Today, Kill Rock Stars released probably their worst idea ever. A compilation of Elliott Smith, entitled An Introduction to… Elliott Smith. This isn’t going to be a rant on the induction of songs onto the compilation, no, I could go on for hours about the lack of “Say Yes” or “Speed Trials” but instead, I’m choosing to rant about why this compilation exists in the first place.
To begin, Elliott was a perfectionist on making albums. I have heard anecdotes of him completely trashing a song, which he had liked previously, after listening to it in his car. That’s probably why seemingly every year we get a new “unearthed” track from him. But back to the point. To make a summary of all the hard work he put into during into his 7 albums, and all the other unreleased material is just absurd.
To be fair, I am a huge Elliott Smith fan. He’s up there with the likes of Radiohead, Animal Collective, Kraftwerk, etc. I look at each of his albums like pieces of art. Which they are. Each has its own themes, motifs, and ideas that are cohesive and part of the album. Listening to Either/Or all the way through is a completely different experience then listening to Figure 8 all the way through.
Even the style of the music is different, which is blatantly obvious for anyone to know. Roman Candle, his first album was simply recorded with a four track recorder. You can hear him starting and stopping the player with the little clicks. Its apart of the album’s experience. Needless to say, Figure 8 is a more well produced piece of work. Its noisier, and reflects Smith’s movement towards a noisier style. Again, to summarize, or condense these works is unthinkable.
So instead of going out and listening to this randomly made compilation, how about get a real introduction. Get Roman Candle. Don’t like it? Try Either/Or. That’s my personal favorite.