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.