Elliott Smith reissue upsets fans

Forthcoming 'remastering' of late singer-songwriter's debut album provokes complaints for correcting mistakes of original

A remastered version of the late Elliott Smith's debut album will be released next month, despite complaints from fans who, er, haven't heard it yet. The reissue of Roman Candle, first released in 1994, is being supervised by Smith's long-time friend, Larry Crane.

"My first thought was, 'Am I doing the right thing?'" Crane told Spinner. "I said to my girlfriend, 'My God, should I be doing this?' She said, 'Are you making it sound better?' I said, 'I guess'. She said, 'How can that be wrong?'"

That hasn't stopped objections from loyal fans. "I'm getting [bashed] on message-boards for something nobody's heard," Crane said. "Some people are like, 'Oh my God, how can you do that?' I'm not smashing it and flatlining it like a Metallica record."

Roman Candle was Smith's first solo album, released when he was better known as a member of Portland, Oregon band Heatmiser. Four years later, the singer-songwriter achieved mainstream success with his Oscar-nominated work on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack. Even as he wrestled with drugs and depression, Smith wrote beautiful, melancholy and understated songs, laced with wry humour. He took his own life in 2003.

According to Crane, who is the archivist for the Elliott Smith estate, this isn't strictly a "remastering" because Roman Candle was never mastered in the first place. "He used really cheap mics on the record," Crane explained. "Some sounds are really jarring. I was very timid at first, but the more I listened and altered the volume on those squeaks a tiny bit, the guitar playing just became more clear. I know it's going to sound different to some people, but I cannot imagine that they'd have a problem with what we've done."

Roman Candle will be reissued by Kill Rock Stars on 6 April, together with a new version of 2004's posthumous Elliott Smith album, From a Basement On the Hill.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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