Kill Rock Stars will reissue Elliott Smith’s first and last albums, Roman Candle and From A Basement On The Hill, respectively, on April 6, and to whet your appetite, founder Slim Moon and current label head Portia Sabin are offering two free MP3s of Larry Crane’s remastered Smith classics.
“As I started listening to the files,” wrote Crane in the Jan/Feb issue of preeminent audio engineer magazine, Tape Op, “and making small changes—de-essing, removing unwanted noises, adding subtle volume moves, fixing bad punch-ins and applying tiny bits of noise reduction—I started to wonder if I was straying too far from the original CD.”
Crane’s referring to Roman Candle, which was recorded via 4-track cassette by Smith himself, circa ‘93. He’s the official Elliott Smith estate archivist, not to mention former Smith collaborator, friend, and man responsible for countless seminal Pacific Northwest recordings by the likes of Stephen Malkmus, Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, and more. In short, Smith’s work is in good hands.
In 1994, I had been asked to be on this five-person solo-act tour called Pop Chord with Tammy Watson, Carrie Akre, Sean Croghan and Elliott Smith. The first night at the Crocodile in Seattle, I didn’t pay too much attention and people talked all thru Elliott’s set. Sean Croghan got up next and said “all of you people who just talked through Elliott’s set are bummed because you just missed something very very special.” The next night of the tour, at The Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco, I listened very closely to Elliott’s set, and it was basically one of those life-changing moments. Instead of watching the rest of the performers, I went out to the tour van and popped Roman Candle into the player, and listened to it on endless repeat for the rest of the evening and beyond. It completely blew my mind. I have never heard music as heartwrenchingly, gut-checkingly honest, intimate, and wise before or since.