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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty flippin good, 31 Mar 2006
Well, this album contains possibly the best song ever written. This song being "twilight". Other stand out tracks include "coast to coast", "Last hour" and "lets get lost".
Elliot Smith was a fantastic talent and is a massive loss to the music business. He hasn't made one poor album and this, though not his best, is his final stamp on all things beautiful and twisted. If you're not too sure about buying an elliott smith album you should listen to key tracks first. i promise you will feel you NEED every album after listening to "needle in the hay" "coming up roses" "clementine" "rose parade" "miss misery" and the fore mentioned songs. this'll learn ya!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One last shot of brilliance! Still missing you Elliott., 18 Oct 2004
As other reviewers have pointed out, it's easy to overpraise posthumous albums of the sadly departed, partly out of grief and canonisation. Not so in this case.
Having been a huge fan of Elliott Smith since hearing his songs on Good Will Hunting, it's hard to be objective whilst reviewing his swansong in the context of his untimely passing. I'm certainly getting the impression that it's his best work yet. Even more tragic.
The quality and passion of his songwriting remains, as ever, exceptionally high. His ear for a strong melody and interesting chord progressions elevated him way above his contemporaries, though on this release, he seems to have surpassed even his own peaks. A special mention must also be made for his lyrics, which are poetic, evocative and achingly heartfelt.
There's a rawness and emotional snappiness to this album which draws you in immediately on a trip into a troubled and extremely gifted mind. Reference points for comparisons would be The Beatles, Paul Simon, Big Star, Neil Young and Nick Drake. Though Smith paints a beautiful soundscape all of his own on this brilliant album.
Forget my rambling, if you've got a pair of ears and enjoy good music, buy this album with confidence and celebrate the work of an artist who deserves to be greatly missed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fond and heartbreaking farewell. Stunning!, 24 Sep 2004
By 
D. Macphee "phacmee!" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Released from his contract with Dreamworks 'From a Basement...' allows Smith to indulge in his more experimental whims. Whereas 'Figure 8' was suffocated slightly by pressure of commercial success "From a Basement...' cuts loose and is sometimes a sprawling affair, far removed from what Smith has done to date. In fact, this is Smith's heaviest album by some margin. The first track 'Coast to Coast' begins with a ghostly orchestra before rocking into what sounds like a lost Heatmiser song. The heaviest number is without doubt 'Strung Out Again' which starts out with Smith's trademark intricate chord progressions and erupt into an amazing chorus with dischordant guitar work that Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood would be proud of.
The majority of the album is electrified but fans of Smith's more gentle side will not be disappointed either with 'Twilight', 'Last Hour', 'Memory Lane' and the beautiful, heartbreaking 'Little One' being some of Elliott's best.
At times Elliott's lyrical honestly becomes almost unbearable, detailing his addictions and time in hospital. His most brutal song, 'Memory Lane' is set to a jaunty fingerpicked guitar and features the lyrics: "Uncomfortable apart, it's all written on my chart, that i take what's given to me, most cooperatively, i do what people say and lie in bed all day, absolutely horrified, i hope you're satisfied".
The only gripe would be that the Disney-esque bird noises of 'Ostriches & Chirping' is credited as a 'song' but is only an intro to 'Twilight'. Having recorded over 30 songs for this album surely the two could have been merged as one and another song could have been included.
Elliott's songwriting has often been compared (quite rightly) to the Beatles and this album definately draws comparisons with 'The White Album' because because of it's scope of creativity. But, unlike the Beatles' effort, everyone will fall in love with this record.
It seems that Brian Wilson is not the only genius to release his 'tour de force' this year. An essential buy and 5 stars, no question.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An infectious, broody and contemplative masterpiece, 29 Nov 2004
By 
Mr. D. B. Burt "dan" (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
An essential purchase, as all of the other reviewers have stated. Not easy listening at times (but Elliott never was!), but an infectious, broody and contemplative masterpiece that is definitely my album of the year, and would certainly be one of my desert island discs. My words could never describe this album, but I urge you to let the words and music do that for you - this is one of the most 'real' records I have ever had the privelege to hear, with elements of Neil Young's 'On The Beach' or 'Tonights The Night', The Beatles, The Beach Boys, echoes of The Smiths, and yet a unique take all of its own. Such a sad loss for music - RIP Elliott. 5 Stars, without a shadow of a doubt.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fond and beautiful farewell from a friend, 18 Oct 2004
By 
D. Macphee "phacmee!" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Released from his contract with Dreamworks 'From a Basement...' allows Smith to indulge in his more experimental whims. Whereas 'Figure 8' was suffocated slightly by pressure of commercial success "From a Basement...' cuts loose and is sometimes a sprawling affair, far removed from what Smith has done to date. In fact, this is Smith's heaviest album by some margin. The first track 'Coast to Coast' begins with a ghostly orchestra before rocking into what sounds like a lost Heatmiser song. The heaviest number is without doubt 'Strung Out Again' which starts out with Smith's trademark intricate chord progressions and erupt into an amazing chorus with dischordant guitar work that Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood would be proud of.
At times Elliott's lyrical honestly becomes almost too hard to listen to, detailing his addictions and time in hospital. His most brutal song, 'Memory Lane' is set to a jaunty fingerpicked guitar and features the lyrics: "Uncomfortable apart, it's all written on my chart, that i take what's given to me, most cooperatively, i do what people say and lie in bed all day, absolutely horrified, i hope you're satisfied".
The only gripe would be that the Disney-esque bird noises of 'Ostriches & Chirping' is credited as a 'song' but is really an intro to 'Twilight'. Having recorded over 30 songs for this album surely the two could have been merged as one and another song could have been included.
Elliott's songwriting has often been compared (quite rightly) to the Beatles and this album definitely draws comparisons with 'The White Album' because of it's scope of creativity. But, unlike the Beatles' effort, EVERYONE will fall in love with this record.
Elliott has, yet again, raised the bar for songwriting brilliance. It's a shame there's now no-one around to better it (media celebrated artists such as Damien Rice don't even come close). A stunning reminder of a truly unique talent. A sad reminder of what we have lost.
An essential buy and 5 shooting stars, no question.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartbreaking goodbye to an incredible songwriter, 3 Nov 2004
By 
From A Basement On The Hill is much more than a suicide note. Like Warren Zevon's The Wind, Joy Division's Closer or Hope Of The States' debut The Lost Riots, it is too good an album to be filed under 'made just before a death'. To prove this, just listen to opener Coast To Coast: not much of Smith's earlier work contained crashing drums and the lyrics, "is there anything I can do?" This album is too beautiful to be listened to in sympathy. It may have a spirit looming over its entire duration, but it's a triumphant final hurrah.
From A Basement... will sadly be Smith's final work. Dying of two stab wounds in the chest just about a year before this album's release, the world of singer-songwriters has never been quite the same. Sure, we have umpteen grumpy dustman look-alikes who can pour all their sorrow into minor chords, but this scruffy tunesmith always had something else. A heavenly voice, perhaps, or just the ability to write morbid songs that address the listener as "you idiot kid" and still sound listenable, something that most dole-queue miserablists can only dream of.
Even if you try not to think about the tragic situation that accompanies its release, this still deserves a place amongst his finest work, both lyrically and musically. Full-on rock number Coast To Coast and upbeat strummer Pretty (Ugly Before) are surprisingly optimistic for a posthumous release. Fans of the stripped-down, frequently acoustic sound (emulated but never equalled) that made his name on Either/Or and his eponymous second album will find many rewards to reap. It's on these tracks where the tragedy is most painfully apparent: Strung Out Again hints at Smith's drug habit which led to constant depression and perhaps suicide, while the likes of King's Crossing and Twilight find Elliott alone, sometimes contemplating what made him in the state he was when he wrote them.
This album will be essential until well after the mourning ends. With the aid of friends and family, Elliott Smith has crafted another collection of songs that are bleak and lonely but somehow life-affirming. It would have gained fans and warmed hearts even without hype, because these songs are just too joyous to be listened to only for sympathy. This is not a pathetic last gasp; it's a triumphant goodbye to an exceptional talent.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fond Farewell, 10 May 2007
By 
I haven't got much to say that hasn't been said before, but this is one of my all-time favourite albums and I just wanted to add to the long list of tributes. Yes, it was released posthumously, but don't assume this is some kind of half-baked cash-in on his tragic death, or a pile of demos never meant to see the light of day a la Jeff Buckley's 'second album'. No-one is suggesting that Basement is exactly the album that Smith would have intended it to be, had he lived, but quality-wise you just can't fault it.

There are so many beautiful songs here that it's kind of mind-blowing. A Passing Feeling, The Last Hour, Memory Lane, Pretty (Ugly Before) are some of my personal favourites. The recent release of New Moon shows what an astonishing number of top-notch songs he had just knocking around in his back catalogue, the sort of tunes that today's legion of horribly insipid singer-songwriters would probably give a kidney for. These are beautiful songs about ugly things, though: drugs, depression, mental illness. Great for providing solace when you're feeling down yourself, but not so good for those who like their lyrics upbeat, and the mood here is way more melancholy than some previous releases (Figure 8, Either/Or). As for me personally, I'd take Smith's anguish over a breezy pop song any day of the week. And Basement is one of those rare gems - an album I can listen to all the way through without skipping a single track. He saved the best till last.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elliott smith delivers beautifully for the final time, 27 Sep 2004
I always hate the idea of downloading an album before it is even released. But when I discovered I could download the last elliott smith album this way, I couldn't resist. And since doing so I have been listening to it constantly. This album is full of contrasts. It has some of his most beautiful melodic whispering gentle songs, and it has the hardest rockers he has ever recorded. Those looking for signs of his pending suicide in his lyrics, don't. This is Elliott Smith remember, and every album he has ever released talks of suicide etc.. I love this album, I really do, and I can't help but feel close to tears at certain moments in it. I won't talk about the songs seperately, they are for you to get what you need from, but as a whole, this is up here in his second tier of excellent albums, with XO, Roman Candle and Figure 8. I honestly don't believe he could ever have surpassed the masterpiece that is Either/Or, but this album has a space of its own, and its very high up. God bless you Elliott.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic gem, 21 Nov 2004
By 
S. Mills (Sussex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Buy this album whilst the great public carries on with their life, head in the clouds unaware of the sheer beauty that was Elliott Smith. Its a rewarding album with great melody that pays repeat listening. Not only are the songs brillantly crafted but the lyrics are fantastic too. The music often has a beautiful but fragile quality to it. I was lucky enough to see him live once and he seemed to be an incredibly humble gentle good person. This reflects in his album(s) - the beauty of "From a basement.." really touches you. This is a priceless album in these days of so many egotistical fame grabbing pretenders and their vast entourages. This abum is the antithesis of that. It is awe inspiring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another awesome record, 13 Nov 2004
By 
I was a little dubious about this release. Almost expecting a stitched together collection of unfinished tracks. But we are talking about an Elliott Smith record. Ive owned this four days and can't stop playing it. This is arguably his best release. It sees an escape form the lush, string-laden but beautiful 'Figure 8', returning to the heavier side of some of his earlier albums. Although every track is great, personal favourites at the moment are 'Coast To Coast' and 'Memory Lane'. The latter contains shocking references to Elliott's hospitalization, but is masked by 'that' voice and a beautifully crafted melody. I feel people are often scared to be confronted with lyrics of this intensity. Good on Elliott for having the guts to write in such a way, and what a shame he is no longer around to share his amazing talent with us all.
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From A Basement On The Hill [VINYL]
From A Basement On The Hill [VINYL] by Elliott Smith (Vinyl - 2012)
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