ARTIST: Smashing Pumpkins
YEAR RELEASED: 1995
CHART ACTION: US #1, UK #4
SINGLES: Bullet with Butterfly Wings (#22 US, #2 Alternative, #4 Mainstream, #20 UK), 1979 (#12 US, #1 Alternative, #1 Mainstream, #16 UK), Zero (#49 Airplay, #9 Alternative, #15 Mainstream), Tonight Tonight (#36 US, #5 Alternative, #4 Mainstream, #7 UK), Thirty-Three (#39 US, #2 Alternative, #18 Mainstream, #21 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: X.Y.U., Muzzle
LINEUP: Billy Corgan, D’Arcy Wretzsky, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlain. Greg Leisz played pedal steel.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A L-O-N-G record with some masterful songs, and some songs that needed pruning.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You talk about bloat? You thought the Smashing Pumpkins last album was too long and hard to get through at once? Well, you ain’t heard nothing yet.
This double CD (28 tracks, originally thought of 32 early on out of 56 they considered after recording about 70 or so, and 30 on the original vinyl version) has a wide array of tracks in both length and motif.
This is where Billy Corgan and his mates break out of their alt-rock motif and dabble in chamber pop, acoustic folky songs, prog rock epics, and guitar freakouts. Many of the songs are classics – touchstones of the mid-90’s. The deep cuts were interesting and revelatory. They were all over radio and MTV.
Yet, for all the accolades and sales, this record could use a good whacking at times. A lot of the songs go about a minute too long, sometimes two minutes. The quieter tracks aren’t sequenced in a way where they would be most effective – they get lost in the noise. I don’t know if I’d trim a track myself but a couple could go missing without being a big loss.
Corgan thought of this as a concept record about a teenage day in the life, and despite this being his concept for once the entire band contributed arrangements, solos, and played their instruments. It does sound like more collaboration instead of being a one man gang, for sure.
But this is an album that is tough to listen to all at once, simply because it’s just way too long. The extended endings on many songs make one say ‘get ON with it’.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: One of the outtakes was a pastiche of about 70 songs that they demoed and / or considered for the album.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, of course. The original vinyl version had two extra tracks. They released another version with lots of extras and demos and a live DVD.
GRADE: A-: I don’t know if it deserves to be cut down to a single album, because of the breadth, but an editor was really needed on some tracks for it to earn an A.