Album review: Elliott Smith – Either/Or: Expanded Edition

by Jon E. Lynch

Elliott Smith, “Either/Or: Expanded Edition”

Available: Friday, March 10, via Kill Rock Stars in various formats: digital download, double compact disc, and double LP on standard black vinyl. A limited edition double LP on Buttercream Splatter vinyl was available in a pressing of 1,000 and quickly sold out, though it is entirely possible that one could scour the internet for a copy at an inflated, exorbitant price.

Elliott Smith released his third record, and final for Olympia, Washington-based independent label Kill Rock Stars in late February 1997. Twenty years and a few days later, the same label offers a remastered and expanded edition of the record to commemorate that initial release. This particular album has become a fan favorite and the jumping-off point to the new fans alike. Listeners may recognize standout tracks “Between the Bars,” “Angeles,” and “Say Yes” from their inclusion in Gus Van Sant’s film “Good Will Hunting,” released the same year.

The expanded edition features the original tracks “carefully remastered from the original tapes under the supervision of Larry Crane.” Crane is the official archivist for Smith and has owned and operated famed Jackpot! Recording Studio in Portland, where he has made records with Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, The Thermals, Death Cab for Cutie, and Sleater-Kinney, among many other indie stalwarts in the Pacific Northwest. No one was better suited for the undertaking. Aside from the remastering, the album includes five live multi-track recordings, three previously-unreleased studio recordings and a “b side gem.” This version of the album is a more-than-appropriate introduction, or reintroduction, to Smith’s delicate vocal style, complex guitar work, and layered harmonies that typified his unique style of indie/folk.

Recommended for fans of Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens or Jeff Buckley.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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