Article by Debby Rosin
Smashing Pumpkins have released music in several different formats: vinyl, cassette, CD, mini-disc, and, more recently, in multiple digital formats. With these releases we have seen some stunning artwork, booklets, box-sets and other creative packaging.
On a few occasions there have been additional items to promote a release in a record store or added by the band/artist to make the release more unique and collectable. This article will discuss some of these items. If you have a unique item that was part of an official release and it is not described here, please let the SPfreaks Team know!
One of the first ‘extras’ that came with a promotional item was a computer disk with a screen saver featuring moving images. This Screen Raver item was included with limited promos of Siamese Dream in 1994. The disk was only compatible with Macintosh computers, and the screen saver was intended to be run while the album was playing in the CD-ROM drive (specifically the song “Geek USA”).
With the releases of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (MCIS) and Adore, there were in-house Virgin promos that had slides included, which feature images from the album booklets. The MCIS slides were available with promos in Canada. The Adore promo had one slide which was the album cover, and this was available in the UK. These slides can be used in a slide projector, which will display the images lit up and enlarged on a wall or projection screen.
With the release of Adore in June 1998, there was one country that sold the CD in a unique type of packaging. In Japan, the CD album sold by Tower Records came in a small canvas bag. However, the only way you could obtain this was by pre-ordering the album via the store. Only a few of these bags remain as many were thrown away after purchase.
And in France, there was a Machina promo which came in a ‘snakeskin’ envelope. The envelope came with the Machina album, an exclusive Machina booklet in French, and an assortment of other items that seem to be different in each case. Some who bought this promo from eBay and other sources several years after the album release have received extra items, such as the Still Becoming Apart promo, or the “Stand Inside Your Love” single. It’s not clear whether these items were part of the original packaging, or bought separately and included with the snakeskin envelope and Machina album.
Displays for holding specific CDs or vinyls are often used in record stores to draw attention to that particular album release, these have been used for many Smashing Pumpkins releases. Shown below is a display stand used for the release of Gish in 1991.
With the US release of Machina, there was a special in-store display used for the album in some of the Sam Goody record stores. They used a three-foot square light-box to display a similar sized image of the album artwork. A light-box is illuminated by fluorescent light bulbs or LED lighting strips. The image of the album artwork is made from duratrans or durable transparency; a type of plastic which allows light to shine through the image. The album artwork can be removed and replaced with another similar-sized image. Having this on display in-store would have brought more attention to the album and with the poster-sized album cover is a very nice item to have in a collection indeed.
Other Promo Items
In 1999, with the release of Machina/The Machines of God (Machina) in Singapore, some of the CDs were sold with a promotional coffee mug. This mug uses the Machina font and reads ‘The Smashing Pumpkins’ and ”Sembawang, Sembawang”. The latter is the name of a town in northern Singapore, but also a word used to describe Singaporeans in some cases. It’s not clear what interpretation of the word Sembawang is appropriate, however perhaps there are some Singaporean fans who could explain.
With the return of Smashing Pumpkins in 2007 and the release of Zeitgeist, there were several promo items that either came with the album or were given to fans attending the album release party at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC on July 10th. These included bookmarks, stickers, badges, and mini Zeitgeist flags. There were also badges available at some shows on the Zeitgeist tour.
More recently, the release of the first Teargarden by Kaleidyscope : Songs For A Sailor EP consisted of a wooden box which housed a 7” vinyl of the bonus track “Teargarden Theme ”. The release also contained a CD with four songs and a hand-carved stone obelisk. Apparently 99 of the 10,000 wooden boxes sold had a ‘fool’s gold’ or pyrite obelisk. To date, one copy has been verified and is pictured below.
In December 2012, the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (Mellon Collie) Deluxe reissue included what was described as ‘a decoupage kit for creating your own scenes from the Mellon Collie universe’. Decoupage is a form of decoration which been used since the 12th century to give a three dimensional appearance to arts and crafts. Some decoupage kits include pre-cut images which can be glued to a surface directly, but many, like the Mellon Collie kit, need to be cut out first from the background. The images in the Mellon Collie kit include the original album cover art and other Victorian-style images such as chariots, animals dressed in outfits, clowns and seahorses. There is a separate card which depicts a fool or jester which says ”decoupage / japanning” and has how-to instructions – japanning is the European name for an Asian form of lacquer work originally used on furniture. This item probably has the most elaborate artwork and interesting features of all the Smashing Pumpkins releases to date.
On the official Smashing Pumpkins online store (currently offline), there are extra items sold with the latest album reissues such as t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags, with different album artwork included. Another item on the online store is a SP heart necklace, made of pewter, which isn’t connected to any of the recent releases, but still a very nice item to have on its own, with the symbol that was used originally in the Siamese Dream release. The necklace was also available at shows on the 2011 European tour.
All the items described here are quite unique and some are very difficult to find, and all are very special items to add to a collection.
Sources: spfreaks.com, smashingpumpkins.com, CMJ New Music Monthly Mar 1995 (Google books search results)