ARBITERS

MATTERS // ELLIOTT SMITH

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CHRISTOPHER T. SHARPE

It’s been ten years to the day since Mr Elliott Smith tragically left this mortal coil. Back in April I put together an Elliott Smith based Arbiter of Taste show on Radio Warwick. Unfortunately, the audio has been lost, but I did manage to track down the script I used that night. This is repeated below with YouTube videos to fill the audio gaps. Hopefully it’ll do as a shout-out to a man whose music has meant and continues to mean an enormous amount to me. RIP Sir.

“My Arbiter of the Week is Elliott Smith. There is a story behind this. We had the rather magical international celebration of all good music shops ‘Record Store Day’ on Saturday, and along with the Nicolas Jaar remixes of Grizzly Bear and Brian Eno that I picked up (which is amaaaaaazing) I got my mitts on an adorable lil yellow 7” of Alternate Takes from my favourite Elliott Smith album Either/Or. The consequence is that I fell madly in love with Elliott Smith all over again on Saturday afternoon – and I wanted to spread some of that love to you lovely people how does that sound?

Let’s kick things off with a cut from that 7” – this is an alternative version of ‘Angeles’:

Born Steven Paul Smith on August 6, 1969, Smith put out an almost preposterously consistently brilliant series of records over his career, a career that was cut far too short when died in immensely tragic circumstances on October 21, 2003, at age 34. We miss him greatly. He’s left us a rich legacy, built from his wealth of stellar influences but administered with his own unique, heart-rending stamp – and that is what I shall be weaving for you now.

We’re going to kick off with Big Star. Smith covered the band described as the Southern Beatles several times – but perhaps best known is his cover of Memphis power-pop cornerstones Big Star’s best known track: ‘Thirteen’:

A man now known as Yusuf Islam released a song. It was called ‘Trouble’. It was from an album called Mona Bone Jakon. An Elliott Smith came out on the posthumous: From a Basement on the Hill II. Let’s do this:

While at Hampshire College, Massachussetts Smith formed the band Heatmiser with classmate Neil Gust, releasing two albums and an EP before they were then signed to Virgin Records to release what became their final album, Mic City Sons (1996). This track ‘Get Lucky’ is the opening track to that LP.

Well-respected contemporaries, influencers and influencees Built to Spill from Idaho were covered by Elliott Smith when he performed ‘Car’ and they’ve returned the favour a number of times. Here’s the fantastic ‘Carry the Zero’ from the EP of the same name released in 1999.

Here’s Bright Eyes with ‘Take it Easy (Love Nothing)’ from Digital Ash in A Digital Urn, selected due to the cover of ‘The Biggest Lie’ on the Bright Eyes album Motion Sickness: Live Recordings.

And now if we’ve got time we’re going to end with one of my favourite Elliott Smith jams – ‘Say Yes’ from his – in my humble opinion – masterpiece Either/Or”

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