I was a little leery of the idea of anybody “cleaning up” Elliott Smith‘s debut album, but listening to this song has quashed my fears. It sounds fucking awesome. I just did an A-B test with the MP3 on my iPhone, and the new one sounds much better. We shouldn’t be surprised. The album remastering was overseen by Larry Crane (with Roger Seibel at SAE), who worked with Smith from 1996 to 1999, co-produced “Miss Misery,” and researched, assembled and mixed New Moon in 2007.
When KRS first announced that Roman Candle would be receiving the remastering treatment, I shot Crane a quick email with my concerns.
GLONO: I’ve heard that the album was recorded while his girlfriend was in the house sleeping, which explains why it’s such a quiet album, and also would explain why the squeaks are comparatively loud to the actual guitar parts.
LC: I think the squeaks are there out of a bit of sloppiness!
GLONO: Are you concerned that messing with that might distort the historical record?
LC: What is a historical record? The CD had never been mastered in any way – it had only been assembled. I felt it was best to approach it as it should have been in the first place, and to master it to be more listenable and to serve the music better. I didn’t feel the album sounded as good as it could have. Nothing drastic was done. No squeaks were removed, just brought down in volume a little bit. The music feels a lot stronger to my ears now. His family and KRS all approved the final work.
Initially I felt it was hard to decide how to approach this. I spent nearly 30 hours making minute changes that I felt improved the whole album in very small ways. I was slightly conflicted as I didn’t want to take anything away from such an important work, but I also felt it was slightly unfinished in the form it was in.
In addition to Roman Candle, KRS will also reissue From A Basement On The Hill on April 6, 2010, making the label the home for all of Elliott Smith’s independent releases.
MP3: Elliott Smith – “Twilight” off From A Basement On The Hill