocker up to that point, while the exploratory reggae-tinged Ain't it Strangewould be extended concert staple. The tempo is brought down a notch or two on the cool Poppies, Abyssinia, and Chiklets (the latter a bonus track on the '96 CD remaster), but soon returns to furious rock with Pumping (My Heart). Also included is the album's best track, the haunting and heartbroken Distant Fingers, while the 10-minute title cut features a repetitive heavy metal riff amongst a backdrop of sonic experimentation and a frantic recitation by Smith.