A Beginner’s Guide to The Smashing Pumpkins

Article written by Mike Nunn

About one and a half years ago I got word that Smashing Pumpkins were going to be touring and playing a show in my hometown. A friend of mine seemed overjoyed at this news and was eager for us both to get tickets. The Pumpkins were a band I had heard of, but my knowledge of their music stretched no further than the two songs they had on the game Guitar Hero, that I loved. So as a lover of music and the live experience, I took it upon myself to get a ticket and maybe listen to a track or two before the show. It was only then I reached a place I can only imagine everyone approaching this band in this day and age comes to. This place had me staring at a 20-year-long, extensive, complex, and at times, very obscure back catalogue of music that was frankly daunting to say the least. I sat there and asked myself, “Where do I start?” When faced with a band with a legacy like the Pumpkins have, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed; but the thing to remember is to take it at your own pace. There are many sides to the band that do take time to fully appreciate, but it is definitely worth making that effort, as they are a band that I know from experience can allow you to unlock parts of yourself you didn’t know were there.

My venture into the band started, as I used to do with most bands that were new to me, by getting a copy of their greatest hits. I listened through these tracks and the only thing I really digested was an air of great musicianship and songwriting, but I was simply hearing what seemed to be fairly basic grunge. In light of this initial generalization, I gravitated towards the more experimental tracks toward the end of the album, which I would soon come to know as Adore and Machina era material. These new approaches to music intrigued me and convinced me to stick with the band. The next day I bought Adore. For those of you new to The Pumpkins, Adore is a dark album which is very piano based with some very intense themes running through it. This was not the vibe I got on my first play of the album. I was hearing music that, although intriguing, was not something I was necessarily enjoying. I didn’t seem to be able to tap into what the band was trying to put across to me, but I did as I was told by a friend and I stuck with it. I listened through the album about three or four times before I had a moment of clarity. I found myself standing still, eyes shut in the middle of the pavement, actually listening to this dark, but somehow warm album, and having a connection with it. The deep sadness from Billy’s voice was no longer a grinding irritant, but now a familiar channel of pure emotion, provoked by the recent passing of his mother. I took this opportunity to look at what had just happened; the transition from hearing an album passively to listening to an album you love. It was a surreal thing for me, but the only notable and transferable difference I could find was that I was “listening” to the music.

Hearing and listening are very different things, yet they seem so similar. Smashing Pumpkins are a band you have to completely immerse yourself in and allow the music to surround you. You have to make sure you are really listening to what the band are putting across. Billy writes very emotive music that can resonate within you, provided you let it. Each release brings across a different artistic style. Albums such as Siamese Dream, portray a warm tone that is easy to access and the electronic, futuristic Machina / The Machines of God, which even I haven’t grown to fully appreciate. It is such a work of art with so many layers to it, yet is an astounding release. There is then the matter of the extensive amount of demos available through the community and reissues and downloads alike, that can allow you to see a different perspective of a song that means a great deal to you; or discover a track that never made it on to an album that captures a similar vibe to tracks you’re familiar with.

To summarize, this band really is what you make of them. They have done their part and if you choose to let their material into your life and appreciate it for what it’s worth, the value of it will speak for itself. So to any lover of music and art, I ask you to listen to Smashing Pumpkins and see for yourself what a journey listening to their music can be and see what you can discover within yourself as you let the emotion surround and occupy you.

Rotten Apples - Adore

The two albums that started it all off for me: Rotten Apples – The Greatest Hits and Adore

Smashing Soundtracks

Article by Shaharaine P. Abdullah

From the visually arresting images of “Tonight, Tonight” to the avant-garde “Stand Inside Your Love,” songs by The Smashing Pumpkins have always been accompanied by groundbreaking music videos, demonstrating the band’s propensity for weaving stunning imagery and sound together for an enduring cinematic experience.

Not surprisingly, the visceral music of The Smashing Pumpkins translates well into the big screen – after all, the band’s penchant for compelling lyrics and innate arcane appeal make great ingredients for cinematic scoring.

From the obscure to the mainstream, the following are a range of diverse films that The Smashing Pumpkins and Billy Corgan have written, produced and contributed musical material to:

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Singles (1992)

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Singles is a romantic comedy centering on a group of twenty-something friends whose lives unfold amidst Seattle’s expanding grunge-era scene. With its derivative plot and lackluster characters, the film’s soundtrack is what redeems it from being forgettable; featuring a stellar roster of grunge heavyweights like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, etc. As one of the bands routinely lumped in with the grunge movement, The Smashing Pumpkins make an appearance in Single’s OST with their track “Drown,” a song that debuted after Gish was released. It’s included in the bonus CD of the 2011 reissue of Gish, the 2001 Rotten Apples greatest hits compilation and it’s early demo format (originally 8:58 minutes in length) was also released through the SPRC (Smashing Pumpkins Record Club).

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Salto al vacío (1995)

A Spanish drama about a woman from a poor neighborhood named Alex who supports her family by drug-dealing and arms trafficking; on the side, she is also in love with Javi, a man whose life is constantly marked by violence. The movie revolves around the lives of both characters as they struggle for survival in the slums and try to deal with the bleak prospect of an uncertain future. The Smashing Pumpkins appear in the film’s soundtrack with their single “Disarm” off the album Siamese Dream.

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Ransom (1996)

Long before Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic meltdown, he starred in critically acclaimed movies like Ransom, a crime thriller about a millionaire who goes to unusual lengths to save his young son’s life after the latter is kidnapped and held for ransom. Originally, Howard Shore wrote and recorded a full score for the film but Director Ron Howard rejected it and went with notable composer James Horner instead, who collaborated with Billy Corgan. As a result, there are 7 tracks written, produced and performed by Corgan that all appear on Ransom’s soundtrack; namely “Lizards,” “Rats,” “Rats With Tails,” “Spiders,” “Squirrels,” “Worms 1” and “Worms With Vocals.”

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Lost Highway (1997)

Known for his cryptic plots and unique cinematic style, American filmmaker David Lynch reprises his surrealist trademark with Lost Highway, a movie about a jazz saxophonist framed for his wife’s mysterious murder. The rather disquieting mood of the film is echoed by its dark soundtrack listing, which features the track “Eye,” one of The Smashing Pumpkins’ singles released during the aftermath of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Originally a programmed backing track loosely inspired by Dr. Dre, Billy Corgan began work on “Eye” for a supposed collaboration with then aspiring rapper Shaquille O’ Neal, which eventually fell through. Lynch, in collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails at the time, was working on the compilation of Lost Highway’s soundtrack when he rejected Corgan’s initial submission, “Tear” (which eventually ended up on the album Adore). Corgan then finished “Eye,” which he also submitted to Lynch, who loved it and ended up using the song for a nightclub scene in the movie. The filmmaker refers to Corgan as a magical musicianafter their collaboration on the Lost Highway’s OST. To date, the track “Eye” is occasionally included in The Smashing Pumpkins’ set lists and appears in the band’s greatest hits compilation album, Rotten Apples.

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The Saint (1997)

The movie is an espionage thriller about a master thief, Simon Templar, who adapts the moniker of different saints to elude capture. In his next job for a Russian billionaire who is bent on rallying support against the current Russian president, Simon is tasked to steal a revolutionary cold fusion formula discovered by a young scientist but ends up falling for the latter instead, creating a dilemma. The Smashing Pumpkins’ cover of “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” by The Cars appears on The Saint’s OST.

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First Love, Last Rites (1997)

A couple of drifters are disenchanted in their relationship and lives, which they continue to aimlessly squander through intimacy and mindless conversations. The cinematography and soundtrack are what makes the otherwise boring and nonsensical plot bearable, with The Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan perking up things a bit by lending his vocals to the track “When I Was Born, I Was Bored” with the band Shudder To Think.

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Batman & Robin (1997)

Director Joel Schumacher’s second helm on DC’s popular Batman character, this installment features a star-studded cast led by George Clooney as Batman, with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the antagonist role of Dr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as the sultry villainess Poison Ivy. Despite the movie’s prominent roster and extensive marketing, Schumacher’s campy and family-friendly take on the franchise didn’t sit well with critics, earning the film negative reviews. It also drew heavy flak from fans, prompting Clooney to vow to never to reprise his role as the caped crusader. However, the film’s soundtrack had the opposite reaction, with The Smashing Pumpkins’ track “The End Is The Beginning Is The End” winning “Best Hard Rock Performance” at the 1998 Grammy Awards. It also garnered nominations at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Editing,” “Best Cinematography,” “Best Special Effects” and “Best Direction.”

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Free Tibet (1998)

A documentary where different bands and musicians unite under one cause: to end the Chinese occupation of Tibet and to support the fundamental human rights of Tibetans. With their songs “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “Silverfuck,” The Smashing Pumpkins join the likes of Sonic Youth, Cibo Matto, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys, Björk, etc. in a concert that aims to promote awareness of the plight of Tibetans among the youth through music.

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American Pie (1999)

Perhaps known as the film that forever immortalized apple pies, band camp, “Stifler’s Mom” and the term “MILF,” American Pie is a coming-of-age comedy about four boys on a quest to lose their virginity before their high school graduation. The movie’s soundtrack features staples from teenage playlists at the time, including Hole’s “Celebrity Skin,” which is co-written by Billy Corgan.

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Stigmata (1999)

Faith and the supernatural collide in this horror film directed by Rupert Wainright about a young woman afflicted with stigmata after acquiring a rosary formerly owned by a deceased Italian priest, who also suffered the same phenomena. Billy Corgan provides music for the movie by co-writing the track “Identify” (performed by Natalie Imbruglia) with Mike Garson.

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Any Given Sunday (1999)

A drama about a fictional professional American football team, Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday offers an unconventional insight on the athletic world and trappings of fame. It also features an eclectic soundtrack where the single “Be A Man” (performed by Hole and co-written by Billy Corgan) appears.

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Homicide: The Movie (2000)

Based on the series “Homicide: Life on the Street” that chronicles the work of a fictional version of the Baltimore Police Department’s Homicide Unit, this TV movie serves as the American cop-drama’s finale. “Crestfallen” by The Smashing Pumpkins appears on the end of the movie and can be found on the band’s fourth album Adore.

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Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

A parody of several teen movies and stereotypical characters, Not Another Movie is an underrated comedy that combines all the elements we love and loathe in teen movies, while maintaining plot cohesion. The Smashing Pumpkins cover of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again” appears on the satire’s soundtrack and as a B-side to the band’s single “Rocket” (from the album Siamese Dream).

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On The Edge (2001)

Directed by John Carney, On The Edge is a film about a group of suicidal patients who discover themselves again after undergoing therapy at a treatment facility. Stellar performances by the cast, witty dialogues and a superb soundtrack will endear you to this movie. The track “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins is played at the beginning of the movie during a scene where the lead character, Jonathan Breech (portrayed by the talented Cillian Murphy), is riding his bike.

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Spun (2002)

This film debut by acclaimed music video director Jonas Åkerlund is a dark dramedy (drama-comedy) about the intertwined lives of a group of meth heads, which is originally inspired by creator/writer Will De Los Santos’ 3-day stint of driving a methamphetamine cook around Oregon. Billy Corgan penned most of the original songs (performed by The Djali Zwan, an acoustic incarnation of Zwan) from Spun’s OST, including “Freedom Ain’t What It Used to Be,” “Think You Know,” “Revolve,” “Jesus, I Have Taken My Cross” and “Wasting Time.”

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The SP leader also makes a hilarious cameo in the film as a doctor who utters “That’s gotta hurt” while examining one of the characters, Frisbee, after the latter gets shot in the crotch.

Try

On a side note, Åkerlund has also directed the The Smashing Pumpkins’ music video for “Try, Try, Try,” which explores the same dark themes as in Spun. It is originally adapted from Åkerlund’s short film “Try” and portrays the life of a homeless drug-addicted couple named Max and Linda from Sweden. Due to graphic scenes of drug overdose, prostitution and larceny, the extended version of the video never saw much airtime, while the music video edit only had limited rotation. The extended version also featured a bleaker, alternate ending in comparison to the music video’s conclusion – both cuts are available on The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991 – 2000).

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Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003)

A documentary that chronicles the life of Rodney “Rodney on the ROQ” Bingenheimer, a radio DJ from Los Angeles’ KROQ station who was a fixture on the west coast’s evolving music scene. Hole’s “Malibu” (co-written by Billy Corgan) appears on the documentary’s extensive soundtrack.

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National Treasure (2004)

A historian and amateur cryptologist, Benjamin Gates (portrayed by Nicolas Cage) is a descendant of a long line of treasure-seekers who are on a quest to find a lost treasure that dates back to Ancient Egypt and is hidden by The Knights Templar. This adventure film features the track “Forget It” performed by the band Breaking Benjamin and co-written by Billy Corgan.

americanpiebandcamp

American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005)

This direct-to-DVD spin off from the American Pie series focuses on the shenanigans of Steve Stifler’s younger brother, Max. This film also features the track “Forget It” performed by the band Breaking Benjamin and co-written by Billy Corgan.

airguitarnation

Air Guitar Nation (2006)

A documentary that traces the origin of the US Air Guitar Championships and chronicles the struggles of those vying for the title, this zany art form brings thousands of fans every August at Oulu, Finland, where colorful contestants duke it out for the Air Guitar World Championships title. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Cherub Rock” (first single from the album Siamese Dream) aptly makes an appearance in the documentary’s OST.

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White Powder (2006)

White Powder is a short film about a couple, Mark and Cathy, and how drug addiction affects their relationship. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Believe” (written by James Iha, from the Judas Ø B-sides and rarities) appears on the film’s OST.

clerksII

Clerks II (2006)

Written and directed by Kevin Smith (popularly known for his recurring role as Silent Bob in the “Jay and Silent Bob” comedy tandem), Clerks II is the sequel to Smith’s debut film Clerks and picks up 10 years after the events of the first film, which chronicles the misadventures of Dante Hicks, Randal Graves, Jay and Silent Bob. The movie also features The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” (from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) on it’s soundtrack; incidentally, the music video for “1979” was filmed in the same convenience store used in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, one of Smith’s other films.

whenamanfalls

When A Man Falls (2007)

A drama about the intertwined lives and disintegrating relationships of four people, When A Man Falls is a slow paced film that deals with disillusionment and self-destruction. Billy Corgan contributes three, previously-unreleased songs to the film’s soundtrack, which are “Shangra-La,” Sky Of Blue” and “Whisper.”

transformers

Transformers (2007)

The first installment in Director Michael Bay’s hit franchise based on the popular Transformers toy line about two warring factions of alien robots, the Autobots and Decepticons. The Smashing Pumpkins make an appearance on the movie’s soundtrack with their single “Doomsday Clock,” the opening track from the band’s seventh album, Zeitgeist. The song can be he heard twice in the movie: during a climactic action sequence involving the character Mikaela Banes (played by Megan Fox) rescuing one of the Autobots, Bumblebee, and during the closing credits.

pagingavidcronenberg

Paging David Cronenberg (2008)

A short film about Nicola Six, a self-proclaimed psychic who eerily predicted her parents’ death and is now plagued with dreams of her own imminent demise on the eve her 35th birthday. Now on her “final year,” she has narrowed down her murderer to 4 suspects, 2 of whom she interacts with during the entire movie. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Eye” appears on the short film’s soundtrack.

100greatesthardrocksongs

100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs (2008)

A countdown of the top 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs hosted by Bret Michaels of the rock band Poison, featuring a slew of artists and bands (including The Smashing Pumpkins in an archive footage). “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” (from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) appears on the soundtrack and ranks 91st on the countdown.

fanboys

Fanboys (2009)

A dramedy about a group of Star Wars fanatics who take a road trip to George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch so that their terminally-ill friend can catch the screening of Star Wars: Episode 1 – the Phantom Menace before its release. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” (from the album Siamese Dream) appears on the soundtrack.

watchmen

Watchmen (2009)

Based on DC Comics’ Watchmen, this film adaptation is set in an alternate history of 1985 (during the height of Cold War) and chronicles a group of retired vigilantes that decide to investigate an apparent conspiracy against them – in the process, they uncover something more diabolical at a much larger scale. “The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning” (originally a B-side for the single “The End is the Beginning is the End”) by The Smashing Pumpkins prominently appears in the film’s trailer, as well as OST.

HOP

Hop (2011)

An animated movie about E.B., the Easter Bunny’s teenage son, who doesn’t want to inherit his dad’s Easter Bunny title or duties and instead, decides to make his foray into Hollywood as a drummer for a rock band. Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” (co-written by Billy Corgan) is featured in the comedy’s soundtrack.

footloose

Footloose (2011)

A remake of the 1984 musical drama film by Herbert Ross, Footloose tells the story of Ren McCormack, a teenage boy from Boston who moves to a small town where dancing is banned. His arrival serves as a catalyst for change in the community, particularly the movement to have the ban lifted for the local high school’s prom night. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Window Paine” (a B-side of the single “Siva” from the album Gish) appears on the movie’s OST.

The following are also some television series, episodes and video games that The Smashing Pumpkins’ have either been featured in or contributed songs to over the years:

TV

Glee, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, South Park, FlashForward, Cold Case, Sputnik, Smallville, Crossing Jordan, The Simpsons, Polizeiruf 110, Saturday Night Live, Roswell, The O.C., Reunion, One Tree Hill, The Vampire Diaries, The Chicago Code, Masters of Horror” (Episode 3: “Dance of the Dead”), “Whale Wars” (Animal Planet)

Video Games

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, Rock Band, Power Gig: Rise of the Six String, Grand Theft Auto IV, Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero 5

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For Those Who Didn’t Buy (yet) Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness 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

Billy Corgan’s magnum opus.

Faster than the speed of sound. Faster than we thought we’d go.  Beneath the sound of hope.” from ‘1979’

The overall release of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is scored a 9.5/10

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CD1 and CD2 – The original double album remastered

Generally considered to be either the best, or 2nd best staple of the Smashing Pumpkins catalog, there’s no question that Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is Billy Corgan’s most eclectic foray.   The remastered version here is something less distinguishable from the original than one may desire but that’s less of a knock on this new version versus an applaud towards the original, which stands the test of time just fine.  Let’s be honest – are you spending your money on this slightly-tinkered remastering of the original masterpiece, or for the 64 bonus tracks?  I choose the latter.  The remaster is primarily the vehicle to deliver this potpourri set of outtakes.  Would I be more interested in a remastered version of the Beatles Abbey Road or a CD of 12 unreleased Beatles’ tracks didn’t make the final cut?   It’s not even a fair question.  Give me the unreleased tracks.

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Mellon Collie quickly became polarizing for many grunge-based Pumpkins fans in the mid-90’s.   The fans of Corgan’s blazing, trademark guitar sound from Siamese Dream were left scratching their chins as they absorbed the slowed down quintuple-medley that completes Mellon Collie, “We Only Come Out at Night/Beautiful/Lily/By Starlight/Farewell and Goodnight”.  The leftover grungers from 1993 that were thrilled by “Hummer” had trouble adapting.  In their place arrived droves of fans magnetized by the sound of “1979”, “33” and the pop melodies that drop in and out throughout the double album in between the metal onslaught.  It was ballsy and at the same time unstoppable.  The perfect storm to wave a final good-bye to grunge and thus, raise the bar.

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Mellon Collie‘s success set the stage for another polarizing release a couple years later with Adore.  Where Melon Collie succeeded was it was the perfect playground for the most dynamic songwriter of those few short years.   In the mid-90’s Corgan would not be stopped and the sales success of this string of early Pumpkins’ albums opened the door for a near-decade’s worth of unabashed freedom in the studio.   No other artist could go from the wall pounding bombast of “XYU” and “Bodies” and finish it with “Farewell and Goodnight”.  This wasn’t KISS trying to sing “Beth” – this was a legitimate rock band that could pull off beautiful eclectic, alternative, dreamy pop music at the drop of a dime.

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The final mastery of Mellon Collie is how Corgan was able to use the dysfunctional qualities of the band members (James, Jimmy, D’arcy and himself) into one last, final group-hug success story before the inevitable implosion of their personalities and relationship took over.  Just as Nicole Fiorentino’s voice on “Pinwheels” from Oceania gives the listener that needed break from Corgan’s dominance, Mellon Collie is littered perfectly with those deep breaths of fresh air from the other band mates.   Who cares if they fucking hated each other at that moment – it was those few moments of serenity that moved the album into our emotional stratosphere regardless of this train wreck love story that ended the original band lineup.   Some of the greatest albums in our history was recorded by bands that hated each other at the time (The Wall, Let it Be).  The moments that D’arcy and James join into the vocal mix the album simply sounds more complete to us.  This, for a very brief time, was the Smashing Pumpkins we all wanted.  Everything after Mellon Collie was simply Billy Corgan.   By 1998 we were spoiled and it would be so hard for Corgan to meet an expectation of fans to relive the times that even Corgan probably didn’t want to necessarily relive.

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The 64 bonus tracks The girth of bonus material is as good as fans can expect an artist to provide.  I mean, no artist wants to provide B- material in heavy doses.   In the 42 years since the Beatles broke up they’ve officially released fewer demos and outtakes than you can find on this single reissue of Mellon Collie. A combination of strong fidelity mixed with melodic, unreleased melodic tracks are the most sought after.

CD 3-5

Let’s play the division game for the new 64 tracks and break them each down into three categories:

  1. Must own
  2. Nice to have
  3. Skip

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CD 3 MORNING TEA

  1. Tonight, Tonight (Strings Alone Mix) – Nice to have.  If this were from anything less than a classic song it would be a Skip.
  2. Methusela (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  And as with most of the Sadlands Demos, it’s a rather remarkable addition to what would have been a suitable triple album originally.
  3. X.Y.U. (Take 11) – Nice to have.  A good mix of the powerful track but not a significant addition to the original version.
  4. Zero (Synth Mix) – Nice to have.  But again, not a significant addition here to the original.
  5. Feelium (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Tracks like this and “Ascending Guitars” are where this deluxe set shows its true teeth!
  6. Autumn Nocturne (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Another strong fidelity demo of a song that sounds nothing like anything else on the original album.
  7. Beautiful (Loop Version) – Must own.  A dramatically different version of one of the album’s odd love songs.
  8. Ugly (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.   The Sadlands Demos should have just had their own dedicated CD in this release.   They’re that good.  That epic.
  9. Ascending Guitars (Sadlands Demo) – Must own and phenomenal.  This writer’s favorite track on this disc.
  10. By Starlight (Flood Rough) – Nice to have.  Rough mix, as noted, but simply OK.
  11. Medellia Of The Gray Skies (Take 1) – Nice to have.  Wonderful track but not too far away from its original beauty.
  12. Lover (Arrangement 1 Demo) – Nice to have.  A rough version of a below-average Iha track.
  13. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby (Take 7) – Nice to have.  A quality, slightly different instrumental version of a great track.
  14. In The Arms Of Sleep (Early Live Demo) – Must own.   Wonderful quality single-take.
  15. Lily (My One And Only) (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Another quality single-take on full acoustic by Corgan.
  16. 1979 (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  In my opinion, the track that changed it all for the Pumpkins.  It lifted them above potential niche that repeating Siamese Dream would have stuck them in.   This version is different enough to be a welcomed inclusion.
  17. Glamey Glamey (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  This is why reissues have true value.  Powerful instrumental.
  18. Meladori Magpie (2012 version) – Nice to have.  Not too far off from the original to be mandatory.
  19. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (Home Piano Version) – Skip.  A beautiful track on the original album and this one adds very tiny value.
  20. Galapogos (Instrumental/Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Beautiful sounding track that is dramatically different from the original.
  21. To Forgive (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Sound quality alone on the opening chords of Corgan’s acoustic guitar blows this out of the water – sounding better than the original in fact.

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CD 4 HIGH TEA

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  1. Bullet With Butterfly Wings (Sadlands Demo)  – Must own.  Similar vocal arrangement to the original but an acoustic gem of a version!
  2. Set The Ray To Jerry (Vocal Rough) – Nice to have.  Similar to original in mix and sound.
  3. Thirty-Three (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Similar vocal track but quite a bit different instrumental track.
  4. Cupid De Locke (BT 2012 Mix) – Must own.  Another great sound quality, alternate version – different enough to warrant a listen away from the original.
  5. Porcelina Of The Vast Ocean (Live Studio Rough) – Nice to have.  Crisp, early demo version with a raw vocal track.
  6. Jellybelly (Instrumental/Pit Mix 3) – Nice to have.   Very similar to original in feel.
  7. The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right) – Nice to have.   Again, very similar to original in feel.
  8. Jupiter’s Lament (Barbershop Version) – Nice to have.   A slightly different feel to this.
  9. Bagpipes Drone (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.   More 1995 guitar work from Corgan.  Very worthwhile.
  10. Tonight, Tonight (Band Version Only, No Strings) – Must own.  A new way of looking at an obvious classic.
  11. Knuckles (Studio Outtake) – Must own.   Another track that makes the Mellon Collie era sound even more eclectic than it already is.
  12. Pennies (2012 remaster) – Skip.   Great, great song but very similar to original.
  13. Here Is No Why (Pumpkinland Demo) –  Nice to have.  Another not-so-different version than the original.
  14. Blast (Fuzz Version) – Must own.  Another instrumental gem in prime quality.
  15. Towers Of Rabble (Live) – Must own.   Great addition of an unreleased live track in near-perfect quality.
  16. Rotten Apples – Nice to have.  Perfect quality but very similar to the original.
  17. Fun Time (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.    Let’s make a rule:  Sadlands = Must have!
  18. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby (Acoustic Version) – Must have.  Alternate versions of previously released material need to be just like this.
  19. Chinoise (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Beautiful acoustic piano demo track.
  20. Speed – Must have.  Another odd how-did-this-get-excluded from the original album.  Wonderful track.

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CD 5 SPECIAL TEA

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  1. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (Nighttime Version 1) – Must own.  Fairly stunning alternate guitar version.   It’s a gem of this collection and something that would have worked equally well on the original release.  Sounds like a Mojave 3 song.
  2. Galapogos (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  It’s a Sadlands demo and these demos are dominating this reissue, as they should.
  3. Cherry (BT 2012 Mix) – Nice to have.  Different but yet very similar to the original.
  4. Love (Flood Rough) – Nice to have.  The greatest Pumpkins song ever on headphones, just a slightly altered, early version here.
  5. New Waver (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.   Another short, sonic instrumental blast.
  6. Fuck You (An Ode To No One) (Production Master Rough) – Nice to have.  Top sound quality but as with most of these alternate versions – quite similar to the original.
  7. Isolation (BT 2012 Mix) – Must own.  Perfect-sounding remake of the Joy Division track.
  8. Transformer (Early Mix) – Nice to have.  Similar to the original in sound.
  9. Dizzle (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  More wonderful material from the Sadlands demos, even if many of them are instrumentals.
  10. Goodnight (Basic Vocal Rough) – Must own.  Very rough early mix in excellent sound quality.  Out of tune vocals but a great look at an early version.
  11. Eye (Soundworks Demo) – Must own.  Another very different, early look at one of the hidden gems from their official, but obscure piece of their catalog.
  12. Blank (Sadlands Demo) – Must own.  Quite stunning version in prime sound.
  13. Beautiful (Instrumental-Middle 8) – Must own.  Wonderful guitar instrumental of one of Mellon Collie’s final, remarkable tracks in great fidelity.
  14. My Blue Heaven (BT 2012 Mix) – Nice to have.  Very similar to the original.
  15. One And Two – Must own.  Typical, delicate slow gem from Iha.  Should have been on the album.
  16. Zoom (7 ips) – Must own.  One of many above-average instrumentals in top quality.
  17. Pastichio Medley (Reversed Extras) – Skip.  Adds no value.
  18. Marquis In Spades (BT 2012 Mix) – Nice to have.  Very similar to the original.
  19. Tales Of A Scorched Earth (Instrumental/Pit Mix 3) – Skip.   Adds no value to me.
  20. Tonite Reprise (Version 1) – Must own.  High fidelity mix of the standout track.
  21. Wishing You Were Real (Home Demo) – Nice to have only because it’s an original, unreleased track.  Sound quality is one of the worst.
  22. Thru the Eyes of Ruby (Pit Mix 3) – Skip.
  23. Phang (Sadlands demo) – Must own.  Outstanding, pounding and strongly melodic guitar finale.

DVD – live show filmed at Brixton Academy, London (1996) & Rockpalast (1996)

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Disappointing only in the fact that the DVD contains no complete show, which is an obvious head-scratcher.  In this day of High-Definition video quality expectations anything in Standard Definition looks like it was filmed in 1957 at this point.  But there’s no illusion here; viewing the original lineup during these Mellon Collie tour stops is sonically compelling.   What’s most gripping is the clear rage that Corgan so often illustrates onstage.  Far gone is the pop and dreamy side of Mellon Collie.  On tour, he is unleashed and borderlining on speed metal in front of the herculean Chamberlain and stylistic bookends to his left and right with D’arcy and Iha.  It’s a visual orgy as Corgan wails away like a man unleashed.   Captivating material even though I’d still prefer to see it re-released on Blu-Ray format.

Smashing Pumpkins and The Frogs: A Brief History

Article by Arthur van Pelt

For today’s article we will put the spotlight on The Frogs, or more accurately, on the two brothers, Dennis and Jimmy Flemion, who founded the band.  Since it is a little over half a year ago that Dennis Flemion passed away at the age of 57, we thought it would be appropriate to honor the many years that Smashing Pumpkins and The Frogs joined forces.  From one of the ‘Collecting to the Extreme’ episodes we know that the Flemion brothers did additional vocals on “To Sheila” and “Behold! The Night Mare” on the Adore album, but in this article we will go deeper into their many other collaborations with Smashing Pumpkins.

The information and images below came from several sources (Matador Records, MTV, Wikipedia, Journal Times, Twitter, MySpace, TheMusic.com Australia, SPLRA, SPFC, Hipsters United and Crestfallen) and were reworked for this brief history on Smashing Pumpkins and The Frogs.

 01. The Frogs
Dennis (left) and Jimmy (right) in one of their most famous stage costumes.

Dennis and Jimmy are two brothers (Dennis is the eldest) that are best known for having founded the independent (and sometimes controversial) rock/folk band The Frogs in 1980. The Frogs, as a band, but also the individual Flemion brothers, have played an important role in the history of Smashing Pumpkins.  In 1993, Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan saw The Frogs at a small club in Madison, Wisconsin, and invited them to open for Smashing Pumpkins.  The first time The Frogs did so was at the Unicorn, Milwaukee show on July 23, 1993.  Very soon, The Frogs were opening for bands like Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Urge Overkill, and other who were fans of the group, to mixed reactions.  For example, on Hipsters United, November 28, 2008, a commenter named Davin explained: “The Frogs got booed off the stage the last time I saw them play with Smashing Pumpkins @ Aragon.”  Nevertheless, The Frogs shared the stage with Smashing Pumpkins on numerous occasions in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2007 and 2008.

As Gil Kaufman (MTV.com) remembered The Frogs during the then ‘final’ Smashing Pumpkins concert in 2000: “Corgan brought out longtime friends Jimmy and Dennis Flemion of bizarro Milwaukee rock duo the Frogs for a pair of songs early in the show.  Wearing his signature spangly green bat wings, lanky band leader Jimmy Flemion warbled his way through a country-ish reading of the ballad “Blissed and Gone” as Corgan swayed, smiled and acted uncharacteristically goofy, swinging his arms and mugging for the crowd. “I had myself / I had my band,” the head Pumpkin mooned, hands on hips, rolling his eyes like a petulant child.

And during the 2001 – 2005 period when Smashing Pumpkins was not around as a band, The Frogs was the band Zwan (which featured Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin) invited to enliven their live shows.  We know The Frogs opened for Zwan at the Double Door, Chicago show on April 12, 2002, and possibly others. 

After meeting Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain in 1993, The Frogs wrote two songs about Kurt (“Lord Grunge” being one of them), and also made him a videotape called Toy Porno. The VHS of Toy Porno featured select live performances and stop-motion animations with a number of painted action figures.  The action figures, and other dolls, were used as sexually promiscuous characters in various short sketches.  The tape became constant viewing material on Nirvana’s tour bus.  The videotape has since been made available to fans and has become a cult classic.

02. The Frogs with Kurt Cobain

The Frogs with Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.

In the summer of 1994, the Frogs played the second stage at Lollapalooza, with Billy Corgan joining them at every stop, shredding away on lead guitar for their encore of “I Only Play 4 Money” and “Lord Grunge”.  Corgan continued to support and promote The Frogs by producing the short film Meet the Frogs which he included on Smashing Pumpkins’ 1994 Vieuphoria video compilation. The short film brought the group further recognition, but it also confused Smashing Pumpkins fans who didn’t know whether they should take the Frogs seriously as a band.

With their recordings for the Matador, Homestead, Four Alarm and Scratchie labels, but most importantly through their exhaustive Made Up Songs cassettes (and later compact discs), Dennis and Jimmy Flemion were, with their band The Frogs, one of the most crucial, if not one of the strangest American bands of the last quarter century.  Though best known (but not universally beloved) for the explicit subject matters found on It’s Only Right & Natural, as well as for their associations with a number of celebrity patrons, the Frogs’ comedic gifts have occasionally (and most probably unfairly) overshadowed their musical depth.  Just as It’s Only Right & Natural was a huge conceptual departure from their self-issued debut The Frogs, subsequent works like 1997′s grunge-baiting Star Job were a world away from the Do-It-Yourself folk affectations of It’s Only Right & Natural.

03. JF and BC working on Star Job

Jimmy Flemion and Billy Corgan working on The Frogs’ Star Job EP in 1994

In 1994, The Frogs signed to a new label, Matador Records, who released two Frogs singles to begin with. They also recorded the EP Star Job, produced by Billy Corgan (who used the pseudonym Johnny Goat); however, the album was not released at that time.  From August 1996 to February 1997, Dennis Flemion replaced Smashing Pumpkins’ recently-deceased keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin for the Infinite Sadness Tour. During each night’s encore, Jimmy Flemion performed “1979” (which was influenced by an unreleased Frogs song, “Pleasure”) with Smashing Pumpkins, as well as selecting audience members to dance on stage.  The Flemion brothers also appeared on the Smashing Pumpkins’ Tonight, Tonight single for the song “Medellia of the Gray Skies”, and they performed, as previously mentions, backing vocals on some songs of the 1998 album Adore.

More recent appearances where Smashing Pumpkins and (one of) the Flemion brothers or The Frogs as a band played together: on November 13, 2007, Jimmy Flemion performed with Smashing Pumpkins at The Backyard in Austin, Texas.  The Frogs also opened for Smashing Pumpkins on December 7, 2008, in Chicago during the band’s ‘Celebrating 20 Years Of Sadness’ tour.

04. The Frogs artwork

Artwork for several musical releases of The Frogs

On July 7, 2012, tragedy hit the Flemion family.  While out on a boat with family and friends, Dennis Flemion went for a swim and did not resurface.  On July 9th it was publicly announced that “Dennis Flemion, one half of the Milwaukee duo known as The Frogs, was identified earlier today as the missing swimmer from a Saturday afternoon disappearance on Racine, WI’s Wind Lake.”  The body of Dennis Flemion was recovered from the water on the evening of July 10.  Meanwhile, Billy Corgan took to his Twitter.com page after hearing the news and wrote, “I’m devastated by the loss of my friend Dennis Flemion. Words can’t explain the sorrow.  A tragic loss.  Please pray for his family.”  Funeral services were held on July 14th, 2012, and attended by Billy Corgan, who performed a new song called “25 Surprise”, which he wrote as a personal tribute to Dennis Flemion.

05. Dennis Flemion tweet BC

Billy Corgan Tweet from  July 10, 2012, when he heard about the untimely death of Dennis Flemion.

At Matador Records, Dennis Flemion was remembered by a blogger called Gerard, with the following words.

“There’s a couple of new Frogs albums that came out last week on iTunes; ‘Squirrel Bunny Juniper Deluxe’ and ‘Count Yer Blessingz’. The Dennis that we saw onstage would’ve recognized this tragic event as a huge opportunity to plug some new recordings. Sans wig, drum sticks, etc. he might’ve preferred I’d not even mention it. The fantastic output and fleeting moments of near-fame aside, I hope he’s remembered as a really sweet guy first, and a hugely talented artist second. Our thoughts go out to Jimmy, the rest of the Flemion family, their friends and everyone who was lucky enough to know Dennis.  Simply saying, “he’ll be missed” doesn’t come close to covering it.”

To this date it remains unclear if and how The Frogs, as a band, will continue on after the sudden and unfortunate passing of Dennis Flemion. So far, the two albums mentioned, Count Yer Blessingz and Squirrel Bunny Jupiter Deluxe that were released shortly before Dennis passed away, remain the latest musical output from The Frogs.  And as far as we know, no public appearances by Jimmy Flemion with Smashing Pumpkins have been noted since July 16, 2012, when Billy Corgan played “The Celestials” solo with an acoustic guitar at Dennis and Janice Flemion’s home, following the funeral.

A great article on The Frogs called ‘The Niles Notes: I’m Sad Because the Goat Just Died: Why I Love (And Will Miss) The Frogs, the World’s Greatest Band’ was written for L’etoile Magazine by blogger Niles Schwartz. It can still be found here.

For Those Who Didn’t Buy (yet) Pisces Iscariot Deluxe

Review by Jeff Becker from The Way That He Sings

The hidden gem of the Pumpkins official catalog.  Lost in the dream-world trifecta of Gish, Siamese Dream and Mellon collie and the Infinite Sadness is Pisces Iscariot.  So where does it stand among the real Pumpkins’ albums?   Just a mix tape from Billy, or so much more?

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

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The overall release of Pisces Iscariot is scored a 8.5/10

CD1 – the original album

Blessed heavily with the sound that made Siamese Dream the sonic springboardit became, Pisces Iscariot fits snug on the shelves of all Pumpkins owners – somewhere close to their hearts for sentimental reasons as much as it is due to the quality of the songs.   Driven entirely by the Gish/Siamese Dream timeframe, Corgan is correct in that it’s less an album and more a mixtape.  That doesn’t exclude it from some dropdown Pumpkins’ classics such as the unimaginably perfect “Whir”, the bassy growl of “Blue” and the very classic Pumpkins sound in “Starla”.   From a song quality eyeball it falls somewhere equal to Gish, but well behind the Pumpkins best trifecta of Siamese/Mellon Collie/Adore.   It’s on the next shelf down from the best that Corgan ever put together – and that is ok, because that’s where it was meant to be.

The remastering does a fine job collecting all the sounds you may have think you missed from the original.   The best tracks sound greater, bigger and the new additions here are brought up to the sonic standards of all the Pumpkins releases, allowing them to run together far more seamlessly.   If this release had been marketed back in 1994 as a true “album” it would have stood the test of time, albeit a slight disappointment after following the monster-sized Siamese Dream. However, as a compilation it’s outstanding.

Mellon Collie turned everything upside down in Pumpkinland and Pisces Iscariot was that perfect appetizer. It’s that last piece of the early pre-arena Pumpkins for fans to embrace as Corgan became a far more eclectic songwriter as he hit full stride with both Mellon Collie and Adore.

Is this deluxe reissue package with the extra tracks, remastered original, DVD performance from 1988 and original demo cassette worth the price of admission?  Yes, it’s on the borderline of a no-brainer especially given the sonic quality of CD2 and fine package for the box itself.

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CD2 – unreleased material

  1. Bye June (Ignoffo Sessions/2012 Mix) – Must own.   Near crystal-clear quality acoustic track sung by Corgan.
  2. My Dahlia (Ignoffo Sessions/2012 Mix) – Must own.  Another very high quality spiraling tune without the Pumpkins sound anywhere to be found.  Very much a precursor towards the B-sides that littered the Mellon Collie era.
  3. Jesus Loves His Babies (Gish Sessions Rough Mix) – Must own.  Another very worthy addition with a very trademark Gish sound.  Not Gish-album worthy, but optimal for this release.
  4. Cinnamon Girl (Ignoffo Sessions/2012 Mix) – Nice to have.  A decent rendition of a decent Neil Young song.  Once again, nowhere else would this be worthy of release than a reissue such as this.  This is the Pumpkins trying to sound like Neil Young versus the Pumpkins trying to repossess the original.   It’s not the landmark rendition we would hope for.
  5. Glynis (2012 Mix) – Must own.   A hidden Pumpkins classic that would have fit perfectly on either of the first two albums.
  6. Crawl (Gish Sessions outtake) – Must own.  Still yet another excellent sound quality unreleased track from the Gish days, running nearly 7 minutes long.  An absolute winning streak unfolding here.
  7. Cinder Open (Eddy St. demo/2012 Mix) – Must own.  Rather beautiful instrumental.
  8. Blissed (Sadlands demo/2012 Mix) – Must own.  One more gem, of the many, from the Sadlands demos.   Early vocal track apparent but these are why deluxe reissues add value to a catalog.
  9. Slunk (Live) (2012 – Remaster) – Nice to have only because of the obscurity of the song.  The track itself, while sounding like true Pumpkins, has few endearing qualities compared to its peers.
  10. Jackie Blue – Must own.  A much more worthwhile attempt at a remake than “Cinnamon Girl” provided.   Classic Pumpkins sounds recapture this track near perfectly.
  11. Venus in Furs (Live) – Nice to have, but a rather rough mix of this live cut.   A killer studio version would have looked ahead to the Adore-era sound.
  12. Translucent (Sadlands demo/2012 mix) – Must own.  The best track on this disc.
  13. French Movie Theme (Siamese Sessions outtake) – Nice to have.  Odd, but high quality track.
  14. Purr Snickety (Gish b-sides session outtake) – Must own.  Great quality outtake from Gish.
  15. There It Goes (Demo/2012 Mix) – Must own.  The 2012 mix provides this track with a full punch.  Quite outstanding with the full, lighter and more pop-style Pumpkins sound taking charge.  A very worthy candidate for the best piece of this collection.
  16. Vanilla (Ignoffo Sessions) – Must own.  Finishing off a rather spectacular release of top quality studio outtakes.
  17. Why Am I So Tired (Live in studio demo) – Must own.  A blazing layer of guitars to say good-bye.   A suitable instrumental that is probably a rarity in that it’s a full band effort.

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DVD – basement jam, 1988

The DVD’s centerpiece – a rather decent quality video from the Basement Jam in November of 1988 (taken from the Pulse Cable Access show in Chicago) is worth the price alone.  Splattered along with a few random early live performances, it’s a great one-time document of the earliest in Pumpkins history, muchspring prom. Watching it more than once may not be necessary, but not many things in the world are.

1. Intro by Billy Corgan (DVD) 2. Pulse Cable Show Introduction by Lou Hinkhouse (DVD) 3. There It Goes (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 4. She (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 5. She (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 6. Under Your Spell (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 7. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 8. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 9. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 10. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 11. Bleed (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 12. Nothing and Everything (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 13. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 14. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 15. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 16. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 17. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 18. Death of a Mind (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 19. Spiteface (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 20. Blue (DVD) 21. Offer Up (DVD) 22. The Joker (DVD) 23. Slunk (DVD) 24. Dancing In The Moonlight (DVD) 25. Snap (DVD) 26. Hello Kitty Kat (DVD)

Cassette

Having sonic expectations at a low point here, this early cassette is actually far more delightful than you’d imagine. Rather sparkling sound quality for this reproduction of the original Pumpkins demos, released in a reproduction of its original packaging. An obvious prelude to Gish is found in nearly every track and it’s one of the more pleasant surprises of the reissue. In full light here are the early Corgan vocals – already becoming a signature and disavowing any signs of the 80’s hair glam rock going on at the time. A signature Pumpkins sound is clearly found on tracks like ‘East’ and this is a prized addition to this already stellar collection.

1. Jennifer Ever (Tape) 2. East (Tape) 3. Nothing And Everything (Tape) 4. Sun (Remix) (Tape) 5. She (Live) (Tape) 6. Spiteface (Tape)