Former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty shared three previously unreleased and unusually dancey Elliott Smith recordings on his SoundCloud today. He said on Facebook that Smith recorded the tracks in 1998 “to be sliced/diced over beats,” and, as Smith wished, put the vocals over his own EDM recordings under his UUL project guise.
The tracks find Smith’s typically smooth voice working its way in and around heavy electro beats. On “The Record,” Smith references Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover” in lyrics that would become his song “Bottle Up and Explode.” And on “Burn (Aah Fuck),” Doughty plays up Smith’s predilection for everyone’s favorite four-letter word. “Should I keep going or roll back?” he asks after exclaiming the titular expletive. Finally, on “Dogs,” he sings about how it’s a “dog house when the people die.”
Doughty told Pitchfork that Smith had recorded the tracks a capella at the same time he was working on the soundtrack to Good Will Hunting. He rediscovered the tape last November. “I just wanted to do something with him. I didn’t wanna do something – you know, a rock collaboration would always end up just somebody doing a backing vocal. . . ” he said prior to the release of these tracks. “So we sat in down in front of [a microphone] and he sang two songs, and the idea was I was gonna figure something to do over it and I didn’t have anything good, but I have these a cappella versions.”