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Boomkat Product Review:
As the title probably suggests, An Introduction to Elliott Smith is a career-spanning best-of compilation designed as an overview of the music of Elliott Smith, truly one of the very greatest songwriters of our age. It's been seven years since Smith's tragic passing, and this release (quite rightly) strives to keep his legacy alive. The album's title seems apt, because this is definitely a package geared at listeners taking their first swipe at Smith's catalogue, delivering 'the hits' in a manner of speaking, by paying particular attention to the Either/Or period ('Angeles', 'Between The Bars' and 'Ballad Of Big Nothing') which marked a surge in mainstream recognition of his work - thanks in part to several recordings featuring heavily on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack. Perhaps surprisingly, however, the best-known song from that era - the Oscar-nominated 'Miss Misery' - is represented here only in the form of the early, demo version with alternate lyrics that appeared on the posthumous New Moon collection. In general terms, the disc boasts a decent balance between the piercing introspection of Smith's early, lo-fi work ('Needle In The Hay' in particular remains utterly devastating) and the bigger productions that would come later ('Pretty (Ugly Before)' and 'Happiness (Single Version)', yet something that's sure to get Smith fans scratching their heads is the scant inclusion of XO tracks; only 'Waltz #2 (XO)' from that album makes the cut, which seems a great shame, although the aforementioned song itself is a fine representative of the record, arguably representing Smith's most immediate and polished pop song. Inevitably the track selection will be picked over and disputed by fans, but An Introduction To... does a fine job of highlighting a few key moments from a career that had too many to be properly represented by any single release.