Article by Arthur van Pelt
Additional research by Geo Folkers
Last week we ended in Mexico. We will head back there now to look at an Adore-era live promo CD. Afterwards, we will journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom to take a look at a rare set of remixes of the Adore singles, “Ava Adore” and “Perfect”.
En Concierto en Mexico (limited Mexican-radio promo CD)
This is another Mexican promotional release, which is said to have been released in a very low quantity – only 10 examples (according to one source; read his story below), or 30 (according to another source, some 10 years ago). It appeared on eBay a few times several years ago, and at auction, it reached prices over $1,500. Not even the Machina II / The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music 4CD acetate set from Virgin US (which is pressed in an even lower quantity than En Concierto en Mexico) has ever reached such prices in auction. This Mexican promotional radio CD contains four songs from the Smashing Pumpkins show at Palacio de los Deportes, Mexico City, on August 11, 1998. The tracks are “To Sheila”, “Behold! The Night Mare”, “Pug” and “Ava Adore”. Our conclusion: it is rare as hell, and although it is not unique, it is highly sought. It is the most expensive Smashing Pumpkins CD release we know of so far. Some call it “a mythical release”; others call it “the holy grail of Smashing Pumpkins collecting”.
Last month, we were contacted by a Smashing Pumpkins collector who stated the following:
“There seems to be some confusion on your site about the En Concierto en Mexico release. There are not two versions; the only true version is the Gold Kodak CD-R with the EMI stamp. The silver CD-R version that you all have listed is not real, it is a fake. This is why the back insert is noticeably different. The forger took a close up of another part of the Adore album front cover, and placed the radio logo on top, adding the Virgin and Hut stamps to make it look more authentic, before putting it up for sale on ebay. I actually had the name of the forger at one point after he was traced back through his eBay auctions.
Additionally, there are not 30 copies of the genuine En Concierto En Mexico; there are only 10. It was handed out as a gift to radio station employees for promoting the concert. Other than a one of kind Siamese Dream multi-colored vinyl pressing, En Concierto En Mexico is the rarest of all official Pumpkins releases.
En Concierto en Mexico was the one item that always eluded me. There are only a few extremely rare items I have ever failed to own, but it was the only one that simply could not be found. For a short while I became obsessed with it. It was so hard to find that at one point, I was even convinced it was just a myth. I went through a great deal of trouble and effort to authenticate its existence. I spoke to management at EMI at one point; a friend of mine even visited the radio station and spoke with several employees when he was on vacation in Mexico. I even attempted to find the item once through some associates that worked at Universal South with connection to Virgin Records management.
Ultimately, the radio station confirmed the ten copies given out as prizes to employees; I do not know how they were given out (raffle, seniority, etc.). It is possible that a few of the copies were given out as radio prizes to the public. However, I am certain of the number of copies. EMI confirmed the authenticity of the item, stating that it was a legitimate release and that the gold Kodak CD-R was in fact genuine. Virgin had little input other than to agree to the use of the Adore artwork, though this was told to me from memory and was not documented – Virgin basically didn’t know anything about the release.
So, that’s the story. No official documentation; just an extensive search for what might as well have been the Holy Grail. I did actually find the CD online once, receiving pictures from an anonymous person. But, of course, once he realised what he had, this person changed his mind and disappeared into oblivion. Keep in mind that all this happened twelve or more years ago, so it’s very unlikely that anyone that worked at that radio station is still there. That’s the biggest problem with this release – it is so rare that it doesn’t seem legitimate and it’s possible that several people just threw it away thinking it was nothing. I sold my collection back in ’04/’05 but have continued to keep an eye out for this particular item.
For what it’s worth, in all my seventeen plus years of collecting the Smashing Pumpkins, I have only seen it once; it is very likely that only a few copies may be left. In my opinion, it’s rarer than any of the early cassette demos. If people actually knew of the existence of En Concierto en Mexico, there is no way to tell how much it might be worth.”
(Disclaimer: since we have not yet double-checked this story with previous or current owners of this release (they are really hard to find!), we cannot yet confirm these claims. We hope to have confirmation soon. Also, upon hearing these claims, we immediately updated the online collection entry for this item. We too felt uncertain about its authenticity.)
This article contributes to an existing discussion on our forums about this truly rare release. We also would like to invite you, as always, to send your findings and experiences via email to TheSPfreaksTeam.
Remixes (Hut Recordings UK: in-house reference CD)
At a first, superficial, glance this looks like a label’s in-house promo. These pop up on the market every now and then. Most of the time, nothing interesting can be found on them, since they (almost) always contain tracks that have been released commercially. Not in this case however… This is not just the only known copy of this CD, it is also stuffed with unreleased material from the Smashing Pumpkins’ remixing vault.
On a second, more thorough glance, you can start to realise what is going on. On this Hut Recordings CD from the UK, the much-rumoured yet never-released “Ava Adore” mixes by Puff Daddy (a.k.a. Puffy) make an appearance. It took a stunning 13 years to finally confirm the existence of these tracks. What was the history behind the Puffy remixes?
In this Billboard magazine article, dated January 16, 1999, it was announced that Sean “Puffy” Combs had booked several studios for various projects, including a remix of the Smashing Pumpkins’ song “Ava Adore”. This was all taking place in the fall of 1998 (note that the CD was manufactured in Summer 1998, as the last line states “Copied From CDR 13.07.98”).
The remixed track has not yet seen the light of day. And for a long time, this left a question of whether the “Ava Adore” project was actually followed through on. Was it cancelled somewhere down the road? Did Sean “Puffy” Combs call it quits halfway the project? Or did Billy Corgan decide not to approve the mix(es)? Were they deleted or otherwise destroyed in the studio? Or were they put on the studio shelves somewhere? We now know the latter to be true, thanks to the existence of this reference CD with the four different “Ava Adore”mixes.
Note that there are two mixes for “Perfect” by Sean “Puffy” Combs on the CD too. They have not yet been commercially released. We already knew about the “Perfect” remixes for a while; they were found on this extremely rare Virgin acetate CD (which also contains a third mix by Puff Daddy for “Perfect”).
A year ago, Billy Corgan alluded to (one of) the Puffy remix(es) for “Ava Adore” on Twitter . He tweeted about listening to the “Ava Adore” Puffy remix on December 17, 2011. We don’t know which one of the four remixes on the CD this was. Maybe the one that is ‘Puffy’s choice’? Or maybe Corgan is just as unaware of the four different mixes as we were?
It is currently unclear whether any of the Sean “Puffy” Combs remixes for “Ava Adore” and “Perfect” are going to be released as (a) bonus track(s) with the Adore album reissue in 2013. If we understand Corgan’s reference, we have to conclude there is one high on the list of options. And we hope they will be released, because they sound freakin’ awesome…
See you again next year with more episodes, have a happy and peaceful Christmas and a rockin’ New Year in the meantime!