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Either / Or

4.8 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 25, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Heart sewn firmly to his sleeve, Elliott continues his tuneful dissection of life & what makes it difficult.

Blessed with the voice of a wispy angel, Elliott Smith creates sad little pop songs, which, like the work of Nick Drake (to whom he's been compared) threaten to disappear into the night air. Several of the tracks here were featured in Gus Van Zant's movie Good Will Hunting, and they're among the album's best (though "Miss Misery," nominated for an Academy Award is only available on the soundtrack album). "Angeles" and "Say Yes" are bittersweet laments that feature Smith's idiosyncratic guitar picking, which is well served by the album's decidedly low-fi production. --Rob O'Connor
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 25, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Kill Rock Stars
  • ASIN: B00000373U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,306 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
As we're bearing down on the relase date for "From a basement on the Hill," I thought it might be time to put in my say concerning this, my favorite album from everyone's favorite Fool on the Hill...

Subtle chord changes, the occasional drums and backing instruments. If you prefer, as I do, stripped down Elliott (the KRS albums) to full on Beatles-orchestration-bandleader Elliott (the Dreamworks) then this is your album. It holds together more cohesively than his previous, self-titled release.

Be that as it may, I think Elliott never put out a perfect release. But his flaws are perfect in their way... Kinda like his buterfly wings voice, so apparently frail on the surface: haunting and fluttering- always on the verge of sounding like he was about to slip off-key... but he never did...

Truth be told- There's a couple of songs on this that I can't stand, skip 'em every time. But the ones that I love (Between the Bars, Alameda, Speed trials, Angeles, Pictures of me, 2:45, The morning after, and especially No Name #6) are all among not only my hands-down Elliott picks but are also some of my most favorite songs, period. 'Between the Bars' alone would be worth this, easily one of the most achingly soulful, sad, sad songs ever to take shape in the human soul.

This stands firmly poised on the precipice, intimating the tempestuous break from KRS and the switch to Dreamworks, right around all that Good Will Hunting madness... The answers may not be forthcoming on the why and how of Mr. Smith's demise. resign yourself to it. We can only guess at the inner workings of this guy- peering in through the windows he's left us. This is my favorite room, looking in.
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By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I have to thank Spin magazine for my purchase of Elliot Smith's Either/Or. I saw the album located as one of the best albums of the 90s and decided to go purchase the album. SPIN WAS COMPLETELY WRONG. This album should have been way farther up than the rating it got. Where have I been? How come I had never heard of Elliot Smith before this? I love every song on this album. Beautiful melodies and flowing intelligent lyrics - Either/Or is one of the most haunting and elegant albums I have ever heard. Speed Trials is glorious and so is Alameda. Ballad of Big Nothing is without a doubt the highlight of the album. Between the Bars, Pictures of Me, No Name No.5, Rose Parade, Punch and Judy, Cupid's Trick, 2:45 AM - all GREAT songs. Say Yes and Angeles are other highlights. Elliot Smith has a ethereal voice and combined with his guitar- creates an experience that can only be heard. I haven't heard XO or his self-titled. But from some people I've talked to - they say XO or the self-titled is better. How can you top this? I can't wait to find out.
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Format: Audio CD
Okay, here's the deal with Elliott Smith. There's nothing new to him. There's nothing he does, be it the Beatlesque melodies, the Arlo Guthrie fingerpicking, the Nick Drake lyrics melding anguish with cynicism-- there is nothing he does that hasn't been done before. That's not the point. Elliott Smith is not a living genius, nor is he destined to change the face of pop music as we know it (if anything, he's destined to remind us of how incredible it can be). But he is a damn good songwriter, and "either/or" is his best record.
Basically, this is a great album. It's not quite as downbeat as the previous "Elliott Smith;" while it gets pretty heavy there's nothing like "Needle In The Hay" to really depress you. Instead, Smith adopts sort of a sly sense of humor on some of his songs, particularly "Rose Parade," which when viewed in one light is absolutely hysterical. He also seems to be viewing love a little more on the bright side, in "Say Yes" (though even that has an unfortunate, but perfectly natural spin). The melodies are all very simple, usually repeated two-bar phrases before the chorus, but they're great melodies, showcasing Smith's delicate tenor, and also focusing attention to the lyrics (no small feat, especially when he practically whispers half his lines).
The best moments are when Smith lets his guard down a little, like "Between The Bars," or "Cupid's Trick." Other than the Penny Lane shuffle of "Pictures Of Me" and the mild stroll of "Ballad Of Big Nothing," the album is quite low-key. No big surprises, no gallant orchestras, just some great songs.
And all in all, this is one of my all-time favorite records.
Read more ›
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By A Customer on November 20, 2001
Format: Audio CD
First, this album is a work of genius.
Second, here is why you should buy it. "Either/Or" is Elliot's 3rd solo release, following 3 albums and several EPs with the Portland indie/grunge band Heatmiser. I can't speak for "roman candle" or "Elliot Smith," but i can tell you about this album...which is one of the best i have ever heard.
As several other reviews said, this album has an ethereal, acoustic sound, best compared to Simon and Garfunkel or Nick Drake. The songs - short, but beautiful - are vintage Elliot, with moody, depressing lyrics generally about the girl who got away - and why it's his own fault. "Nobody broke your broke your own cuz you can't finish what you start," he chants over and over on "Alameda." Elliot utilizes both complex, Dylanesque lines along with simple, powerful phrases like the chorus of "Ballad of Big Nothing" to create truly moving songs...and if that's not enough, Elliot is a fine singer.
The highlight of many songs is the vocal melody, especially on the bright "Rose Parade." Elliot's trademarke guitar work is here, of course - his pick/strum chord-oriented songs comprise the bulk of the album. The music stands on it's own, yet creates a suberb backing for Elliot's singing and lyrics. This is one of his best albums, and i would consider it stronger than XO, which has been more universally acclaimed (even by this website!). A few standout tracks - of course, the songs from Good Will Hunting... "Ballad of Big Nothing" "Say Yes" and "Between the Bars." The entire album is great, however, with not a single weak track.
You should pick this one up - everyone should give "Either/Or" a chance, because someday it will stand as one of the finest albums produced during the 1990's...and maybe ever.
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