Siamese Dream Limited Edition Wooden Box

Article by Geo Folkers

Considered by many to be one of the best albums ever made, The Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream was released on July 27, 1993 on Virgin Records. The album has sold over 6 million copies worldwide and continues to influence many bands and dreamers alike.

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During 1995-1996, a limited edition Siamese Dream wooden box appeared on the market. The box was limited to 1000 copies and was sold at Tower Records in Chicago, amongst other record shops. The item was a big hit, with eBay auctions routinely selling in the $400 range; for hard core collectors it was a “must have”.

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In the French booklet, Chroniques d’Un Monument, even a Virgin Records subsidiary, Delabel, considers the box an official US release! This incorrect categorization is shown in the picture above.

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Despite the craze, there were questions surrounding its authenticity. The box contained an official copy of either the US or Netherlands CD. It also housed an official Siamese Dream 4 or 20 page booklet; however, there were reports of the box being sold without the CD and booklet. It was rumored to have stamped, reproduction autographs of the band as well, but those have never surfaced. Questions about different colored hardware and a dubious barcode were also red flags.

Not knowing any other resource to find an answer, I decided to ask the only person I thought might know something about this: Mr. William Patrick Corgan. He said he had seen the Siamese Dream box years ago at a record store and said, “It’s definitely a bootleg.”

So there you have it! Case closed! And if there should remain any doubt, Billy Corgan himself has signed my copy below to put an end to any controversy.

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Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 10

Article by Arthur van Pelt and Vaughn Bayley

We have reached episode 10 of this series focusing on the rare and unique.  Still enjoying it, dear readers?  Because we are!  There is so much to find in the worldwide memorabilia archives of Smashing Pumpkins, it is almost unbelievable.  And when it comes to describing it and giving it context in the musical history of an alternative rock band that has already been around for 25 years, it is a great honor.  Wait!  Did we say 25 years?  We did, didn’t we?  Why didn’t we see a celebration of that remarkable feat?  How many bands can say they have reached their 25th Anniversary?  Hmmm…  Or maybe neither the band nor its management has read the article about the founding year of Smashing Pumpkins yet?

Either way, today we are checking out another Smashing Pumpkins CD album (anyone remember Gish two weeks ago?), on the basis of its test pressing.  But before we go there, we are going to take a gander at a French live promo CD from 1995 called Live in Chicago 23.10.95.  This promo itself is undoubtedly very rare (it came with a limited batch of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness CDs in France only), but its acetate is even more so;  thus far we have only seen 2 or 3 copies enter the collectors’ market.  But first of all, here is an image of the standard promo. This will surely make a lot of collectors drool, right?

Live In Chicago (promo)

And not without reason; this French cardsleeve promo, which contains five live songs, is highly sought after.  It hardly ever gets listed on eBay these days, so the prices soar when it does make an appearance.  What does this mean for its acetate, the in-house promo pressing pictured below, that was manufactured by Hut Recordings in the United Kingdom?

Live In Chicago (acetate)

Both the French promo CD and the UK acetate CD of Live in Chicago 23.10.1995 (note that the date is not mentioned on the Hut Recordings pressing) contain five of the six opening tracks of the October 23, 1995 concert in the Riviera Theater, Chicago (IL).

Why was it decided that this exact Chicago concert should be used for a promotional CD that was added to the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness release?  First, Chicago is the home base of Smashing Pumpkins.  Secondly, the date of the concert; October 23, 1995 was the release date of the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album.  Finally, the opening of the concert gave the band access to some of the Smashing Pumpkins biggest hit singles, and three of the five songs included on the promo are to be found on the album; “Tonight, Tonight”, “Zero” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”.  Note that all three of these songs became singles for the album in 1995 and 1996, starting with “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” when the album was released! 

The recording lacks one of the first six songs played at the concert.  Also a track from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, “Jellybelly” was played as the second song at the concert, but was left off this promo.  And of course, we can’t help but wonder why.  Was it something as simple as difficulties with the recording?  Or are there deeper mechanisms at work.  We know that Billy Corgan had originally considered “Jellybelly” as a first-release single for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, believing it was more typical Smashing Pumpkins fare than “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”.  Could it be that “Jellybelly” does not appear on the live CD as a sign of commitment to “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”?  While we can’t be certain, this is our best guess.

It is not very likely that the acetate pressing of Live in Chicago 23.10.1995 will hit the market very often, because of its extreme rarity. When it does however, expect it to be very expensive; we have seen it go at auction for several hundreds of US dollars.

Adore (US test-pressing)

We have already discussed several test pressings (“Tristessa” on vinyl, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and “Untitled” on CD, among others).  But we also know about a test pressing CD for the Adore album, pictured above.

For an in-depth article about the Adore album, we would like to refer you to Wikipedia.  What is noteworthy about this Smashing Pumpkins album, is the number of people who collaborated with the band to create it.  For example, because Jimmy Chamberlin had left the band in 1996, and no appropriate replacement was found in the meantime, three drummers were used in finalizing the album.  Joey Waronker can be heard on “Perfect”, “Once Upon a Time” and “Pug”.  Matt Cameron drummed his way through “For Martha”, and Matt Walker is known to have performed the percussions on “To Sheila”, “Ava Adore”, “Daphne Descends”, “Tear”, “The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete”, “Annie-Dog”, and “Behold! The Night Mare”.  On top of this, brothers Dennis and Jimmy Flemion of The Frogs, who are known to have worked with Smashing Pumpkins on many occasions before, can be found doing additional vocals on two songs: “To Sheila” and “Behold! The Night Mare”.  These are only a few of the people that collaborated with the band, consisting, at the time, of D’Arcy Wretzky, James Iha and Billy Corgan.

What Wikipedia does not mention however (nor does any other online source dedicated to the Smashing Pumpkins), is the fact that the Adore album was the first Smashing Pumpkins album where, in different countries worldwide, several types of more or less non-standard ‘goodies’ were added to its commercial release.

Before the release of Adore, the most common promotional item to add to a Smashing Pumpkins album release was a long box (Gish in the US), one or two bonus tracks (“Pissant” on Siamese Dream in Japan, “Not Worth Asking” and “Honeyspider II” on a 7”, added to the Pisces Iscariot 12” vinyl in the US) or a sticker, as came with Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in a few countries. Only one promotional item really stands out in this pre-Adore era: Earphoria. Earphoria is a very limited promotional CD that was delivered as a soundtrack to the video release of Vieuphoria in October 1994. Note that Pisces Iscariot was released at the same time, and in December 2002, Vieuphoria was reissued on DVD and Earphoria was finally given a commercial release. To Earphoria, we could (and probably should) dedicate a sole article in future…

Adore Taiwan (front)

With Adore, the Smashing Pumpkins marketing machine came up with even more promotional items. In Japan, Tower Records added a special Adore canvas bag to pack the album.  In Taiwan, the CD album (still packed in a jewelcase with the initial black and white Adore artwork) came in a special cardboard sleeve with stunning artwork in color. It is pictured above.  Collectors will find it interesting that this Taiwan-only cardboard sleeve contains a few flaws: the track “Perfect” is not mentioned (but still found on the CD), and “Blank Page” is mistakenly written as “Black Page”.  At the same time, in Hong Kong, a bonus video CD with “Ava Adore” and “Perfect” was used to increase the sales of the album.  And adding bonus items to an album became even more of a tradition with Machina / The Machines of God; a snakeskin bag with an extra booklet in France, a Machina-style black mug in Singapore, a black textile badge in The Netherlands, Belgium and France, and for a short time, a bonus five-track EP called Still Becoming Apart (which included 4 previously unreleased tracks) in the US.

To be honest, however, there is nothing really special about the test pressing CD for the Smashing Pumpkins Adore album (except for it being unique, of course), since it contains the same songs that were commercially released.  So far, we have no clue whether it ever went into the hands of the band, let alone whether Billy Corgan (who, in the end, approves the Smashing Pumpkins’ releases) ever saw this test pressing on his desk.  However, we can say that the song “Tear (flat 1630)” is most probably the same recording and mix as the song “Tear” that was put on the commercial release of Adore two months later.  This will hopefully be researched sometime soon though.

Dear readers and fans of this ‘extreme collecting’ series, this series is off on a holiday for a little over a month. We hope to return with even more rare Smashing Pumpkins memorabilia in March.  See you then, and in the  meantime: happy hunting, happy collecting!

For Those Who Didn’t Buy (yet) Siamese Dream Deluxe

Review by Jeff Becker from The Way That He Sings

Other Smashing Pumpkins reviews:

The Smashing Pumpkins – live in St. Louis – October 18, 2012

The Smashing Pumpkins – live in Milwaukee – Sept 30, 2012

Oceania album

The Smashing Pumpkins -live in Milwaukee in 2011

Article on the brief Machina 2 sale last year on eBay

Please Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheWayThatHeSings

The overall release of Siamese Dream Deluxe is scored a 10/10

01. SD Deluxe review

 

CD1 – the original album

By 2013 it’s hard to find new words when discussing one landmark album that’s in a very tiny handful of the best rock albums of the 90’s.   If Nirvana’s opening chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hadn’t grasped the entire nation the world would look back upon Siamese Dream (along with Pearl Jam’s Ten) as the signature albums that represented grunge at its peak and said an overdue goodbye (and door slam) to the glam rock era of the late 80’s (Whitesnake, Poison, etc).

Siamese Dream is as powerful now as it was in 1993 with no band since then able to replicate the wall of guitar sound that Corgan and producer Butch Vig pulled together.  While playing the remastered version of the album what’s now most striking (when compared to albums such as Zeitgeist) is how Corgan was able to incorporate so many hooks into an album that had guitars coming at you from every conceivable angle.  Who had time for melody?   Well, Corgan did, and if you strip away the volume of guitars what you have are tiny pop gems that are almost nursery rhymes in their primal form – but reworked to set a landscape of sound that is still unmatched.  Recent day impersonators (the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Amusement Parks on Fire) bleed out Siamese Dream in every track but don’t even scratch the surface of songs that leak melody like ‘Mayonaise’, ‘Hummer’ and ‘Luna’.

This deluxe reissue is a tour de force with top notch packaging, a full disc of Siamese-era rarities, and an outstanding DVD of a hometown performance from 1993.   This album, along with Nevermind and The Bends may stand as the top three rock albums in the first half of the 90’s.   What’s interesting is the direction that the Pumpkins took after 1993.  As they prepped Mellon Collie, Nirvana self-destructed in the most tangible method possible and Pearl Jam decided to just get too strange for their fans.  This left bands like the Pumpkins and Radiohead as the unofficial greatest bands in the world as the decade came to a close.  Unfortunately for the Pumpkins, the dysfunction of the mid-90’s took its toll, but not before a series of remarkable albums (none better than Siamese Dream) became etched into our memory.

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CD2 – unreleased material

1      Pissant (Rough Mix)  – Skip it.  Very close to the original version.

2      Siamese Dream (Broadway rehearsal demo) – Must own.  Intense, more garage-based jam than anything on the original album.

3      STP (rehearsal demo) – Must own.  Another heavy, intense garage style demo with Billy’s vocals buried deeper than normal in the mix.

4      Frail and Bedazzled (Soundworks demo) – Nice to have.  Slightly longer but overall similar version (albeit instrumental) to the original.

5      Luna (apartment demo) – Must own.  Lovely, and more sparse version than the original in pristine quality.

6      Quiet (BBC Session) (Billy Corgan 2011 mix) – Must own.  Wouldn’t any high quality alternate version of the rocker be a must have?  Absolutely.

7      Moleasskiss (Soundworks demo) – Must own.   Fine Siamese outtake and clearly shows the wide gap between Siamese-era demos and the work that went into the finished original album that was so clean you could eat off of it.

8      Hello Kitty Kat (Soundworks demo) – Must own.  Pumpkins lore rates this track higher than I do – great quality nonetheless and similar in style to the other outtakes presented here.

9      Today (Broadway rehearsal demo) – Nice to have.  Mostly an early demo version of the classic, but it’s more interesting than enjoyable.  Like why would anyone ever play this more than 3x when the original version should be in the Smithsonian?

10    Never Let Me Down Again (BBC session) – Must own.  Sexier, groovier track than nearly anything in this timeframe.

11    Apathy’s Last Kiss (Rough Mix) – Skip.  Great track but similar to the version on Still Becoming Apart.

12    Ache (Silverfuck/rehearsal demo) – Nice to have early demo version of Silverfuck.  On the borderline of being a must have but not quite.

13    U.S.A (Soundworks demo)  – Must own.  Sounds like more Gish to me but very high quality and high-driving instrumental demo.

14    U.S.S.R. (Soundworks demo) – Nice to have.  Brief, high quality below-average instrumental when compared to the other instrumentals on these reissues.

15    Spaceboy (acoustic mix) – Nice to have.  Acoustic mix with what appears to be the original vocal track.  Nothing groundbreaking here on this classic and beautiful song.

16    Rocket (rehearsal demo) – Must own.  Nice early rehearsal in decent quality but the guitar melody hooks were already in place.  Once again, demos like this truly showcase the shine of the original’s album versions.

17    Disarm (acoustic mix) – Same comments as above regarding Spaceboy.

18    Soma (instrumental mix) – Nice to have.  Instrumental track from the original.   Reminds you how beautiful of a track this is and is somewhat a staple of the nursery-rhyme style melodies that Corgan incorporated in the first three Pumpkins albums.

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DVD – August 16, 1993 at the Metro, Chicago – live performance

1. Rocket (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

2. Quiet (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

3. Today (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

4. Rhinoceros (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

5. Geek U.S.A. (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

6. Soma (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

7. I am one (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

8. Disarm (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

9. Spaceboy (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

10. Starla (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

11. Cherub rock (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

12. Bury me (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

13. Hummer (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

14. Siva (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

15. Mayonaise (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

16. Drown (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

17. Silverfuck (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]

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This is the kind of DVD fans should expect.  Outstanding quality and captured during a pivotal time of the Pumpkins skyrocketing growth.   Best yet, it’s not stuck in the MTV-style editing of current times where there’s 18 camera angles and each glance is only for two seconds or less.   There’s no distractions here.  An extremely high energy hometown performance that includes a smiling, bouncing and jovial Corgan behind the mic and guitar for a ripping run through of every major early Pumpkins track in a show that runs just shy of 2 hours.   The body-surfing Olympics taking place is a non-stop attraction as the crowd becomes as much a part of the show as the young band themselves.

The DVD is simply an outstanding addition to this deluxe set.   If there’s a weakness to be found it’s in Corgan’s live voice, and that’s true even today.  His ability to maintain top notch vocals during high energy performances in which he’s also playing lead guitar has never been his greatest thing.   However, overall, this is a can’t-miss performance and certainly worthy of the quality of these reissues.    If this DVD doesn’t satisfy the Siamese Dream deluxe reissue, what possibly could then other than 2 hours of studio footage recording the actual album?

Revisiting the Live Compilations No 4

Compiled by Arthur van Pelt
Hosting by Alberto 


So if I feel like playing ‘em, I’ll fucking play ‘em. My mentality has always been, ‘okay, you want it? We’re going to shove it down your throat.’” (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. #4, being the last one in the series, was originally posted on 2010.06.22. 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.

For #4 the theme is: Covers! Over the years Smashing Pumpkins never hesitated to play songs from other bands, be it old blues songs, be it modern rock classics. This set of 31 songs, spanning their career from 1988 to 2009, contains many surprising choices of covers. Go grab it!

290 MB & more important: almost 3 hours of Smashing Pumpkins doing covers of other bands. Prepare for a few surprises, guys, because who knew Smashing Pumpkins did “I Just Wanna Make Love To You”, originally written by Willie Dixon in 1954? And what about “Ol’ 55” of Tom Waits? Here is the full setlist, hope you guys like it!

19881120 – Time Has Come Today (Chamber Brothers)
19890316 – Venus In Furs (Velvet Underground)
19900000 – Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult, from Mashed Potatoes)
19900000 – Sookie, Sookie (Steppenwolf, ditto)
19910000 – Out Of Focus (Blue Cheer, ditto)
19910000 – Terrapin (Syd Barret, ditto)
19920000 – The Joker (Steve Miller Band, ditto)
19920328 – I’ve Got A Feeling (The Beatles, performed with Pearl Jam)
19930629 – Dancing In The Moonlight (Thin Lizzy)
19930629 – Kooks (David Bowie)
19930912 – Landslide (Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac)
19930912 – Never Let Me Down Again (Depeche Mode)
19940828 – Voodoo Chile (Jimi Hedrix), Fantastic Voyage (Coolio) + concerto in C minor
19950228 – I Just Wanna Make Love To You (Willie Dixon)
19951023 – If You Want My Love (Cheap Trick, performed with Cheap Trick)

19951212 – Emotional Rescue (Rolling Stones), Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2)
19960127 – Boys Don’t Cry (The Cure)
19970109 – Jean Genie (David Bowie, performed with David Bowie)
19970217 – Death Don’t Have No Mercy (Reverend Gary Davis)
19970708 – Glimpses (Yardbirds)
19980523 – Night Boat (Duran Duran, performed with Simon LeBon)
19980624 – I Want You To Want Me (Cheap Trick)
19980712 – Transmission (Joy Division)
19991031 – Ol’ 55 (Tom Waits)
20000124 – Rock On (Essex)
20000905 – Soul Power (James Brown)
20070914 – Heavy Metal Machine + On The Road Again (Canned Heat)
20080229 – The Zoo (The Scorpions)
20080328 – Lips Like Sugar (Echo And The Bunnymen)
20090831 – Lucifer Sam (Pink Floyd)
20091108 – I’ve Got Levitation (13th Floor Elevators)

(1) Another Billy Corgan quote is used to introduce this compilation.

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

Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 9

Article by Arthur van Pelt, Derek Miller, and Sophie Dartois

01. Adore Attention Evenement!

CD sleeve (front)

Adore Attention Événement!

Smashing Pumpkins performed many concerts categorized under ‘special and remarkable shows’. One of these occasions was in the summer of 1998 when the band visited Europe to promote the release of their latest album, Adore. The tour began May 12th in the United Kingdom, and after 21 solid shows in less than a month, ended on June 9th in Greece. In the last week of the European leg of the world tour, Smashing Pumpkins arrived in sunny Paris, France for the Bercy gig after rocking the socks off the audience at the Pinkpop Festival in Holland. But before the band went to the Bercy venue for the night show, they performed one of those ‘special and remarkable shows’ in one of the younger districts of Paris, during the daytime on the rooftop of a well-known French music store.

02. Ladylike Dragons (left) Placebo (right)
In more recent years, bands like Ladylike Dragons (left, night performance) and Placebo (right, daytime performance) are also known to have been playing on the rooftop of the FNAC Ternes store.

No more than 50 people are estimated to have attended this intimate performance of Smashing Pumpkins on June 4th, 1998. Although Billy Corgan jokingly states, “Merci, thank you very much. I’d like to thank all seventy thousand of you.” just before the band played their last song, in fact there were only a few dozen lucky Smashing Pumpkins fans present. However, he may have been referring to the amount of fans who were listening on the radio. Since the space on the FNAC Ternes rooftop can only suit an extremely small audience (for example, SPLRA.org mentions a capacity of 40 people for the rooftop), we presume that ultimately no more than 50 fans could have attended the rooftop show. How did fans obtain their tickets for this extraordinary Smashing Pumpkins show?

With the help of a very rare, numbered, Delabel promotional CD which contains the full show that was performed on June 4th, 1998, we will try to bring the full story of the FNAC Ternes rooftop performance. The text on the sleeve of the CD is in French, so we asked Sophie Dartois from France to help us translate and to explain the details of this rare release.  Sophie has translated French text for our site before and is a valued SPfreaks contributor.  What follows are her notes and thoughts, and they tell the story of how this promotional CD release came to life:

“The sleeve starts with, “Attention événement!” on the front.  This literally means, “Pay attention, a special event is coming!”  It’s a colloquial sentence used to announce an event and invite people to stay tuned for more info.

Next, we read, “Concert exceptionnel sur la terrasse de la FNAC Ternes jeudi 4 juin 1998 à 17h.”  The beginning speaks for itself since the words are very similar in English. It means that a “unique concert” or “outstanding concert” is going to take place on the rooftop of the store FNAC Ternes on Thursday, June 4th, 1998 at 5:00PM.  FNAC is the greatest retailer selling cultural products (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) and hi-fi systems in France. The name initially stood for “Fédération Nationale d’Achats des Cadres” which means “National Shopping Federation for Managers”, but it has been opened to everyone for years now. The company owns several stores in Paris and other cities, and the concert took place on the rooftop of the store located on the “Avenue des Ternes” in Paris, not far from the metro station Ternes, hence the name of the store.

03. FNAC Ternes Paris

 Street view of the FNAC Ternes store in Paris

Other text on the front is, “Invitations à gagner sur NRJ du 25 au 29 mai”.  This means “Win an invitation card on NRJ from May 25th to May 29th”. NRJ is the name of a French radio station, and the abbreviation stands for “Nouvelle Radio Jeune” = “New Radio Station for Youngsters”. The name is a pun when the French letters (“hen heir gee”) are pronounced as it sounds like the word “energy” – hence the panther in their logo. To listen to programs broadcasted on NRJ one can still tune the radio station to 100.3 FM in Paris. Sadly the programs are not as interesting as they used to be, and the new slogan of the station is now “Hit music only”.

04. NRJ logo
New logo of NRJ radio station

Furthermore, the text, “Concert retransmis en direct dans votre FNAC” is found on the front of the sleeve.  It literally says, “Concert broadcasted live in ‘your’ FNAC store”. However, a recently discovered promotional trade ad (pictured below) states the show was broadcast in every FNAC store.  It says “retransmission en direct dans le forum de votre FNAC”, or, “retransmitted live in the forum space of your FNAC store”.  It then states, “sauf Montpellier, Troyes, Villeneuve d’Asq.”.  This means except in the following cities; Montpellier, Troyes, and Villeneuve d’Asq.  Perhaps these stores were not fully equipped for live transmission. It also means that the concert was screened everywhere else. Forum spaces in FNAC stores are places equipped with hi-fi audio equipment, sometimes used as a showroom for high-range audiophile equipment (often tested with classical music). They are also used for mini-concerts and/or signing sessions.

05. Adore promo sleeve
The Smashing Pumpkins rooftop concert was broadcast in all FNAC stores in France,
except for Montpellier,
Troyes and Villeneuve d’Ascq.

The sleeve also promotes the release of a new Smashing Pumpkins album. “Nouvel album sortie le 2 juin”.  This text is translated as “New album, release date is June 2nd”. Obviously this is about the album, Adore.

There is tiny little text on the lower right corner which says, “Ne pas jeter sur la voie publique”.  It is a sentence usually written on handbills which means do not throw this paper on the ground in the streets.  It’s the equivalent of sentences like “do not litter” in the US, or in the UK, “Keep Britain tidy”.

There’s also a green logo which says, “Le prix vert” (green price).   This means when the album is released it is considered on sale for a few days in FNAC stores, with a discount on the standard retail price. “Prix vert” sales are still very common nowadays.

06. le prix vert fnac
Examples of “Prix vert” logos used by the FNAC organization.

Other logos to be found on the front of the sleeve are, from left to right, Delabel France, Hut Recordings, and FNAC.  At this point, they explain themselves.

07. Adore Attention Evenement!

CD sleeve (back)

The invitation is numbered. This one is #35, as it states “Invitation No 35” (with the figure in red) on the back of the CD sleeve, and most certainly this number is also referring to the maximum amount of people that the rooftop of FNAC Ternes could hold, which is estimated to 50 people. The invitations are then numbered up to 50, presuming all places on the roof were taken by people that received this type of invitation.  Note – The invitation (or ticket) image has been transposed onto the back of the CD artwork after the show was completed.  The CD itself is not the invitation.

Next, “FNAC Ternes Rendez-vous jeudi 4 juin à 16h30 Avenue Niel à l’angle de la rue Bayern Paris 17ème.”  This part explains where to go and how late to be there. “FNAC Ternes, appointment is on Thursday June 4th at 4:30PM (which is half an hour before the Smashing Pumpkins concert would start) and the meeting point is on Niel Avenue at the corner of Bayern Street, Paris, 17th sub-district”. On a sidenote, Paris is divided in 20 sub-districts forming a spiral (children in France call it a snail), and the 17th is in the North-West of Paris. It is considered a good living area in Paris.

08. Paris snail 17th district

Location of the 17th Sub-district in Paris

Eventually there is vertical text in the lower left corner which says “Pour une personne”. This means “For one person only”.  Lastly, there are the logos (again) of NRJ, Delabel France, Hut Recordings, and FNAC on the back of the sleeve.”

It seems obvious that this CD is very rare (maximum 40 to 50 pressed) and that it was most likely a prize for winners of the NRJ radio station contest.  However, the exact nature of the promo has yet to be verified.  It was manufactured shortly after the FNAC Ternes rooftop concert, and it is very unlikely that it will appear on the market many times in the future.  People that have attended these types of ‘special and remarkable shows’ tend to hold on to all the goodies linked to the occasion.

But Smashing Pumpkins fans are lucky to have a rather good audience recording available of this amazing Adore-era concert on YouTube! Enjoy in the following order: “To Sheila”, “Ava Adore”, “Daphne Descends”, “Once Upon a Time”, “Tear”, “Perfect”, “Blank Page”, “Shame” and “For Martha”.  See you again next week!

For Those Who Didn’t Buy (yet) Gish Deluxe

Review by Jeff Becker from The Way That He Sings

Faster than the speed of sound. Faster than we thought we’d go.  Beneath the sound of hope.
Billy Corgan

From today onwards, SPfreaks will team up with Jeff Becker. Jeff is a very talented writer who works for The Way That He Sings, a non-profit website fully dedicated to the support of independent rock and pop. We will cooperate on a multi-level scale with Jeff; not only Smashing Pumpkins related articles from his hands will be partly or fully shared, also exclusive material about our favorite band might find its way to SPfreaks in future.

So far, The Way That He Sings has published the following articles about Smashing Pumpkins:

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As a start, Jeff will present us his reviews of all four Smashing Pumpkins album reissues that we have seen so far. Each week one of them will be published on both The Way That He Sings, and on SPfreaks. And he hopes to suit the needs of those Pumpkins fans that have been hesitating so far in buying any of the deluxe reissues.

The overall release of Gish deluxe gets a 9/10.

CD1 – the original album

Gish Deluxe Review 01

Gish, the final product, is not only the precursor of two Pumpkins albums that followed – it probably exceeded even the expectations of Billy Corgan with the scope of its sound.   That’s because Corgan caught lightning in a bottle when he grouped up with Butch Vig and Jimmy Chamberlain.   The Bermuda Triangle of Vig’s keen ear for sonic perfection, matched with Chamberlain’s thumping heartbeat on the drums and Corgan’s growing mastery of both songwriting and guitar playing created the perfect storm.   While that storm came into full fruition on Siamese Dream, Gish created a storm of interest that helped propel the Pumpkins into the stratosphere over the next five years.  While Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie lifted the Pumpkins into the hearts of millions, Gish has remained a remarkable album, even though it was clearly outdone by its predecessors.

The psychedelia of Gish separated it from Pearl Jam’s Ten, Nirvana’s Nevermind and every other band that emerged in the early 90′s.   While grunge dominated the early part of the decade, many of the songs on Gish stepped outside of that stereotype .  Songs like ‘Snail’ and ‘Daydream’ provided the Pumpkins with an early signature, that separation from everything else released in this gigantic era of change in rock music.   Long gone were the glam hair bands of the 80′s, and now we had homeless-looking rockers from Seattle, Portland and Chicago tearing up the airwaves.  This remastered version highlights how much Gish has dug its heels into that point in time and that it holds up remarkably with a sound that is more timeless than something like Pearl Jam’s Ten.   Corgan and Vig had just scratched the surface of what they were capable of and Gish, despite not having any early commercial success, is not looked back upon with the credibility of anything else before 1995.

Gish Deluxe Review 02

CD2 – unreleased material

1      Starla (2011 mix) – Nice to have, spectacular quality but it’s hard to decipher it from the original.

2      Siva (Peel Session) – Nice to have and great quality mix from the Peel session.  Not dramatically different from original.

3      Honeyspider (Real Time Demo/2011 mix) – Must own and the 2011 mix brings it life even further.

4      Hippy Trippy (Crush Music Box demo) – Must own.

5      Snail (Live Radio performance) – Nice to have.   Decent quality live radio performance with a muddy mix.

6      Plume (2011 mix) – Nice to have.   Perfect quality alternate version that is similar to the original.

7      Bury Me (Real time demo/2011 mix) – Must own.  Perfect quality again on this powerful demo version.

8      Daydream (Old House Demo) – Must own.  Dramatically different version in pristine quality.

9      Tristessa (Sub Pop single/2011 mix) – Nice to have.  Once again, another alternate version in near-perfect quality.

10    Girl Named Sandoz (Peel Session) – Nice to have.  Similar arrangement and sound to the original.

11    Jesus is the Sun (Apartment demo) – Must own.  Great quality outtake.

12    Blue (Gish Session demo) – Must own.   Acoustic-driven version in perfect quality and a little free Billy chatter at the beginning.

13    Smiley (Gish Session demo) – Must own.  Pristine.

14    I Am One (Real Time demo/2011 mix) – Nice to have.  Great quality – very similar to the original.

15    Suffer (Apartment demo) – Must own.  Significantly different version in outstanding quality.

16    La Dolly vita (2011 mix) – Nice to have, but it’s either similar or the same as the version on Pisces Iscariot.

17    Pulseczar (Gish Session demo) – Must own.  Dark, haunting track and an ideal inclusion here.

18    Drown (Alternative guitar solo) – Must own.  Still a classic track.

DVD –  August 25, 1990 at the Metro, Chicago – live performance

1. I am one (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 2. Snail (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 3. Rhinoceros (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 4. Bury Me (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 5. Tristessa (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 6. Window Paine (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 7. Razor (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 8. Sookie Sookie (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 9. Godzilla (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 10. Crush – Acoustic (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD]

A full, hometown performance highlighting the Gish album shot at the Metro in Chicago back in 1990.   As with the DVD that accompanies the deluxe reissue of Siamese Dream, this is perhaps the definitive show from the Pumpkins’ Gish era.   The audio quality exceeds the video, largely due to the fact the show was shot in a swash of blue and red lights.   In addition, the source of the video doesn’t appear to be a first generation or master copy.  Nevertheless, to the upper 2% or 3% of Pumpkins fans, this DVD will warrant repeated viewings. For the other 97% it’s a one-time showing in most instances.

The performance itself shows the vigor at which the Pumpkins shows had evolved into such a powerful live setting.   Aside from the outstanding tracks, the band was a flourish of eye candy between D’arcy’s long blond locks, Iha’s odd uniqueness (does any other rock star really look like him?), the veins in Chamberlain’s biceps – and of course the exuberant Corgan hiding often behind the classic 1990 bushel of hair.   Clearly, their live show was one of huge underground hype in Chicago early on and their reputation for tearing up a club was just forming.  This show captures that well just as the Smashing Pumpkins firestorm was beginning to take shape.

Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 8

Article by Arthur van Pelt

Welcome back, dear Smashing Pumpkins fans and collectors, to the ‘extreme collecting’ series!  Let’s continue our journey in 2013 with even more rarities and highly sought after memorabilia from our favorite band.  This episode will take us back to the first full album Smashing Pumpkins released.  Indeed, the commercial release of the album itself is not rare…  But wait until you have seen all the rare artwork from all the CD pressings come together… With an extremely rare pressing to top it off!

01. Gish album artwork

Gish, the worldwide releases from the 1990s

Now, who thought all those different Zeitgeist album covers were over the top?  When they were released in 2007, there was nothing new about them, at least not for the world of Smashing Pumpkins.  In the first half of the 1990s, Smashing Pumpkins did exactly the same thing with their debut album Gish, although on a more subtle scale.  And it was most probably unintentional and not part of a marketing strategy, as it was with Zeitgeist.

First a brief history of the making of the album, and the intense touring that supported its release.  Most of the information below is taken from Starla.org and Wikipedia.org.

The album was named after silent film icon Lillian Gish.  In an interview, Billy Corgan said, “My grandmother used to tell me that one of the biggest things that ever happened to her was when Lillian Gish rode through town on a train.  My grandmother lived in the middle of nowhere, so that was a big deal…”.  Later, Corgan joked that the album was originally going to be called Fish, but was changed to Gish to avoid comparisons to jam band Phish.

Gish was recorded from December 1990 to March 1991 in Butch Vig’s Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin, on a budget of $20,000.  Vig and Corgan worked together as co-producers. The longer recording time and larger budget were unprecedented for Vig, who later remembered:

‘[Corgan] wanted to make everything sound amazing and see how far he could take it; really spend time on the production and the performances.  For me that was a godsend because I was used to doing records for all the indie labels and we only had budgets for three or four days.  Having that luxury to spend hours on a guitar tone or tuning the drums or working on harmonies and textural things… I was over the moon to think I had found a comrade-in-arms who wanted to push me, and who really wanted me to push him.’

The album’s sessions, lasting 30 working days, were brisk by Pumpkins’ standards, largely because of the group’s inexperience.  The recording sessions put an intense strain on the band, with bassist D’Arcy Wretzky later commenting that she did not know how the band survived it, and Corgan explaining he suffered a nervous breakdown.

11 tracks made it to the album that was released to most countries on May 24, 1991, although Asia had to wait till September 21, 1991 before they could slide the album into their CD players.  “I Am One”, the opening track (the only song written by Billy Corgan in collaboration with James Iha;  all other songs were written by Corgan alone), is followed by “Siva”, “Rhinoceros”, “Bury Me”, “Crush”, “Suffer”, “Snail”, “Tristessa”, “Window Paine”, “Daydream” (with D’Arcy Wretzky on vocals), with the hidden track “I’m Going Crazy” closing the album. Four of these album tracks, being “I Am One”, “Rhinoceros”, “Bury Me” and  “Daydream”, were previously recorded by the band in 1989, but all four songs were re-recorded for Gish.  This is the reason why the 1990 7” vinyl version of “I Am One” lasts 11 seconds longer, and sounds slightly different from the Gish album version.

Lots of other songs were written and recorded for the Gish album in this period, but they did not make it to the final cut.  Amongst them, “Pulseczar” (released on Earphoria in 1994 (limited promo CD) and 2002 (album release)), “Smiley” (released on the Peel Sessions EP, and a demo version also appears on the 2011 deluxe reissue of Gish), “Crawl” (released on the 2012 deluxe reissue of Pisces Iscariot) and “Purr Snickety” (released as a “B-Sides Session Outtake” from the Gish sessions on the 2012 deluxe reissue of Pisces Iscariot, after it was used as B-side to the 7” clear vinyl single of “Cherub Rock” in 1993 in a limited, numbered, release of 5,000 copies. 12 months later the song also appeared on the “Cherub Rock” 7” black vinyl in the Siamese Singles box set.).

We also know about the songs “Blue” (released on the Lull EP in 1991, and on the Pisces Iscariot album in 1994), “Obscured” (B-side of the Today single in 1993, re-released on Pisces Iscariot), “Slunk” (so far only released on the Lull EP), “Why Am I So Tired?” (much later released on the Earphoria promo CD in 1994, and in 2002 on its official album release, and more recently it appeared on the 2012 deluxe reissue of Pisces Iscariot again as a track on its bonus CD), “Jesus Loves His Babies” (appears on Mashed Potatoes, and a rough mix was also released on the 2012 deluxe reissue of Pisces Iscariot as a bonus track), “La Dolly Vita” (originally the B-side to Tristessa, it appeared on the 1994 release of Pisces Iscariot, was  re-released on the 2012 deluxe version of Pisces Iscariot, and a slightly different mixed version was released on the 2011 deluxe reissue of Gish).

Once the band had unleashed Gish, they embarked upon a gruelling 18-month world tour.  Billy Corgan later recalled: “Back then I felt we’d really hit on something.  When we toured, the band became ultra-aggressive.  By early ’92 we had become this lean, mean, on the edge, completely rockin’ machine.  With a little bit of wizardry and a little bit of sheer will, we were either blowing people’s minds, or they hated us.”

Billy Corgan had a positive take on the new album.  A few years after its release, he told Guitar School Magazine: “I think Gish is a pretty good album.  It definitely defined our band’s sound.  I’m not proud of it in some ways – I think I could have been a more original in places – but in terms of some things, the guitars for example, I think it’s pretty cool.”

The band played at the Reading Festival in Reading, UK on August the 29th.  It proved to be a disastrous show and nearly led to a break-up.  On the In Conversation interview CD, Corgan describes the show, saying:  “when fifty-thousand people talk, you can definitely notice, so there’s that pressure to really be good.  And then you know, you don’t get a sound check, you’re walking onto a big, huge stage, you have people working there who normally don’t work, your stuff, instead of being ten feet away is twenty feet away, so it makes the sound different.  And that’s nobody’s fault, but if you get used to working under similar conditions, it all gets thrown to the dogs.”

During an ill-tempered set, Corgan smashed up his equipment.  This included his guitar, which apparently struck the record company president in the head.  Halfway up the bill, the Pumpkins had been expected to “do a Nirvana” and liven up the event as the Seattle-based band had done the year before.  However, the Pumpkins failed to do as was hoped, and sadly the atmosphere reeked of failure, increased by the presence of Nirvana who were headlining the following day.  Corgan later admitted that the band was upset at each other and “it was one of a handful of times where we’ve let each other down”.

By September of 1992, the toll of touring was even more clearly evident.  Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain  was hitting the bottle.  D’Arcy Wretzky and James Iha, who had been dating, had now broken up and were finding life in a band intolerable.  And Billy Corgan was going completely mad…

Despite the internal issues, the album was made, and released worldwide.  We would like to give a quick run-down of the Gish CD album artwork, as it was originally released in 1991 and for the re-mastered version released in 1994.  Sometimes it pays to just open the jewel case, and check what is inside.  A Smashing Pumpkins collector that owns all the Gish CD versions from the list below, and also owns all the rare Asian Gish pressings from Japan, Korea and Taiwan (released with a white obi, and with a green obi) that are not presented here, can proudly consider him or herself to be an ‘Extreme Collector ’.

On a side-note, the five main coloured versions of the Zeitgeist album release (red, yellow, purple, green and silver) include (slightly) different track listings for each colour with the exception of the green-colored Zeitgeist (it contains the same tracks as the red version).  With the Gish album releases in the 1990s, this was not the case; it never came with additional and/or bonus tracks (apart from ”I’m Going Crazy”) or a different track listing anywhere in the world, at least not as far as we know.

02. Gish (1991 AU NL silver discs)

Gish silver CD, as released in Australia (left) and in The Netherlands (right) in 1991

This type of silver CD, with different designs, can also be found in Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa (with the infamous typo on the CD for the song “Tristessa”: Fristessa).  At the moment, we can only presume there was no official artwork designed for the CD disc itself when the album was released in 1991 (first with the Caroline Records label, quickly followed by a Virgin Records/Hut Recordings release when Gish was just released).  As a result, it appears every CD manufacturer worldwide was allowed to come up with their own design for the CD disc.

03. Gish (1991 US JP purple discs)

Gish purple CD, as released in the US (left, with band photo) and in Japan (right) in 1991

Two other types of CD appeared in the US and in Japan: a purple CD.  Japan kept it rather straightforward, with a text-only CD, whereas in the US those purchasing Gish were treated to a CD featuring a band photo , and the name of the band and the album in the album font.  Note that there is no track listing printed on the CD, and that the image of the Japanese CD on the right is from the promotional release.  It contains the text “SAMPLE” and some Japanese symbols on the inner ring of the CD.

04. Gish (1994 AU BR red discs)

Gish re-mastered red CD, as released in Australia (left) and Brazil (right) in 1994

In 1994, the Gish album was (slightly) re-mastered and reissued for the first time. The design of the CD artwork for this re-mastered release became somewhat more uniform, as demonstrated in the images above and below. Japan also followed this design for the CD in 1994.

05 Gish (1994 IT UK discs)

Colour variations on the Gish re-mastered CD, as released in Italy (left) and United Kingdom (right)

06. Gish (1994 CA US purple discs)

Gish re-mastered purple CD, as released in Canada (left, with band photo), and United States (right, with the promo release pictured . The commercial release came without the stamped promo text).

This list closes with what is undoubtedly the most beautiful colour the Gish CD album has been featured in.  However, it is an extremely limited pressing, and (almost) impossible to find.

07. Gish (US gold disc 1994)

Gish limited gold CD, released in United States in 1994 to commemorate the RIAA Gold sales status

No more than 200 of these gold Gish CDs are known to have been pressed for the band and label employees, and relatives/media partners.  They came with a little note, that states:

Hey Caroline Working Stiff!!!*

As you probably know, Smashing Pumpkins Gish has been certified “gold” (sales in excess of 500,000 units) by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

In commemoration of this achievement – the first gold record in Caroline Label’s history – we would like you to have this special extremely rare (less than 200) gold disc copy of Gish.

Thanks for all your efforts.  Let’s go platinum.

Regards,
Caroline Label

And Gish did indeed go platinum, certified by the RIAA on February 5, 1999 for reaching 1,000,000 albums shipped and sold in the US.

Discovering and hunting down all these rare pressings of The Smashing Pumpkins’ debut album, from all over the world, is what makes collecting fun.  Great fun!  See you again next week, when we will look at an extremely rare promotional CD containing a live concert of Smashing Pumpkins that was played and recorded in a very, very unusual place!

*The note really says ‘Stiff’.