Published Dec 15, 2009If you're still bummed about that dodgy-looking Elliott Smith doc, we have some news that should cheer you up. Come April 6, Kill Rock Stars will be re-releasing 2004's From a Basement on the Hill and, more excitingly, Smith's 1994 effort, Roman Candle, which will be remastered and put out on vinyl for the first time in North America.
As Kill Rock Stars' founder Slim Moon says in the press release, Roman Candle had a big impact on him, obviously making this reissue a special one.
"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," Moon remembers. "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."
As for the remastering of Roman Candle, that was handled by Larry Crane, the editor of Tape Op Magazine and archivist for Smith's family. Thankfully, it seems as if he's tried to stay true to the original version and only attempted to clear up the rough spots.
"The intention that I had was to make the album more listenable," Crane says in the release. "I felt that a lot of the guitar 'squeaks' were jarring and very loud, and that many of the hard consonants and 'S' sounds were jarring and scratchy sounding. I felt by reducing these noises that the music would become more inviting and the sound would serve the songs better. When I went to Roger Seibel's SAE Mastering, he proceeded to equalize the tracks a small amount and to make the volume slightly louder. We never tried to make this CD as loud as current, over-limited trends, but just to match the volume of the rest of Elliott's KRS catalogue in a graceful way. Please note that none of this album is 'remixed' from the master tapes - it is still composed of the mixes Elliott created himself."
The release doesn't mention that KRS is making any changes to From a Basement on the Hill, which was originally released through Anti-, so we assume that's staying as is.
And just to throw a bit more good Elliott Smith news into the mix, KRS have also dug up another previously unreleased song from the late songwriter, called "Cecilia/Amanda." It was originally recorded at Portland, OR's Jackpot! Recording Studio in 1997, with Crane, and an earlier version of the track was recorded by Smith's high school band, Stranger Than Fiction, under the title "Time Is Ours Now."
To download the new version, you can grab it free of charge here.