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Six Albums Recorded by Elliott Smith While in High School Surface Online

The raw, rudimentary cuts were recorded between 1985 and 1989

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Elliott Smith teenage albums high school recordings archive
Elliott Smith, photo by llaurens (via Wikimedia)

    Six full-length albums by Elliott Smith dating back to his teenage years circa 1985 have surfaced online.

    As Pitchfork notes, the recently unveiled archive of then-16-year-old Portland, Oregon teenager Steven Paul Smith was painstakingly discovered and distributed by a young Texas fan deep in a years-long pursuit.

    Cameron McCrary emailed local Portland record stores and posted entries on Discogs as part of his treasure hunt. Tony Lash, who played drums on several of the records, sold the surviving copies to an Elliott Smith completist. Other recordings trickled out over the course of two years.

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    All told, the repertoire spans six albums recorded between 1985 and 1989 by Smith and his high school buddies under various band names, including 1985’s Any Kind of Mudhen, 1986’s Still Waters More or Less and 1987’s Menagerie by Stranger Than Fiction; 1988’s The Greenhouse by A Murder of Crows; and 1989’s Trick of Paris Season by Harum Scarum.

    The collection also reveals traces of future Smith solo works, like a 1988 rendition of “Condor Ave”  that’s nearly identical to the version on his 1994 debut Roman Candle aside from completely different lyrics. More unearthed gems include a predecessor to XO’s “Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands” as well as the 1986 Stranger Than Fiction song “Fast Food,” which seems directly linked to Figure 8’s “Junk Bond Trader.”

    The group, who originally bonded over their love for The Beatles, Elvis Costello, and RUSH, disbanded after recording Trick of Paris Season during breaks between college semesters. It notably features the first use of the singer’s more identifiable alias “Elliott Smith” in the liner notes.

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    Check out a few select album cuts from Elliott Smith’s teenage archive below. The rest of the albums can be found via YouTube.

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