Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 4

Article by Arthur van Pelt

This week we will present a few more items that caught our attention when it comes to extreme collecting. We will go from video props to another extremely rare vinyl test pressing (after we put the spotlight already on a Filipina “Today” jukebox test pressing last week). And we will close today’s article with a one-of-kind Smashing Pumpkins sampler tape, still owned by the first person that received it.

“Tonight, Tonight” video props

When D’arcy Wretzky, former bass player of Smashing Pumpkins, was having a little garage sale on eBay earlier this year (selling some items like sales awards), she also decided to get rid of some video props from “Tonight, Tonight” in a private sale to an American collector.  These video items had remained in her possession since the video was shot halfway the 1990s.

We are sure the “Tonight, Tonight” song needs no further introduction.  But here are the facts about the props for its video.  Throughout the Mellon Collie world tour in 1996 and early 1997, Smashing Pumpkins almost always played their hit single “Tonight, Tonight” with Georges Melies’s 1902 Voyage to the Moon displayed on the background behind the band.  The single, and the video where these props were used, was released on June 11, 1996.

On the 31st of July, 1996, MTV announced  that the Smashing Pumpkins had received no less than eight MTV Video Music Award nominations, mostly for their video of “Tonight, Tonight”, and were scheduled to perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York on September 4, 1996.  They won all the following awards for the highly regarded video: Best Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction in a Video, Best Art Direction, Best Special Effects in a Video, and Best Cinematography.  On a sidenote, they also won the Best Alternative Video award for “1979”, adding up to a stunning seven MTV awards in one day.  1996 was quite a remarkable year for the Smashing Pumpkins, but we might come back to that in another article.

On a very personal sidenote, in 2009, “Tonight, Tonight” was one of the two songs played inside the municipal office during the wedding ceremony of the writer of this article.  The other one was a Within Temptation song, picked by the bride.

We invite you to go check where these video props appear in the official video for “Tonight, Tonight”.

Now, let’s continue with one of those extremely rare vinyl test pressings again.

“Tristessa” 12” vinyl test pressing from Germany

With a big thanks to SPFC.org, who transcribed  a 2011 interview with Billy Corgan where he said the following about the song “Tristessa”:

“I was very into Jack Kerouac, and I read a little book by Jack Kerouac called Tristessa, which was about a Mexican prostitute.  And although the song’s not about a Mexican prostitute, I thought it was such a cool title for a song – I’ve always like girls’ names in songs.  Always been attracted to that. Um, like “Caroline, No”, that kinda stuff.  So um, I dunno, it’s kinda vague.  I think it’s about an LSD trip, I’m not really sure.  What I like about Tristessa, in hindsight, is it’s probably similar to “Siva” as – “Siva” & “Tristessa” probably more than any other 2 songs on Gish sort of point the way where the Pumpkins are headed, this very electric, kinetic style.  The use of the guitar as almost like, as Eastern instruments, pulling on the strings, & taking them out of tune, & kind of playing with the harmonics of the guitars, & a lot of open strings, & that, whatever, you know.  People used to say, when they’d come see us live, they’d be like, “I can’t believe there’s only 2 guitars playing.”  Because the style we would play, it would almost sound like there were 3 guitars.  And James & I really learned how to do a certain kind of technique that would sort of make the band sound bigger than the other bands that we might be playing with on the bill.  So, “Tristessa” sorta captures that, that technique & that style. And uh, still play it live, still like the song, so – it must not be too bad.” Billy Corgan, Matt Pinfield interview, Nov. 2011

And what SPFC found in the liner notes of the 2011 Gish reissue:

“Lifted from author Jack Kerouac’s book of the same name, written, I think, about a Spanish prostitute.  I see myself not as a whore, but as a mirrored reflection in the feminine creative mind.  I will await the artist within to come out to play.  I call out her name longingly, coyly.  Maybe I know that the artist in me is indeed meant to be a whore?  Our second single this was, re-recorded to try to clarify an earlier version.  In the trade-off something vital gets lost. I won’t even bother to try to make it better, a shrug of ambivalence.  I have already moved on from her.” Billy Corgan, Gish 2011 re-issue liner notes

“Tristessa”, on vinyl, was released in the US in 1990 as a 7” by Sub Pop. ‘Officialy’, it came in 3 different colors;  black, pink and grey.  For anyone who is interested, in 2011 SPfreaks had an interview with Pette Discographies, a discography site specialising in Sub Pop vinyl, about this colorful 7”. Besides that, “Tristessa” was released in the UK, also by Sub Pop, on a black 12” vinyl in a single run of 5,000 copies.

Oddly, the UK 12” was manufactured in Germany, since Glitterhouse Records (note the little stamp on the sleeve of this test pressing), is located in Beverungen, Germany.  Glitterhouse Records is quite famous in Europe for their releases of David Eugene Edwards’ musical vehicles Sixteen Horsepower and Wovenhand.  Their vinyl test pressing for “Tristessa” was found on an eBay auction a few years ago. And for the moment that’s about everything we know of the background of this extremely rare test pressing.

5 Song Demo (sampler tape for Joe Shanahan, owner of Metro Chicago)

In our first episode of this series we declared “We will not be talking about the early 1989 demo tapes however, as dozens of those cassettes are still known to exist.”.  With this statement we meant the demo tapes that Smashing Pumpkins were selling during live shows.  But Smashing Pumpkins (read: Billy Corgan) was also sending free demo, or sampler, tapes around as a marketing tool in the old days.  One of the earliest tapes known that Billy Corgan produced is pictured above.

This picture, as almost all pictures used in this series, is taken from the online collection of Smashing Pumpkins memorabilia on www.SPfreaks.com.  It shows the plastic box with a Maxell UR 90 cassette inside, in the hands of Joe Shanahan.  The 90 minutes cassette is carrying 5 songs only.  What is the further information SPfreaks provide?

“We think it is fair to believe that this “first demo cassette” that Joe Shanahan, owner of the Chicago based venue Metro, received, is dated around September 1988. Smashing Pumpkins had just played in The Avalon the previous month (last 3 songs on the tape) and the same month too, and had just recorded the first 2 songs presented on this tape. Based on this demo tape Joe invited Smashing Pumpkins to do the 1988/10/05 gig, the very first of a long row of gigs in the years after in Metro. Note that Metro was named Cabaret Metro in these days…” 

The five songs on the sampler tape are:

My Eternity 5:40 
There It Goes 5:01 
Screaming (live) 5:21 
Bleed (live) 5:45 
Armed To The Teeth (live) 6:01

The three live tracks are, as said, recorded during a live show in The Avalon on August 10, 1988. It is unknown at the moment where “My Eternity” was recorded, but “There It Goes” was recorded at Billy’s father house, in his home studio around September 1988. It can be found on Mashed Potatoes too, and it was recently officially released on the Pisces Iscariot reissue deluxe box.

It is fair to assume that this one-of-kind tape, currently owned by Joe Shanahan, will most likely not end up with a collector ‘out there’ anytime soon. When it happens, he or she should be willing to pay something in the four figures, we think.

See you again next week. Keep on dreaming, hunting & collecting!

Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 3

Article by Arthur van Pelt

And we’re back with more Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. But it doesn’t stop there…


Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
(Billy Corgan’s test pressing CD set)

When it comes to one-of-a-kind items, this is the real deal.  Created in 1995, it is the earliest known CD pressing of the then-forthcoming new Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  This test pressing of the album, mastered by Howie Weinberg (see also Lull 12” vinyl pressing plates section in the previous episode), was sent to Billy Corgan almost two months prior to the eventual release date.  This was to check the track-listing,  spelling and ordering of the tracks.  As can be seen from a comparison of the released album with the scans above, it was decided that quite a few things should be changed several weeks prior to the official release.  A lot of titles were changed (for example “The Bomb” turned out to be the working title for “Where Boys Fear To Tread”) and “Sleep” (which was renamed “In The Arms Of Sleep”) was moved to Track 4 instead of Track 8 (CD 2).

Billy Corgan gave this CD set to a friend, who later, in around 2001, decided to let it go on eBay. It was sold for approximately $300 to a Dutch collector, where it remains to this day. The current value is probably much higher, considering that a later eBay auction for another rare, although  not unique Mellon Collie CD reached a price of $750 for a single CD from the set.

Siamese Dream 12” vinyl (multicolour)

Most of you will know that the Siamese Dream vinyl album was pressed on black vinyl and in several colour variations.  All the variations we know of, from purple to maroon and orange, are rather uniform, and not as wildly mixed as shown in the picture above.  How did multicolour pressing come into existence?

It was 2002 when a representative of a quite reputable music shop  in the US managed to obtain this multicolour vinyl from a UK pressing-plant employee. This employee “made it for himself on his lunch break or something”, or at least this is what the buyer, from the UK, was told.  Shortly afterwards, one of the representatives of this music shop was flying from the US to London to visit a local record fair, and decided, with the value of the vinyl in mind, to take the train all the way up to Oxford to present the buyer (a University student) with the vinyl in person.

A few months ago however, this UK collector decided it was time to part with (most of) his Smashing Pumpkins memorabilia collection, and the Siamese Dream multicolour vinyl was shipped back to the US where another collector is currently admiring this extremely rare item.

The Aeroplane Flies High prototype box

Prototype box for The Aeroplane Flies High release.  The design was changed for the actual release. The story goes that “apparently Billy left the box, together with the letter and the sample bag, in a dressing room after a Pumpkins show”.  That’s how it came to the collector’s market several years ago, and it was sold on eBay for around $300 – $400.  We are told the current owner is willing to part with it for $5,000.

On Thursday, March 6, 2008, Frank Olinsky, who designed the set back in 1996, released some more sketches for this box on a blog on his website:

The Aeroplane Flies High…

. . . turns left, looks right.

These are some preliminary sketches and snapshots of the Smashing Pumpkins boxed set (1996). The concept (Billy Corgan’s idea) was based on the boxes teenagers used to keep their 45 RPM singles in back in the 50s and 60s.  The box set included 5 CDs and a 44-page booklet.”

As we can see, one of the sketches was used to create the prototype box, but in the end, the design was changed dramatically for the box that became commercially available.

“Today” 7” vinyl jukebox test pressing from the Philippines

Everything that is considered rare comes together in this Smashing Pumpkins item. “Today”, vinyl, test-pressing, jukebox, Philippines -each of these words seems to add $50 to $100 to the value of this extremely rare 7” vinyl single.

The Republic of the Philippines (Filipinas), a group of islands north of Indonesia and south of Taiwan in Southeast Asia, is hardly a major presence in the world of Smashing Pumpkins collections.  Still, this sovereign state has pressed and released several Smashing Pumpkins albums over the years.  Beginning with Gish and continuing through to Adore, every album was released on cassettes.  And starting with Machina/The Machines of God there are also CD pressings from the Philippines for each Smashing Pumpkins albums that followed (with Oceania still to surface).  Even Zwan was honoured with a cassette release for their (only) album Mary Star of the Sea.

For a clue to how rare and extraordinary a Smashing Pumpkins vinyl pressing from the Philippines actually is, we should explain that there was a double A-sided jukebox vinyl pressing for the “Today” single in August 1993.  And when there is a vinyl pressing, there are always a few test pressings.  However, test pressings are extremely hard to come by; they rarely survive and are even less likely to appear on the market.  Generally, they either remain in the pressing plant and get destroyed, or end up being sent around as promo items, and subsequently have a good chance of being destroyed and/or are lost otherwise.  That’s why test pressings are highly sought after items, especially when it comes to vinyl.  This black vinyl jukebox test pressing for “Today” has the text “Today TEST PRESSED” in the run off groove area, and has handwritten “Today” and “Smashing Pumpkins” on a white label on both sides.  How do we know that this is a pressing meant to be played in a jukebox? Because of the large hole in the middle.  Compare this to the rather small hole for a normal turntable.

For anyone who wants to try their luck with vinyl in the Philippines, here is a starting point.  A test pressing is most probably impossible to find, but there are quite possibly a few copies of the “promotional” jukebox “Today” single still to be found…

See you again next week, happy hunting in the meantime!

Revisiting the Live Compilations No 2

Compiled by Arthur van Pelt
Hosting by Alberto 

“We ain’t fuckin’ dead yet!” (1)

Between 2008 and 2010, SPfreaks put together 4 compilations of Smashing Pumpkins live songs and made these available as mp3s. In these months we present a run-down of them. #2 was originally posted on 2009.02.11. For all these live compilations, jewelcase artwork has been created. The artwork is included in the downloads.

The booklets need to be printed @ 240 mm x 120 mm & folded to fit inside a jewelcase. The back inlays need to be printed @ 150 mm x 117,50 mm, then folded 6.5 mm from the sides, to fit inside a jewelcase.

So, another Smashing Pumpkins Live Compilation for the SPfreakies! 23 rocking songs from the period 1988 – 2008, since ‘metal’ was the theme for this compilation. Total running time: 2 hours 19 minutes 10 seconds.

Here are details of each of these songs:

01. C’mon 04:54 1988/00/00 (taken from the Ignoffo tape)
First I choose “6234” to kick off this compilation, as it is a rare early live track, but somehow it didn’t feel right, as it is not that ‘metal’. So from the famous Ignoffo tape I took another rarity that REALLY rocked! It is also known as “C’mon Motherfucker”, do I need to say more? But yes, it was recorded in a studio… well, who cares, right? 

02. Spiteface 05:25 1989/03/16 WZRD-FM Studios, Chicago (US)
 The full recording of this radio show is one of my favourite early recordings. “Spiteface” kicks ass!

03. Godzilla 05:48 1990 unknown venue (taken from Mashed Potatoes) (US)
Smashing Pumpkins played a really rockin’ “Godzilla” quite a few times in the early days, but the version from Mashed Potatoes is one of the best recordings, if you ask me. Couldn’t be missed on this compilation!

04. STP 03:38 1991/11/02 Memorial Auditorium, Burlington (US)
Another early rarity, I wanted it on here badly.

05. Slunk 02:36 1992/01/20 Melkweg, Amsterdam (NL)
Nobody asked for “Slunk”, but it’s one of my favourite early Smashing Pumpkins rockers, so I wanted my ego to be pleased on this compilation, hehehehe…  The recording was done by VPRO Radio, so expect a decent quality MP3.

06. Quiet 03:47 1993/12/01 Palladium, Toronto (CA)
Needs no introduction I guess. Was asked for, say no more.

07. I Am One 07:00 1994/02/26 Astoria Theater, London (UK)
The rant version of “I Am One” couldn’t be missed, although we know it from Earphoria also. But this is the cool MTV recording version, definitely worthwhile a listen!

08. Geek U.S.A. 05:38 1995/10/23 Riviera Theater, Chicago (US)
From the release party of the million selling album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

09. X.Y.U. 10:12 1996/04/15 Arena, Berlin (DE)
10. Bodies 04:03 1996/04/15 Arena, Berlin (DE)
Two metal rockers from a rather decent audience recorded bootie: The Berlin Bullet. Listen to Billy being silly in X.Y.U.!

11. Zero 02:19 1997/01/08 GM Place, Vancouver (CA)
12. Fuck You (An Ode To No One) 05:01 1997/01/08 GM Place, Vancouver (CA)
The GM Place concert is world famous in the Pumpkins community. Couldn’t be missed. I love how they did “Zero” here, with this little extra guitar sound that pops up in the song a few times…

13. Bullet With Butterfly Wings 07:02 1998/05/28 BotaniqueGardens, Brussels (BE)
Live favourite, I had no reason to leave it off this compilation… But I took a little different version, hope you like it!

14. Cash Car Star 03:45 1999/04/21 Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix (US)
It was hard to choose a decent rocker from 1999, as not many concerts were given, let alone recorded. Hope you can agree on my choice!

15. The Everlasting Gaze 03:54 2000/01/07 Cirkus, Stockholm (SE)
16. Rock On 06:04 2000/01/07 Cirkus, Stockholm (SE)
Again two songs from a decent radio recording, and since I like Rock On, I thought I had to add it too…

17. Glamey Glamay 04:08 2000/04/00 (taken from Billy’s Gravity Demos)
I just had to put the rockin’ “Marquis In Spades” on the compilation, but I could only find a studio version, that was called “Glamey Glamay” in the early days. Well, hope you like it, it is a rarity anyway!

18. United States 10:50 2007/06/02 Rock Am Ring Festival, Nurnberg (DE)
The Pumpkins return with a blow in 2007!

19. Superchrist 06:14 2008/02/15 MEN Arena, Manchester (UK)
Couldn’t be missed, right? It rocks, it shows the Pumpkins attitude “don’t want to listen? We’ll make you listen!”. 

20. Speed Kills 05:22 2008/10/31 NewportMusic Hall, Columbus (US)
21. As Rome Burns 03:47 2008/10/31 NewportMusic Hall, Columbus (US)
22. The Sound Of Silence incl. Lil’ Red Riding Hood 09:31 2008/10/31 NewportMusic Hall, Columbus (US)
23. Heavy Metal Machine + Glass’ Theme 15:09 2008/10/31 NewportMusic Hall, Columbus (US)
Four songs from the 20th Anniversary Tour, this should make everybody happy I guess. We start with a metal ballad, then the compilation keeps on rockin’ and rockin’ and rockin’ for another half an hour, almost…

* Blue Öyster Cult cover.
** David Essex cover.
*** Paul Simon and Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs covers.

The download of this compilation can be found here. Enjoy!

(1) The quote is from Billy Corgan again, during “Heavy Metal Machine”, 2008/10/31 Newport Music Hall, Columbus (US)

Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 2

Article by Arthur van Pelt

Let’s continue our journey that we started last week with three more rare Smashing Pumpkins items. Today we will bring you extremely rare vinyl pressing plates, an unknown but official Machina II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern CD release and Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (+ singles) made by a CD pressing plant employee who was obviously toasted.

Lull 12’’ vinyl pressing plates

The Lull EP, with the tracks “Rhinoceros”*, “Blue”, “Slunk” and “Bye June”, is a somewhat unknown Smashing Pumpkins release from 1991.  Produced by Billy Corgan and Butch Vig, it was mastered at Masterdisk Corporation, New York by Howie Weinberg (who, in January 2011, left Masterdisk to open Howie Weinberg Mastering in Los Angeles).  The EP was licensed from Caroline Records, Inc. and distributed by RTM/APT.  We know of a few countries worldwide where the CD release was pressed (UK, US, Japan and Australia), but the 12” black vinyl was only pressed in the UK, and that is where these pressing plates are from.  How they ended up on the streets, we don’t know.  They are the only Smashing Pumpkins vinyl pressing plates we know of that are in private hands.  We know that an American collector obtained them in the 1990s, selling them to a UK collector several years ago.  A few months ago, the plates were sold again to another American collector who had them signed by Billy Corgan, who was “very surprised to see them”.

* “Rhinoceros” is the edited Gish album version.

Machina II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music (Billy Corgan handwritten CD)

Machina II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music
(hereafter referred to as Machina II) is known to have three more or less official CD pressings. There is the Q101 promotional release of 2,000 numbered copies, and there are the (extremely limited!) Virgin US and Virgin UK promotional sets.  So what should we think of the piece pictured above?  It does not receive any mention in the detailed Wikipedia article on Machina II, despite a thorough list of release sources.  However, around 2003, on a record fair in Utrecht, The Netherlands, this rare CD, with its handwritten track-listing, appeared in a box stuffed with second hand CDs. The seller had absolutely no clue what he was holding on to, and the CD, together with a promotional letter from Virgin Schallplatten GmbH, was acquired for a very small amount.

The CD contains all 14 tracks of what is known as CR-04, the Machina II full album, while CR-01 to CR-03, the vinyl EPs that accompanied the Machina II vinyl album, are not included. CR stands for Constantinople Records, and released only these records  and the limited CD Live at the Cabaret Metro 10-5-88, given away at the then-final show at the Metro, Chicago in December, 2000.  The handwriting belongs to Billy Corgan, but it is copied from another source.  The letter from Virgin, Germany, explains (in our translation from the German):

“The setlist [of the German tour] also consists of some tracks from the internet-only album Machina II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music, presented in the media as the “final fuck you” from the Smashing Pumpkins to the band label.  The quote is absolutely not accurate, as Billy Corgan repeatedly expressed to us when we accompanied him on the tour.”

So what is the history of this CD release of Machina II?  While it is presumably not the only one of its kind,  only one copy is known to exist so far!  A further look into the technical details of the tracks on the CD tell us that they are sourced from the vinyl rips that were initially made by Eric Agnew, founder of SPFC.org, one of the most respected Smashing Pumpkins fan sites worldwide.  How do these tracks end up on a Virgin Germany promotional release, together with Billy Corgan’s handwriting?

Machina II  was released on vinyl on September 5, 2000 in a limited run of 25 copies. At the same time, Constantinople Records issued a press release, stating:

 “MACHINA II/the friends and enemies of modern music, the final album from The Smashing Pumpkins, has been released. The album is the companion piece to MACHINA/the machines of God. Both were recorded at the same time, and the new album completes the story of a rock star gone mad.  MACHINA II/the friends and enemies of modern music allows fans to be the record company by distributing the music for free via various fan web sites.  In addition to the album, there are 3 EPs which feature alternate versions of MACHINA songs, as well as outtakes. The band only pressed 25 copies each of four distinct pieces; one 12-inch LP, and three 10-inch EPs. The records are only available on vinyl, each uniquely numbered and signed by hand etching in the out groove.”

Eric Agnew, a close friend of the band, was one of the lucky few to receive one of these vinyl copies, with the instruction to immediately redistribute the songs on the Internet, free of charge. Eric ripped the vinyl on a Sony PS-LX150H turntable and spread the MP3 set as instructed. A little more than a week after the release of Machina II, Smashing Pumpkins continued their farewell tour in Europe, starting with several gigs in Germany.  Agnew joined the band on this part of the tour and brought his set of ripped Machina II songs to Europe.  Billy Corgan used these rips as a gift to Virgin Schallplatten GmbH. As the letter with the cd explains further “It was Corgan himself who – to underline his statement – handed us a Master CD after the last concert in Munchen with precisely that new Internet-only album.  He asked us to copy the album and use it as a so-called “farewell-gift” for our media partners and friends.” And that’s how it went.  Virgin Germany made several copies of the handwritten tracklist, and sent these promotional copies around in October 2000, most presumably in Germany only.  One of the people that received this gift decided to let go of his/her copy, and that’s how it ended up with a CD seller on a Dutch record fair.

Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (Mis-pressed colour CDs)

In general, collectors highly appreciate the existence of mis-pressings.  SPfreaks knows of several of them when it comes to Smashing Pumpkins releases.  One of the most notable are the colour mis-pressings of the CD album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, where the colours of CD1 (Dawn to Dusk) and CD2 (Twilight to Starlight) were switched.  We know of such mis-pressings coming from Canada, Korea and Mexico.  The picture above shows the mis-pressing on top, with the correct colour scheme below.  Rare?  Yes.  One of a kind?  Most probably not.  But certainly worth a mention here, and an obvious focus point when it comes to extreme collecting.

A few singles from the Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness album have a different colour scheme on their CD pressings too. We know of “Thirty-Three”, pictured below, for example. Both of these CDs were pressed in The Netherlands, where the white version was most presumably used for an official release in Thailand, since that is where it was found. The red version is how the “Thirty-Three” CD single was released in the rest of the world in November 1996.


And what to think of this official Korean CD pressing of “Zero”? The single for the song “Zero” was released in April 1996 in the US, Canada and Mexico, but only in August 1996 in the rest of the world. Below, on the left, is visible that the official colour scheme of the “Zero” CD release was somewhat freely interpretated in Korea. The image on the right shows the Dutch CD pressing, as it can be found in many other countries too.


So far for the mis-pressings and (un-?)intended changes in colour schemes of official Smashing Pumpkins CD pressings. Please feel invited to send your findings to TheSPfreaksTeam@gmail.com with a clear description and pics or scans with your story. Meanwhile, see you again next week with more rare Smashing Pumpkins items!

Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 1

Article by Arthur van Pelt

From today onwards, SPfreaks would like to take you on a journey through the rarest of the rare, a trip through the Smashing Pumpkins memorabilia widely considered to have the highest collectability; the ‘one-of-a-kind items’, or at least the almost-one-of-a-kind items, that have appeared during the 25 years of the band’s musical reign.

We will not be talking about the early 1989 demo tapes however, as dozens of those cassettes are still known to exist.  We will not be mentioning Mashed Potatoes (around 10 copies, manufactured by Billy Corgan in late 1994 for his band mates and some close friends) or Machina II – The Friends And Enemies of Modern Music on vinyl (25 copies were pressed and given away for free in September, 2000).  No doubt all these releases are very hard, or even impossible, to come by for any serious Smashing Pumpkins memorabilia collector.  However, they are not ‘one of a kind’ in the true sense of the term.

This series of articles will show you some of the cherished treasures that are the pride and joy of various Smashing Pumpkins memorabilia collections.  They are (almost all) unique as far as we know.  Each item comes from a different background, and therefore, each item has a unique story.  At the same time, we are sure that some of you won’t even know some, or all, of these items are out there! So read on in wonder… And feel free to drool!

Before we start our journey, eternal thanks goes to several collectors worldwide, who happily contributed their stories to this amazing list of rarities.  This inventory does not just contain pictures and stories of unique Smashing Pumpkins items, it also presents the deep and heartfelt emotions experienced by their current owners as they hunted, tracked down and finally obtained these items.  After all, the materialistic value of the item is nothing compared to their love for a one-of-a-kind band called Smashing Pumpkins.

“Cherub Rock” CD Single for BBC DJ Mark Goodier

The album Siamese Dream was released in the UK at the end of July, 1993. Two months prior to the official release, Mark Goodier, a famous BBC Radio 1 DJ, received his own “1 of 1” pressing of “Cherub Rock”, the album’s opening track .  By the way, note the typo on the front cover: 27.5.92 should have read 27.5.93.  Also note that the release date for the “Cherub Rock” single in the UK was presumably postponed from June 21, 1993 to July 13, 1993.  As it was, we tried to contact Mark Goodier to check the history and his usage of this one-of-a-kind CD pressing, but unfortunately, our efforts were to no avail.  Wikipedia notes this about him:

“After progressing through several jobs at stations in Scotland including Radio Clyde in Glasgow and at Metro Radio in the North-East of England, he joined BBC Radio 1 in 1987, beginning a very successful 15 year stint with the station, starting with a 2-hour Saturday night show. Goodier co-presented the Liz & Mark weekend breakfast show, and he quickly progressed to a drive time slot. He created The Evening Session, hosting it from 1990 to 1993. During this period, he also presented the UK Top 40 chart countdown on Sunday evenings and was also an established host on Top Of The Pops along with his Radio 1 colleagues.  Many acclaimed bands and artists recorded sessions for Mark at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, some of which were released.”

The Town House Post Production opened for business in 1978, having previously served as Goldhawk Film Sound Studios where movie soundtracks were presumably dubbed.  Virgin founder Richard Branson decided to buy the business and instructed his team, who had recently rebuilt his Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, to make this place nothing short of superb.  It featured just two studios initially, overseen by a staff of twelve and with renovation costs coming in at close to a million pounds.  After Phil Collins recorded his first solo album “Face Value” there in 1980, the studio received considerably more attention.  Ever wondered how he got that drum sound for “In The Air Tonight”?  Complicated techniques involving bashing the shit out of a drum set in the stone room which was Studio Two.  That’s how.  Between then and the mid 1990s the place flourished with clients such as Stevie Wonder, Prince, Frank Zappa, the Sex Pistols, The Jam, Queen, Elton John (straight after Princess Diana’s funeral no less), Bob Dylan, Oasis and Blur.

For some reason or other, Town House was acquired in 1992 by EMI, who then sold it to the Sanctuary Group in 2002, who renamed it Sanctuary Town House Mastering.  It seems Sanctuary overreached;  the main studios closed in 2006.  Town House briefly reopened a year later, receiving an encouraging flow of great, good, middling or pitiful clientele, but Sanctuary swiftly lost the plot thereafter.  The Universal Music Group came to their aid, paying £45 million for the privilege (and taking on debts of £60 million to buy out Sanctuary).  Not too long afterwards, Universal themselves realised they had made a mistake; they negotiated a break in the lease arrangement with the freeholder and closed Town House for good in March 2008, after 30 years spent (mostly) at the top.  Universal held an auction of all the desirable equipment from Town House a few months later, which made them make back at least ”some” money .  Lately, the buildings have been restored into flats and apartments, and are up for sale for a total of several million pounds.

Amidst all this turmoil, “Cherub Rock” was slightly reworked in May 1993 (the bass is superb!) for Mark Goodier, who could, as we have to presume at this moment, now use the one-of-a-kind CD with its unique version of “Cherub Rock” for playing on the radio and/or at festivals in the UK, before Siamese Dream was released.  The CD has made a little tour around Europe after it first appeared on eBay UK several years ago;  it went from a Danish collector to a Dutch collector where it currently remains.

Live Bercy Promo CD

Not much is known about the Delabel Records label in France.  Part of the Virgin Music Group, it is based in Paris.  Delabel is perhaps best known for releasing the coolest Smashing Pumpkins promo CDs, highly sought after by collectors worldwide.  Examples include, Siamese Dream, Live In Chicago, 1979 Mixes, several Actualites compilations, La Saga Racontée, Adore Attention Evenement! and the Untitled single.  

For this article we put the spotlight on one of them: Live Bercy. This in-house promo CD contains a recording of the October 19, 2000 concert in Paris at the Bercy stadium.  For those who want a look and a listen, we have a YouTube upload of what is an amazing Smashing Pumpkins show.


What can we say about the extremely rare (only one copy known so far) CD set of this concert? Not much, I’m afraid.  It appeared on eBay a few years ago, and after a bidding frenzy it reached an auction price just above the $1,000 mark. Furthermore, we know it is a genuine Delabel release; it contains all the elements that we have found on other Delabel promo CDs from the same era (artwork, stickers, type of CD-R). 

Will further copies of this CD ever surface?  Will the one known copy ever appear on eBay again? 

Only time will tell.

Who are the Girls on the Today Single?

Article by Arthur van Pelt
Additional research by Geo Folkers

Always wondered who are the girls on the infamous Smashing Pumpkins’ Today single? And couldn’t find their names in the liner notes of the release? We wondered too, and we didn’t find their names in the liner notes either, so we tried to find out. And please read on, because we did find out, and we had a little interview with one of them.

It all started with this autographed promo cd for Today.

The relevance of the song Today is clear to any follower of the band Smashing Pumpkins. It is one of the anthems of the grunge era back in the early 1990s. As Wikipedia states it nicely:

“Today” was released in September 1993 as the second single from the band’s second album and major label debut, Siamese Dream. Although Corgan opted for the lead single from the album to be the opening track, “Cherub Rock”, “Today” and its follow-up “Disarm” are credited in Allmusic for popularizing the band and “sending Siamese Dream into the stratosphere.”. “Today” has been generally well received by critics, and in an article about the song in Blender it was described as having “achieved a remarkable status as one of the defining songs of its generation, perfectly mirroring the fractured alienation of American youth in the 1990s.”

And what was the rest of the information to go by?

“1 track promo only CD autographed on p/s by Yingy & Magda (the girls in the picture) and by D’arcy & Billy in 1993, guaranteed authentic or your money back.”

“I had the CD in my own collection for years. I got it from a friend who got the autographs herself at the time. I don’t have the full details but I know for sure that it is authentic.”

Basically, this is all we knew, till recently. This was the information given by a very reputable seller from the US, about this autographed promo cd for Today when it came to the collectors market back in 2009. At a closer look, we indeed notice the signatures of Yingy (presumably the girl on the left on the artwork, she draws an arrow towards herself), D’Arcy Wretzky, Magda (presumably the girl on the right) and Billy Corgan, who added the year 1993 to his autograph. We can find this iconic picture of the two girls on Today’s promo cds, on commercial cassettes, vinyl and cds too, all over the world.

Billy Corgan and D’arcy Wretzky, both band members of Smashing Pumpkins at that time, need no further introduction. But who are Yingy and Magda? For the sake of this article we did some research, and we found the following. The liner notes of the Today singles worldwide, if any, give no clue who are the girls pictured on the front. And here it is starting to get interesting… How to find out who are the two girls?

To cut a long story short, Yingy is the nick used by Jennifer Molly Wretzky (she mostly likes to go by the name Molly, however), who is the younger sister of D’arcy. Tanya Wretzky is the older sister of D’arcy, but Tanya is obviously not on the artwork. It was rumored a few times in the Smashing Pumpkins fan community that both D’arcy her sisters, Molly and Tanya, were presented on the artwork of the Today single, but that information is obviously not correct. So who is Magda? Magda is in fact Magdalena Kijewska.

Let’s meet the girls we just introduced. And let’s see how they are currently doing. Magdalena Kijewska (Magda, left), Jennifer Molly Wretzky (Yingy, middle, photo by Thia Penta) and Tanya Wretzky (right) are pictured above. Magdalena now runs a fulltime business called ‘Magdalena Kijewska Translations’ with well-known companies amongst her customers. Jennifer is a lawyer at Law Offices of Michael L. Tinaglia Ltd. in Rosemont, Illinois, but she is also publicly known for being a derby skater under the nick Ying O’Fire at Windy City Rollers, Chicago, Illinois. Tanya is a horseback riding lessons instructor and equestrian teacher at Willow Tree Equestrian Center in Bangor, Michigan.

Magda was happily surprised when we contacted her with a few questions, and emailed her the picture of the autographed cd. And almost immediately she gave permission to ask her a few questions more.

SPfreaks:
“Dear Magda, we asked around a little, and according to our sources you are one of the girls on the Today single, could you please confirm this?”

Magda:
“Yeah, that would be me on the right, and D’arcy’s youngest sister Ying on the left!”

SPfreaks:
“Is there a reason why you girls were not mentioned in the liner notes of that release? Isn’t that kind of funny?”

Magda:
“Yeah, neither did we ever get any thanks or recognition… That’s how it goes in the music business sometimes… That’s rock ‘n’ roll. Your face all over the world for a moment for nothing.” (laughs)

SPfreaks:
“Could you tell us a bit more about that famous photo?”

Magda:
“It was not long before the release of Today. That photo was taken by our friend Renee Sabbath, she used to study film at Columbia College and it was for her assignment with color. We were at Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, eating oranges and wearing crazy colorful suits from a thrift store. Mine I think even has a price tag on it in the photo!” (laughs again)

SPfreaks:
“We know a few things about the Wretzky family already, but how are you related to them, if we may ask?”

Magda:
“I’m a good friend to the Wretzky family… but hey, I’m sorry, I gotta run now! Thanks for hearing me, send my regards to your readers!”

It was a short interview, but well, we know enough. Thanks Magda! It is our pleasure, and honor,  to finally give a name and a few words to two iconic girls on the artwork of the single of an iconic Smashing Pumpkins song.