Happy 20th Birthday to Elliott Smith’s Either/Or
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Elliott Smith’s 1997 ever-so-classic Either/Or will be released once again this March 10th and will feature not only a completely remastered version, but several rare tracks as well. Either/Or is the solo artist’s third studio album released through independent record label Kill Rock Stars — the same label that has worked with other established alternative artists such as Nirvana and the Melvins. The rare tracks featured on the record include an alternate version of of the popular song “Bottle Up and Explode,” an unreleased recording of “I Figured You Out” and an entirely remixed and revamped “I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure You Out.”
As if a fully remastered album including unreleased songs isn’t enough to get the fans on fire, the anniversary/expanded edition of the Either/Or will incorporate live versions of several tracks taken from Smith’s performance at the Yoyo A Go Go Festival in 1997.
For those who are unfamiliar, Smith was an American singer, songwriter and musician who got his start in the scene in the early ’90s. Although his primary instrument was the guitar, he was a multitalented musician, being proficient in piano, clarinet, bass guitar, drums and harmonica. The acoustic-alternative artist was known for his distinct vocal style, characterized by faint, delicate expression, and he created tons of vocal layers, textures and harmonies through use of multi-tracking.
Tough, painful and emotional themes were constantly present throughout Smith’s work due to an ongoing, destructive battle with drug addiction, alcohol abuse and depression. Although the tracks on Either/Or hold up to Smith’s constant dark and gloomy style, what separates this album from his previous two is the fact that there seems to be somewhat of a light-at-the-end-of-a-tunnel feel throughout, which gives the record a chance to break away from the rest. Tracks like “Alameda,” “Speed Trials” and “The Morning After” are painfully somber, but are accompanied by a classic pop feel vaguely reminiscent of the Beatles, of whom Smith is a notoriously huge fan.
Overall, Smith’s outstanding sorting of acoustics and harmonies, along with riveting hooks that have the ability to scream both heartache and hope, make Either/Or worthy of not only this fantastic revamp, but a place in everyone’s playlist, car stereo or CD collection — whatever it may be.