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!

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5 responses to “Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 3

  1. Pingback: Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 4 | The SPfreaks Team

  2. Pingback: Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 6 | The SPfreaks Team

  3. Pingback: The Aeroplane Flies High (Zero Left, Looks Right) | The SPfreaks Team

  4. Pingback: Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 10 | The SPfreaks Team

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