Monday, November 22, 2010

An Introduction To Elliott Smith: Album Review

For music fans who just plain missed Elliott Smith during his brief career, or were just a little too young at the time - now is your chance to see what all of the fuss was about.  Kill Rock Stars, the record label home to all but two of Smith's albums, has just released a 14-song collection called An Introduction To Elliott Smith.

Like creating a mix tape/CD for a friend, it is never easy - you only have room for so many songs, and you want it to be a good representation of the artist's complete body of work.  The majority of the tracks are taken from two of his indie releases:  Elliott Smith (1995) and Either/Or (1997), including the sly double entendres of 'Needle In The Hay' and the tragic 'Alameda' (nobody broke your heart / you broke your own).  Only two tracks appear from his major label offerings: the outstanding Waltz #2 from XO (1998) and Happiness from Figure 8 (2000).  

While Elliott didn't have any mainstream hit singles, he did have his moment in the spotlight when Miss Misery (from the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack) was nominated for a Grammy in 1998.  An early version of Miss Misery, taken from the double album of rarities - New Moon - is here in its stunning, bare form with just acoustic guitar and voice.

This collection would not be complete if it weren't for two of my favorites: 'Twilight' and 'Pretty (Ugly Before)' off Smith's final album, From A Basement On The Hill.  I was a little disappointed to not see St. Ides Heaven and Say Yes included, but that's okay - there are plenty of gems left for you to discover from each of his albums.  I say fall in love with this one, then go back and get them all, beginning with From A Basement On The Hill.

Elliott Smith was an amazing singer, guitarist and songwriter.  Unfortunately we will never see the full extent of his talent, as his life came to a tragic end in 2003 at the age of 34.

Buy the entire album:  CD, MP3, Vinyl
Key Tracks:  Twilight, Pretty (Ugly Before), Waltz #2, Needle In The Hay
Release Date:  November 2, 2010 on Kill Rock Stars

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