Either/Or (20th Anniversary Edition)

Elliott Smith

Kill Rock Stars/UMe, 2017

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/13/2017

This is officially the 20th anniversary of Elliott Smith’s breakout third album, the one that began his ascent into the national consciousness. Brought out once more with remastered sound and previously unreleased live tracks, the album really shows how unique, different, and truly special Smith was as a songwriter.nbtc__dv_250

“Ballad Of Big Nothing” still sounds strong, as does a song like “Speed Trials,” which is one of the best moments here. Tracks like this do an amazing job of really showing how great of a songwriter Smith was; he always had such a unique grasp of pain, seeming futility, and desperateness. “Pictures Of Me” is yet another example of how talented the man really was and why his music and his words still hold up so well all these years later.

But the real beauty here is the song “Angeles,” a fantastic, beautiful track from start to finish and one of my personal favorites. The song still sounds amazing all these years later and goes down in the pantheon of great Smith tracks.

This edition adds about half a dozen previously unreleased live tracks and a few curiosities. Some of them are great and the others are just average. The ones that really stand out are “Angeles” – again, a no brainer – and “My New Freedom.” While the tracks are pretty good, they just feel like padding designed to sell more records. Fortunately, they don’t take anything away from how great the original record is and how amazing Smith was in his brief time on Earth.

Simply put, Elliott Smith was one of the best singer/songwriters of the last 30 years and it’s a damn shame he isn’t hear to grace the world with legitimate music with a point and a focus, something that’s sorely lacking these days.

Rating: B+

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