Pirates of the CD Bin

Article by Arthur van Pelt

01. Tanah Lot Temple

(Part of the) Tanah Lot Temple Complex, Bali (Indonesia)

Holiday in Indonesia

So here I was last month, on a well deserved holiday with my family of three, visiting our son’s grandparents in Malaysia, and spending a week with my wife in Indonesia. I will not bore you with the tourist spots like temples, palaces, hot springs, volcanoes, a coffee farm, and other interesting places that we visited. Instead, this article will highlight a certain aspect of the music industry in this part of Asia that I was finally able to experience firsthand. Between the visits to aforementioned tourist places in Indonesia,  I went hunting for Smashing Pumpkins music pressed in Indonesia and released exclusively within the local market. I was hoping to find Indonesian shops that had no idea of web shops, let alone the eBay website, and was eager for discovering really rare items with the name of my favorite band on them. To my collecting pleasure, the hunt proved to be very productive; but in a completely different way as was expected…

The only information about Indonesian Smashing Pumpkins releases I had is what SPfreaks.com currently provides about this country, and that’s very little.  In fact, the site only offers information about five Smashing Pumpkins albums released on genuine Indonesian cassettes and no more than three of their albums released on genuine Indonesian CDs! Those CD albums are Adore, Machina / The Machines of God (note the censored artwork!) and Zeitgeist. The site also documents a genuine Indonesian pressing for the Transformers soundtrack, containing the Smashing Pumpkins’ song, “Doomsday Clock”, off the 2007 album, Zeitgeist. The goal for my collecting quest was born; I should hopefully be able to find more genuine Indonesian CD albums carrying Smashing Pumpkins songs.

02. Typical CD-DVD shop Indonesia
A typical Indonesian CD & DVD shop

Cultural Disease

Did I find them? To cut a long story short, no. At least, almost no genuine Indonesian Smashing Pumpkins CD releases. The only officially released album I bought was Adore, since it was still shrink-wrapped and thus in sealed and mint condition.  What I also found, however, and to my complete astonishment, were several pirated Smashing Pumpkins CD albums; or put another way, illegal copies of Smashing Pumpkins albums. Amongst them were Rotten Apples, Earphoria and Oceania. I also found a pirated Zeitgeist which already had an official Indonesian release! This was the result of numerous visits to local music shops mostly in the public shopping areas in the center of the big cities on the isle of Bali.

What was my strategy finding those bootlegged Smashing Pumpkins albums? Well, no rocket science was needed. When on the isle of Bali, we visited several big cities, like Denpasar, Kuta and Ubud. Those cities, well prepared to receive local visitors and international tourists alike, have quite extensive shopping areas which are open nearly 14 hours a day. And in some areas almost ten percent of the shops are a music store. It takes just a few hours to visit a handful of them. A collector’s heaven one would say? Yes and no. The majority of those music shops do not stock Smashing Pumpkins music at all. The majority of the ones that do stock Smashing Pumpkins, carry no official releases of any kind, but are showcases of the Indonesian cultural disease: piracy on every shelf in the store.

The CDs and DVDs that can be found in such musical pirate stores are straightforward ugly. Later on in this article some images will prove what I mean by ‘ugly’. In most cases, a portion of the official artwork of the genuine release is badly copied, or redone in somewhat the same style of the official release. Two paper inserts (one for the front, one for the back) are put in a flimsy plastic slipcase with an amateurishly produced CD-R or DVD-R containing the music or movie slipped in-between them. That’s all you get for your bucks, folks!

03. Muse Indonesian pirate DVD

Cover of an Indonesian pirate DVD for a BBC broadcast of a 2010 UK concert of the band Muse

Modern Day Pirates

And what is the risk producing, selling, obtaining and eventually travelling abroad with these Indonesian pirated items? The European Embassy of Indonesia officially stated in 2003: “US businesses reported that Indonesia ranks as the third largest producer of pirated products. They maintain that 90 percent of all CDs (audio, video, and software) sold in Indonesia are pirated and estimate that industry suffered losses in 2002 of USD 253 million, a 33 percent increase over prior year. Indonesia’s new copyright law (Law 19/2002) takes effect on July 29, 2003. The new law increases fines up to Rp 500 million (USD 62,000) and provides for prison terms of up to five years for dealers of pirated materials.”

The standard price of a pirated CD/DVD in Indonesia is 10,000 Rp compared to the official list prices of genuine CD albums of 70,000 – 120,000 Rp. Ten thousand Rp is roughly $1.00 in the current currency exchange market. And for comparison, the average Indonesian earns less than $150 per month (in 2004 it was $106 per month according to Encarta), making it almost impossible to afford an official label released CD!

04. CD ID Greatest Hits (bootleg)a
Indonesian pirate copy of Rotten Apples (front)

No Surprise

When I returned home, I decided to spend some time researching this issue and write this article. Should I have been surprised after all about this music piracy? Maybe not; Indonesia has a profound history with pirated goods of all kind. CDs and DVDs are no exception to this rule. For example, take a look at this article which was published in the Daily Indonesia newspaper on August 29th, 2010.


SINGAPORE – Indonesia has the worst record when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) in Asia and Singapore the best, a survey of expatriate business people showed Wednesday.

“Indonesia seems to have lost its momentum for cracking down on IPR abuses and making the system more compliant with international standards,” Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) said. Indonesia “has passed new laws that should improve protection of intellectual property, but those rules are not enforced effectively at all, and piracy levels in Indonesia remain among the highest in the world.”

05. CD ID Greatest Hits (bootleg)b
Indonesian pirate copy of Rotten Apples (back)

Indonesia was given the worst score of 8.5 out of a maximum 10 points compared to 11 other Asian economies in the PERC survey of 1,285 expatriate managers conducted between June and mid-August. Zero is the best possible score. More advanced economies fared better, with Singapore heading the list with 1.5, followed by Japan (2.1), Hong Kong (2.8), Taiwan (3.8) and South Korea (4.1). At the other end of the scale, Vietnam was second worst at 8.4, China scored 7.9, the Philippines 6.84, India 6.5, Thailand 6.17 and Malaysia 5.8.

The rankings largely reflect studies by the global software industry, which is alarmed by the easy availability of pirated movies and software in Asian cities despite governments’ pledges to crack down. “Of the emerging Asian countries, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines are all poorly rated not only for their low level of IPR protection but also for such criteria as physical infrastructure, bureaucratic inefficiency and labour limitations,” PERC said.

08. CD ID Greatest Hits (bootleg)c
Indonesian pirate CDs of Rotten Apples (left) and Oceania (right)

China also came under strong scrutiny because of the sheer size of its economy and the presence of large companies “capable of using pirated technology to compete in foreign markets,” said PERC. “Countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia do not have this same ability to inflict global damage through IPR piracy as Chinese companies do.” While China has made strides in clamping down on IPR infringement, its goal of securing transfers of foreign know-how to Chinese firms, using access to its huge market as leverage, remains problematic, it said.

“So far many of the world’s largest multinationals have been convinced that it is worth the risk of transferring key technology to China in order to develop business there,” PERC said. “This policy is not illegal, but it could become a growing source of friction…. The more China consolidates its position as a global economic power, the more other governments will be willing to take off the gloves and fight to protect their interests.” (AFP)

06. CD ID Oceania (bootleg)a

Indonesian pirate copy of Oceania (front)

What does the most recent International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) report say about Indonesia?


Special 301 Recommendation: IIPA recommends that Indonesia remain on the Priority Watch List in 2013 and supports the U.S. government’s current evaluation of whether Indonesia is complying with its obligations under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade program due to intellectual property rights and market access concerns.

Executive Summary:  The piracy situation in Indonesia remains severe, and enforcement authorities and courts within the country have not succeeded in sufficiently curtailing copyright infringement. Due to constrained budgets and resulting problems in enforcement through IPO PPNS, Indonesian National Police (INP), and  the Commercial Court in Jakarta, 2012 saw fewer raids and very little movement on infringement cases, whether administrative, civil or criminal. The National IP Task Force, whose establishment had once held out hope for a more coordinated enforcement effort to beat back piracy  in the country, has shown little activity.

Growing  Internet piracy has been met by only limited attempts to halt this spreading problem. Compounding these issues, Customs has now instituted new procedures by which a court case must be initiated before a suspected import shipment will be detained. If true, this would amount to a clear-cut TRIPS violation. In addition, market access restrictions remain significant and must also be addressed. The Indonesian government has issued a draft copyright law, which makes some modest improvements, for example, with respect to dealing with Internet piracy, but heads in the  wrong direction on other matters. Most importantly, even if the government is able to enact an improved legal framework, in the absence of true enforcement and judicial reforms, IIPA members fear that the endemic piracy situation will remain the norm in Indonesia.

For who is interested, the rest of the IIPA report about Indonesia can be read here.

07. CD ID Oceania (bootleg)b

Indonesian pirate copy of Oceania (back)

What to Think

What do I think of all this as a Smashing Pumpkins music collector? As said, I was astonished by the wide scale and shameless nature of the music and cinema piracy in Indonesia. Nowhere on this planet have I seen such a culture openly promoting and executing theft of copyright. The article I found in the Daily Indonesia newspaper was an eye-opener; this is about serious amounts of money that bands and other parties involved are missing out on. Would I promote buying these pirate CDs and DVDs? No, of course not. On a smaller perspective, I can understand the need for cheaper CD and DVD releases on the local market, but on a wider perspective, Indonesia should immediately stop hosting these pirate nests to be taken seriously again by the worldwide copyright powers that be.


Goodies – Extras With Your Smashing Pumpkins

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!

Screen Saver

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”).

Screen Raver Maca


Promotional Slides

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.

Misc CA MCIS Promo Slidesb


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.

CD JP Adore (canvas cloth)a

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.

CD FR Machina promo (snakeskin bag)d1

In-Store Displays

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.

Misc US Display Stand Gish

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.

Machina mug Singapore

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.

Pin US Zeitgeist (I said Yes to the mighty SP!)a Misc US Zeitgeist bookmarksa

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.

CD US Songs For A Sailor (1 of 99 gold obelisk)d1

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.

CD US MCIS (reissue deluxe box)d3 CD US MCIS (reissue deluxe box)d2

Other items

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.

Misc US Necklace SP Heart Logoa

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)

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.


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”.


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.


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.


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!

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!

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.

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’.

The Aeroplane Flies High (Zero Left, Looks Right)

Article by Derek Miller

In 1996, after the highly awarded and critically acclaimed release of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the Smashing Pumpkins released a companion box set titled The Aeroplane Flies High.  The box set contains each of the five singles released from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness to include all the b-sides that accompany them.  One disc in particular contains exclusive cover songs made available only within the box set.

The purpose of this article is to give some clarity to the numerous pressings, release dates, promo versions, and even bootleg versions associated with the release.

First US Pressing

The first pressing of the box set was released on November 26, 1996.  According to an article on mtv.com, the initial pressing was limited to 200,000 box sets [1].  The box set was meant to be a collector’s piece.  However, the product had an unforeseen mass appeal and the stores quickly ran out of the product.

Virgin records quickly decided to press more copies for release in the US market.  During this time, some stores gave out vouchers to be exchanged for the box set once the second pressing was complete [1].

01. First US Pressing InsertFirst US Pressing Insert

UK Release

The UK version was released the same day as the initial US pressing.  This version has the identical UPC; however, the insert containing the barcode is slightly different and has a few additional numbers.  Specifically, the code UK: SP BOX 2 appears on the label to represent a local release code.  The first Smashing Pumpkins box set, Siamese Singles, came with a similar local release code, SPBOX 1.  Unlike The Aeroplane Flies High, Siamese Singles was only released in the UK, and it was also exclusively pressed in the UK.

The total amount of box sets pressed in the initial run remains at 200,000, however a percentage of these were manufactured for release in the UK.  Of the first pressing quantity, it is unknown how many were shipped to the UK with the slightly different label.

02. First UK Release InsertFirst UK Release Insert

Second US Pressing

Due to the overwhelming demand for the box set, a second pressing was made available on January 17, 1997 [2].  This version comes with a unique barcode, exclusive to the second pressing.

The release was certified platinum by the RIAA on January 27th, 1997 [3].  Between the original street date and the RIAA certification date, 300,000 units were sold in the US [4], making it realistic that another 150,000 units were sold worldwide, adding up to 450,000 units produced; consequently, the second pressing was likely 250,000 additional units.  This seems congruent with estimated pressing numbers found on other Smashing Pumpkins websites.

Incidentally, January 27th, 1997 was also the day Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was certified as eight times platinum, or 4,000,000 units of the double CD set sold.

03. Second US Pressing InsertSecond US Pressing Insert


While the box set is relatively consistent across all releases, there are a few intriguing differences that do exist.

04. Discrepancies - the hinges

The hinges used for each release seem to be somewhat rampant and inconsistent.  There are two versions: one appears very simplistic and the second is somewhat more elegant and ornate.  While it would seem straightforward according to the entries found at SPfreaks, the hinges that ended up on the box set vary from release to release.  Therefore, it is thought the hinges were used in a “what was available at the time” fashion.

05. US sticker (left) and UK sticker (right)

        US Sticker (First & Second Pressings)                                             UK Sticker

When sealed, each box set came with a circular sticker to promote the contents inside the box.  The first US pressing sticker displays the proper UPC number.  The UK release also contains the correct number, but adds SK2 at the end.  Clearly, this sticker was meant for the UK release.

However, the second US pressing, although containing a completely different barcode on the reverse insert, displays the exact same UPC number associated with the first US pressing.  It is thought Virgin simply manufactured more of these stickers exactly the same for one of two reasons: first, they already had a sticker plate and thought it unnecessary to generate a new one to press the appropriate code; or two, they did not realize the sticker contained the UPC number and it was not changed due to an oversight or error.

The matrix codes found in each box set can vary slightly from release to release, even though they were all manufactured in the US.  The main identifying feature of a matrix code is the IFPI code, which only came into existence in 1994.  However, using these codes, which are consistent for each CD, all releases have been proven to be US disc pressings.

Promotional Copies

Very few copies of The Aeroplane Flies High box set were released as promos.  Not much is available to distinguish a promotional copy versus a commercial copy; there are no special codes, or stamps, or writing.  The only way to know for sure is to obtain a copy of the box set that is still sealed.  The promotional versions have the barcode removed.  If the box is opened (not shrink wrapped) it is impossible to tell if the barcode was removed in order to mimic being a promotional copy.

06. The promo box

In addition to the promotional box sets, two different promotional sampler CDs were manufactured in the US.  One CD contains four tracks and the other CD contains 12 tracks.  These CDs are strictly promotional, so the pressing quantity is hard to track down.  It is decisively known, however, that the 12 track sampler is much rarer than the four track sampler.

07. The Aeroplane Flies High sampler cd

Prototype Box

During the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness tour, Billy Corgan had received at least one version of the box set that utilized different artwork than was ultimately released.  Billy Corgan had this box on tour and reportedly left it behind after a concert.  The box appeared on eBay and went to a private collector.  SPfreaks has since contacted the owner of the prototype box, and the price tag is a mere $5,000.  This is more than likely a one of a kind, unofficial release that was never meant to be in the public’s possession.  For more information on the prototype box, please review Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 3.

08. Prototype Box

Prototype Designs

On Thursday, March 6, 2008, Frank Olinsky, who designed the artwork in 1996, released some more sketches for this box on a blog on his website.  Here are a few designs that were considered.  Which one do you prefer?

09. Prototype Designs

Bootleg Versions

Due to the popularity of the release, it is not surprising the bootleg market quickly picked up on the demand to try and make a few dollars.  The most notable of these bootlegs is called The Aeroplane Flies Lower.  This deceiving box was bootlegged in Germany.  Although it shares most of the title with its namesake, the unofficial box set actually contains no songs from the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness singles or their respective b-sides.  Instead, it is merely a hodgepodge potpourri collection of Siamese Dream-era singles and an exclusive interview disc.  Interestingly, even the interview disc is not exclusive, as it is available on previous bootleg interview CDs as well.

There are other CD bootleg versions of this release that at least attempt to include the material from the original box set; namely, the Australian and Japanese 2CD versions.  They look somewhat official, but upon further review, it becomes quite obvious the unscrupulous and illegal nature of the releases.  Besides the inclusion of completely irrelevant songs, both releases are dated from 1995; almost an entire year before the official box set was released.  More information can be found by clicking the links above.


[1] MTV News.  (December 16, 1996).  Pumpkins’ “Collectors” Set Has Mass Appeal.  MTV.  Retrieved December 13, 2012, from http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1434226/pumpkins-collectors-set-has-mass-appeal.jhtml

[2] (n.d.).  7243-8-38564-2-8.  ItemLookUp.  Retrieved December 13, 2012, from http://www.itemlookup.net

[3] RIAA Searchable Database.  (January 17, 1997).  The Aeroplane Flies High.  Gold and Platinum Searchable Database.  Retrieved December 13, 2012, from http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?content_selector=gold-platinum-searchable-database

[4] Wikipedia.  (n.d.).  The Aeroplane Flies High.  Wikipedia.  Retrieved December 13, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Aeroplane_Flies_High