One week ago, Editors released their new greatest hits compilation, Black Gold: Best Of Editors. Fans who ordered CD on vinyl options from Editors’ official store also got a special treat: The Snowfield Demos. Back before Editors even went by that name, they were briefly known as Snowfield. In summer 2003, they put out an EP of demos. The Snowfield Demos have been floating around the internet for years. They included 6 songs, all of which were later rerecorded and released within The Back Room or An End Has A Start eras.
This is the first time Editors have made The Snowfield Demos widely available since its initial release. Of course, fans everywhere – myself included! – were excited to get an official release of them. However, this CD includes not 6, but 8 songs. In addition to the original 6 we already knew about, Editors also added “Release” and “Forest Fire” to the end. In the case of the latter, it’s a recording we’ve never heard before.
To celebrate the updated release of The Snowfield Demos, let’s dive into a track-by-track review of the 8 songs.
Track by Track
“Bullets” – The Snowfield Demos EP opens with “Bullets,” the song that later went on to become Editors’ very first single. But in contrast to the version we know from The Back Room, this 2003 recording has a fuller sound thanks to extra acoustic guitar. Chris Urbanowicz amplifies the verses with some extra guitar detailing, making the song sweeter. Frontman Tom Smith’s voice is also sweeter on the verses here. But perhaps biggest difference between this demo and the final studio version is the bridge. When Tom sings “would you fall down,” the vocal effects make it stand out from the rest of the song. He returns to the chorus, singing in a whisper at first before growing more emphatic again. In spite of all these differences, though, this 2003 version of “Bullets” races ahead with same chaotic energy that made their 2005 single so infectious.
“Come Share The View” – Although it didn’t appear on The Back Room, “Come Share The View” was a b-side of the debut era, appearing on the “Bullets” and “All Sparks” CD singles. The b-side recording opened with drums, a fuzzy bass accompanying Tom’s first vocals before guitars punctuated the lines. Here, “Come Share The View” opens directly with the verse, acoustic guitar guiding the sound. The song moves with the same relentless groove here, and despite differences in instrumentation, it holds true to what it would later become.
“Every Little Piece Of Your Life” – The only song from The Snowfield Demos that wasn’t released within the Back Room era was this one. However, by the time Editors officially released it in 2007, “Every Little Piece Of Your Life” went by a new name: “The Weight Of The World,” track three of An End Has A Start. And of all the songs on The Snowfield Demos, it sounds the most distinct from its final version.
“Every Little Piece Of Your Life” is more energetic and upbeat than “The Weight Of The World,” fitting with the young band’s early discography. Equally noticeable is the absence of key lyrics here. This demo features the first verse and chorus as we know them, but the second verse heard in “The Weight Of The World” was apparently not yet written. Instead, the second verse of “Every Little Piece Of Your Life” repeats the lyrics of verse one. Similarly, the bridge in the 2003 demo features different lyrics from its 2007 counterpart. Here, Tom sings, “I’m not sure I’ve seen this place before / I’m not sure I’ve seen this face before,” a contrast to the later bridge: “You touch my face / God whispers in my ears / There are tears in my eyes / Love replaces fear.”
Beyond its distinct title, “Every Little Piece Of Your Life” does sound like a different song than “The Weight Of The World.” This is a wonderful version that gives a new perspective to the beloved An End Has A Start track.
“Fall” – Next up is “Fall,” which was the fourth song on The Back Room. This earlier demo is quite similar, though with a more prominent beat than the later version of the ballad. Tom’s singing and the backing vocals are nearly identical. Indeed, this demo is equally as poignant and captivating as the album recording. By the song’s end, we get to the screeching guitars that really take the track to the next level. They’re not quite as dramatic as on The Back Room, but they still have the right effect. Overall, this demo shows that Editors – ahem, Snowfield – got “Fall” right from the beginning. Why mess with perfection?
Along with this Snowfields Demo of “Fall,” Editors also shared a brand new acoustic recording of the song. It appears on the deluxe edition bonus disc of Black Gold: Best Of Editors. Head over to our review of Distance: The Acoustic Recordings to hear it.
“The Diplomat” – A highlight on The Snowfield Demos, “The Diplomat” wasn’t even included on The Back Room. However, the “All Sparks” CD single did feature it as a b-side. In the 2005 recording, “The Diplomat” opened with an organ. Then the verse featured a drum beat and bass line to accompany Tom’s lyrics. In this earlier version, the song jumps right into a full band, layers of guitar filling out the sound of the verses. This 2003 demo sounds a bit more upbeat and cheery, if not quite as dynamic. All in all, though, the Snowfield Demos version of “The Diplomat” maintains the same arrangement and vocal delivery, making it an easy comparison to its later form.
“Distance” – We get another ballad with “Distance,” best known as the closing track on The Back Room. Over piano, Tom sings more softly here than on the 2005 version. His voice is wispier, matching the tender lyrics of the verses. The chorus still features Tom’s angelic promise to be “here,” but it adds extra flavor to the mix with Chris’s winding guitar melody. It gives the chorus a notably different mood than on The Back Room. This version of “Distance” still sounds lovely, though it improved by the time Editors included it on The Back Room two years later.
Along with this Snowfields Demo of “Distance,” Editors also shared a brand new acoustic recording of the ballad. It appears on the deluxe edition bonus disc of Black Gold: Best Of Editors. Head over to our review of Distance: The Acoustic Recordings to hear it.
“Release” – According to fan sites and Wikipedia alike, the original Snowfield Demos EP released in 2003 only included 6 songs. This 2019 release features two extras, starting with “Release.” However, fans familiar with Editors’ discography will immediately notice that this recording is exactly the same as that heard on The Back Room: Cuttings. Indeed, upon further analysis, this track doesn’t sound like it was recorded at the same time, or with the same production, as the rest of the Snowfield Demos tracks. The inclusion of “Release” here does add a new bit of mystery! Why is it on the 2019 release of The Snowfield Demos? Was it not recorded during the Back Room sessions in 2004-2005? So many questions…
In any case, “Release” remains one of Editors’ best songs – in my humble opinion, at least – and even though it only appeared on the Cuttings bonus disc, it’s a highlight of The Back Room and Editors’ full discography.
“Forest Fire” – Along with “Release,” “Forest Fire” wasn’t on the initial 2003 Snowfield Demos EP. At least, if the internet is to be believed. However, unlike “Release,” we already know “Forest Fire” to be one of Editors’ earlier compositions, and this recording does sound like it fits in with the rest of the tracks. The recording style matches, and this version is distinct from the one we know from The Back Room: Cuttings.
This version of “Forest Fire” is quite different from the later recording, though it maintains the same vibe. The extended intro is the same melody, but it lacks the extra synth production heard in 2005. Instead, it sounds raw and folksy, lending it more melancholy mood. Instead of growing, like “Forest Fire” does on The Back Room: Cuttings, here it continues the slow, sad beat. By the song’s ending motif, it grows more sparse, in contrast to the additional details heard in 2005. It’s a simpler recording, and a full minute longer, but it shows how much “Forest Fire” grew in just two years.
You can stream or purchase Black Gold: Best Of Editors from all the major music providers here. Be sure to check out the deluxe edition so you can hear Distance: The Acoustic Recordings.
For additional intrigue, ordering the album from Editors’ official site will get you a bonus 8-track CD of The Snowfield Demos. They’re still available now, so purchase them while you can!