From a Basement on the Hill


From a Basement on the Hill
From a Basement on the Hill
Studio album by Elliott Smith
Released October 19, 2004
Recorded 2002-2003 in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles
Genre Indie rock
Length 57:54
Label ANTI-
86741CD
Producer Elliott Smith
Rob Schnapf
Joanna Bolme
Professional reviews

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Elliott Smith chronology
Figure 8
(2000)
From a Basement on the Hill
(2004)
New Moon
(2007)

From a Basement on the Hill is the sixth and final studio album by the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. Released posthumously on October 19, 2004 by ANTI- Records in CD, double LP, and digital download, it peaked at #19 in the US and #41 in the UK.

The album was incomplete at the time of Smith's death. Smith's family hired his former producer Rob Schnapf and ex-girlfriend Joanna Bolme to sort through and put the finishing touches on the batch of over 30 songs that were recorded for the album. Although Smith had stated many times that he wanted Basement to be a double CD album, contractual obligations with the singer's former label DreamWorks (now Interscope) prevented them from releasing a double album on an independent label.[citation needed] Thus, a 15 track album was assembled and released. Many of the songs Smith intended for the album remained unfinished, in some cases only lacking vocals. Metacritic gave the album an 88(universal acclaim).[1] This score reflects one of the 50 best-reviewed albums in the website's data-base.

Contents

Production

Following Smith's death, Rob Schnapf, producer of Smith's earlier albums Either/Or, XO and Figure 8, was hired to mix and produce the album, along with Smith's former girlfriend Joanna Bolme. David McConnell, although present throughout much of the actual recording process, save Smith's last year of working on the record, was not consulted during the mixing, nor was he asked for the extensive "three years' worth" of notes he and Smith had made while the album was being recorded.[4] The producer also noted that the track "Ostriches & Chirping," a short instrumental made from sampling and looping the noises made by a toy bird, had nothing to do with Smith and was something that McConnell had recorded by himself. McConnell said: "...don't ask me how this ended up on the record, I totally forgot I had put that on one of his reels."[5]

When asked what he believed the late Smith would think of the released version of the album, McConnell told Benjamin Nugent, "I don't think he would have delivered [that] record. The record he would have delivered would have had more songs, would have had different mixes and [been] a little more in-your-face."[4] Schnapf also expressed that the final result that he and Bolme had produced was not the album that Smith would have made, simply because Elliott was not around to finish the album. Schnapf also said that they did not add anything to the songs, and only mixed whatever had been recorded: "I would never presume to add anything. We didn't add anything."[6]

Track listing

All songs written by Elliott Smith except as noted.

  1. "Coast to Coast" – 5:33
  2. "Let's Get Lost" – 2:27
  3. "Pretty (Ugly Before)" – 4:45
  4. "Don't Go Down" – 4:34
  5. "Strung Out Again" – 3:12
  6. "A Fond Farewell" – 3:58
  7. "King's Crossing" – 4:57
  8. "Ostrich & Chirping" (David McConnell) – 0:33
  9. "Twilight" – 4:29
  10. "A Passing Feeling" – 3:32
  11. "The Last Hour" – 3:27
  12. "Shooting Star" – 6:01
  13. "Memory Lane" – 2:30
  14. "Little One" – 3:14
  15. "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free" – 4:32

Track information

  • "Coast to Coast" features poetry by Nelson Gary. Smith told Under the Radar in 2003, "I asked this friend of mine to make up something he could say as fast as he could in fifteen minutes about people healing themselves or being unable to heal themselves. While he's saying this thing there is a main vocal that goes over that."
  • "Pretty (Ugly Before)" previously appeared on a 2003 single on Suicide Squeeze Records, along with a different version of "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free". According to McConnell, Smith did not intend to have "Pretty (Ugly Before)" on the album.
  • In "King's Crossing", after Smith sings "give me one good reason not to do it," a woman's voice (Jennifer Chiba) can be faintly heard saying, "because I love you."[7] It reflects the phrase being shouted at shows in which Smith performed the song.
  • "Twilight" was originally entitled "Somebody's Baby".
  • If the song "Little One" is played backwards, one can hear some acoustic guitar lines as they were originally recorded, unreversed.
  • Wayne Coyne (of The Flaming Lips) and Elliott came up with the title for the song "A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to Be Free".[citation needed]
  • The composition of the track "Ostriches & Chirping" has been disputed. According to David McConnell, who worked with Smith in some of the earlier stages of the Basement album, this track was created by McConnell himself. A reel containing the track was found by Smith's family, assumed to be a Smith composition, and was placed on the album.

Personnel

Outtakes, B-sides, non-album tracks

The following songs were known to have been written and in various stages of recording (with some fully completed) during the Basement era, but were ultimately not included on the 2004 album:

Officially released

  • "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free" (alternate version, found on the "Pretty (Ugly Before)" single.)

Unofficially released

  • "The Assassin or (Kill) Fuck" - leaked online several years ago. It was thought that "The Assassin" was a totally different song until it was recently confirmed that the leaked instrumental was indeed this song.
  • "Dancing on the Highway" – three mixes have surfaced among fans, one backed by Figure 8 track "The Roost", and another without the "Roost" loop. The final mix is assumed to be Rob Schnapf's mix of the song.
  • "Don't Go Down" (alternate version)
  • "Everything's OK" – a reworking of the Either/Or outtake "Pretty Mary K" (not to be confused with the song of the same name on Figure 8).
  • "From a Poison Well" - a reworking of the Either/Or outtake "First Timer"
  • "Let's Turn the Record Over" - also known by the title "Bonnie Brae"; recorded at Jackpot! on 8/3/2000 by Larry Crane.
  • "Melodic Noise" - instrumental "noise track". The track uses a reversed melody from the XO outtake "Taking A Fall".
  • "Mr. Good Morning" – two versions have leaked online, one with a vocal track and one with no vocals but an alternate mix.
  • "O So Slow" - instrumental "noise track"; two mixes have surfaced.
  • "See You in Heaven" – instrumental only, said to have never had vocals completed.
  • "Splitzville" - featured in Southlander, played over the end credits. According to Larry Crane, the song "was written in the early 90's, at least that early." Also: "The song was around as far back as 1993 though. The 2 parts of the song as heard in 'Southlander' are 2 different takes, and the 'outro' was mixed for possible FABOTH use. This I do know."
  • "Stickman" – two alternate versions, one with reversed drums
  • "Suicide Machine" – vocals recorded over the Figure 8 outtake "Tiny Time Machine"; said to be the last song Smith worked on.
  • "True Love" – three different versions: one rough mix, one featuring more coherent vocal takes, and an instrumental version.
  • "Yay!" – noise track

Unreleased

  • "Brand New Game" - Originally recorded for Figure 8. Further work was done during this era on the Figure 8 era recording of the song.
  • "Shooting Star" (extended mix)
  • "Mama's Boy" - From a Basement on the Hill sessions version of "Either/Or".
  • "I Don't Give a Fuck" - From a Basement on the Hill sessions version of an early '90s 4-track demo Smith recorded originally entitled "Where I Get It From".

Noise songs

In later interviews, Smith spoke of experimenting with noise tracks. "Melodic Noise", "O So Slow", "The Assassin", and "Yay!" have leaked online.

  • "Melodic Noise"
  • "O So Slow"
  • "The Assassin or (Kill) Fuck"
  • "Yay!"
  • "Pink Noise/White Noise"

Other From a Basement On the Hill-era tracks

  • "Blue Mood" - Played live one time. According to Larry Crane, the song originates from 1989, and was recorded by Harum Scarum as "This Bed" (co-written with Garrick Duckler). Unknown if later studio version exists.
  • "Confusion" - played live during the Figure 8 tour.
  • "My New Freedom" (aka "Doing Okay, Pretty Good") - Played live once in 1997 and again in 2001 and 2002. Unknown if studio version exists, speculated to have possibly been reworked into "See You in Heaven".
  • "You Make It Seem Like Nothing" – Played live once in 1996 and again in 2003. Unknown if studio version exists.

References

  1. ^ a b c http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/smithelliott/fromabasementonthehill
  2. ^ a b http://www.metacritic.com/music/from-a-basement-on-the-hill/critic-reviews
  3. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/14639/80550
  4. ^ a b "Elliott Smith Lives Again! From a Basement on the Hill V.2". http://www.confabulators.com/2005/elliott-smith-lives-again-from-a-basement-on-the-hill-v2. Retrieved 2006-04-21. 
  5. ^ McConnell, David (2004). "Thursday, December 9, 2004". See "News" section. http://www.davidmcconnell.net/index_original.html. Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  6. ^ Blair, Elizabeth (October 15, 2004). "'From a Basement': Elliott Smith's Posthumous Gift". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4109711. Retrieved 2006-04-28. 
  7. ^ Ben Nanamaker (2004-10-21). "Final album displays ambivalence". The Lantern. http://media.www.thelantern.com/media/storage/paper333/news/2004/10/21/Arts/Final.Album.Displays.Ambivalence-775864.shtml. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 

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