Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith



by Tapeworm USER (12 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 199 replies

Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

1995 - Kill Rock Stars

Elliott plays all instruments except for electric guitar on "Single File" and vocal harmonies on "St Ides Heaven".

This is Elliott's second release, and it was recorded in spare time at his girlfriend's and friend's house in spare time away from Heatmiser. It is a very stripped back record, but not as straight-forward acoustic as many people seem to think it is. This album comes off as being almost entirely about drugs (namely heroin) and drug addiction. Elliott has been quoted as saying that it is not simply about drugs, but he used drugs as a metaphor for many other feelings, and he did this because drugs were what he knew at the time. There are layers upon layers, percussion, electric guitar solos, some kind of organ, harmonica ... etc. The thing about Elliott Smith is that he created brilliant melodies which, without your knowledge, would be stuck in your head. Sometimes you don't realize, and they seem so unconventional, but they do. That is why he called himself a pop musician. Anyway, onto the tracks.

01 Needle in the Hay
This song is perfect. Minimal guitar work, with power chords and some strange variations. There is a brilliant, backhandedly witty line in this song: "You oughtta be proud that I'm getting good marks". It is one of those songs that makes you want to play acoustic guitar for 10 days straight. The vocals are very loudly mixed in the verses, which brings the rawness to the forefront. This may not have been intentional, but what the hey. 5/5

02 Christian Brothers
The song has a beautiful intro, and the first time you hear it, it sounds like it awkwardly moves into the first verse, but as it continues, it all melds well. The first appearance of drumming on the album, and the chorus to this is absolutely stunning. When the song peaks, and Elliott strains: "Come here by me, I want you here", it floors me. 5/5

03 Clementine
Another weirdly funky sounding slow chord intro, and the vocal line comes in moving with the high notes on the guitar. It is true Elliott style, and it flows very very well. Again, the guitar skill of our man is showcased here. No drums here, and it is a very calm song. Great flow. 4.5/5

04 Southern Belle
Fast picked intro, followed by a brilliant guitar part. The vocal line is very unexpected, and very very delicate and angry at the same time. I love the guitar in this song. The chorus is very catchy when it comes in fully, and rather heavy (not technically). Aww gee, it's too good. 5/5

05 Single File
Here is the first electric guitar on the album, and it is basically just the melody of the chorus in the intro. The verses of this track are especially great, and the chorus is catchy. Standout line "You idiot kid, you're arm's got a death in it". 4.7/5

06 Coming Up Roses
The most memorably catchy song on the album, with a cool as chorus. The first time I listened to the album I couldn't stop singing the chorus all day. This track has the most instrumentation, with an organ, guitar, electric guitar and percussion. Great great great song. The electric guitar part after the chorus is very very Beatles-esque. 5/5

07 Satelite
Yet another cool acoustic intro, and some more subdued singing. Again Elliott uses double vocal tracking for the verses, which seems to happen often. This song acts to cool down the flow, but keep it going, much like Clementine. It is still a very good song, but not one of my favourites. 4/5

08 Alphabet Town
Dylan sounding intro. Harmonica! I really don't know why he didn't use more harmonica, because it works so well with his voice. This song is pure cool. The best part is how the notes stretch and stumble over the end of where they should be. It feels so good to listen to his voice like that. No drums, but it gets rather lively towards the end. When he starts to say "Hand on your arm ... " the song reaches greatness. 5/5

09 St Ides Heaven
Power chord intro, much like Needle, and the vocals come in, dancing around the guitar. There is the female vocal harmony throughout pretty much the whole song, which adds to the feel of it. The drums come in, and the song makes you tap your foot. I love the vocal melody in the verses of this track, and I really dig it when he swears for some reason. He straight up mentions amphetamines too. 5/5

10 Good To Go
A really innocent sounding beginning, with some cowboy sounding guitar. He is telling a story about a fellow junky to begin with. Then the great line "I wouldn't need a hero if I wasn't such a zero" is repeated, and the song gets even better. The lyrics for the whole song are just absolutely perfect. It seems to be about one of his friends wanting to try drugs, and him saying it's his choice. 4.5/5

11 The White Lady Loves You More
This sounds sort of like another Smith song, but I can't figure it. The song is practically about one reason why people would do drugs. It is such an honestly written song, like all of the album. You can't rely on people, but you can rely on drugs. I love the forst chorus, which leads into a verse with strings over the top of it. I'm a sucker for strings, and they work so well here. 5/5<

12 The Biggest Lie
There is a line in this that really gets me. "And now I'm a crushed credit card registered to Smith, not the name you call me by." It is a plain acoustic song, and the length of the lines in the verses is really well done. The chorus is very very good too. It seems like he intentionally wrote an overly dramatic line, and then followed it by the title. Great end to the album. 5/5

I know I rated every song above 4, and a lot I gave 5's, but this album is without flaw. It is one of my favourite albums ever, and it is just so well written, and showcases how talent the man himself was. The stripped back recording allows his guitar work and raw voice shine through, and carry itself.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 1st 2004


Elliott Smith hasn't released anything that I havent loved, but this is one of my all time favorite albums. Needle in the Hay is one of the greatest songs i've ever heard, you can't go wrong with this album.

Nice review.

Little Man being Erased
December 2nd 2004


Very nice review, you best yet Tapey.

December 2nd 2004


Rar. I hate you! I was half way through my review for this.

Anyway. This is his best, and great review. My personal favorite is The Biggest Lie, it is just so cute.

The Ashtray Girl
December 2nd 2004


Great review, and I agree completely with Needle In The Hay - great song.

~duely puts this on to-buy list~

December 2nd 2004


I saw elliot smith on conan o'brien once. and I almost went out and bought a cd by him, just to check it out (sort of goin in swingin blindfolded), but I never got around to it. Lately Ive been listening to a lot of mellower stuff, and Im kind of in that mood again. After reading this review, Im almost positive that after work today Im going to buy this album. Great review.

December 3rd 2004


[QUOTE=BeautifulButterfly453]Rar. I hate you! I was half way through my review for this.

Anyway. This is his best, and great review. My personal favorite is The Biggest Lie, it is just so cute.[/QUOTE]
You don't really hate me. Ey, ey.

December 3rd 2004


When I go checking out some more Elliott I'll look up on this. You rule Tapey;)

January 5th 2005


[QUOTE=BeautifulButterfly453]Rar. I hate you! I was half way through my review for this.

Anyway. This is his best, and great review. My personal favorite is The Biggest Lie, it is just so cute.[/QUOTE]


anyway, this album is indeed perfection. My favorite elliott album and for so long i thought this was the worst.

January 5th 2005


Don't talk **** to my other screen name.

It's a cute song.

January 5th 2005


[QUOTE=pixiesfanyo]Don't talk **** to my other screen name.

It's a cute song.[/QUOTE]

Cute? It's so emotional and sad and filled with pain. :p

March 20th 2005


Great review! I just got this album a few days ago, and I love it. I agree that almost every song on it is flawless. Gods I love elliott smith. He was such a genius.

October 23rd 2007


Man, I've only listened to this twice and I have to say, it blows Either/Or out of the record. Either/Or is still amazing but this is so much more intimate, emotional, just all round better, lyrically and guitar wise.

February 18th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

This album is fantastic. "Needle in the hay" and "The white lady loves you more" -maybe the best songs on this- don't talk about drugs-dipendence, but Elliott uses methaphors to link the image of dipendence by drugs to the idea of dipendence to love. My fave song is "Coming up roses".

01 Needle in the Hay 5

02 Christian Brothers 4,5

03 Clementine 5

04 Southern Belle 5

05 Single File 4,5

06 Coming Up Roses 5

07 Satellite 4

08 Alphabet Town 4,5

09 St Ides Heaven 4

10 Good To Go 3,5

11 The White Lady Loves You More 5

12 The Biggest Lie 4,5This Message Edited On 02.18.08

March 22nd 2008


This album is an amazing piece of work. My favorite of his is in between this and Either/Or.

March 22nd 2008


Christian Brothers is my favorite off this albumThis Message Edited On 03.22.08

May 29th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Every song deserves clearly a 5/5 exept maybe 'Satellite' and 'Good to Go'. So I totally agree with your ratings. Elliott wrote Angel in the Snow', 'Talking to Mary', 'High Times', 'Riot Coming', 'Georgia, Georgia', 'Whatever (Folk Song in C)', and 'Big Decision' also for this album, but decided to leave them out. They appear in New Moon although I think most of them should have been added here and maybe 'Satellite' should have been left out instead (the only song I just can't get into).

August 6th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

My favorite Elliott Smith album, everything=5/5

August 6th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

My favorite Elliott Smith album, everything=5/5

Agreed. Well, like I apparently said there, only two tracks may not deserve a 5/5

December 25th 2008


NO you should get your a$$ hole f**ked open with my foot b***h
dont ever talk that way about Ronnie

February 17th 2009


i bought this on vinyl the other day. i haven't listened to all of it yet though.

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