In the mid-’80s, late folk great Elliott Smith was in high school, but he already started recording. Now, six full-length albums he recorded at the time surfaced online.
It turns out that Cameron McCrary, a longtime Smith fan from Texas unearthed this music through a six year long search.
Smith, who at the time went as Steven Paul Smith and lived in Portland, Oregon, recorded that music, along with Tony Lash, who played drums on several of the records, and who sold the surviving copies to an Elliott Smith completist. Other recordings trickled out over the course of two years.
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.
As Consequence of Sound notes, this 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.”