The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins

EMI

Dec 24, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Given the cooled reaction to much of The Smashing Pumpkins’/Billy Corgan’s output over the past decade or so, one might be tempted to question who the target audience might be for a $140 special edition box set of an album they first released 17 years ago. This isn’t to say that their recent records have been especially bad, but 17 years isn’t a particularly significant anniversary and away from their more fervent fans, newer releases, including this year’s Oceania, have failed to stick in the memory when it comes to totting up the end-of-year lists. In other words, The Smashing Pumpkins seems like a band inextricably linked to its bygone glory era.

But then it’s easy to forget what a glory era that was: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was an album of unfettered ambition like nothing else at the time. It sold over 10 million copies and received the same adulation from the press as it did from the masses. It was The Wall for The Simpsons generation; a year later the band would be immortalized as part of one of the show’s funniest lines: “Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins”/ “Homer Simpson, smiling politely.” So if anything deserves this lavish and gorgeous repackaging, then Mellon Collie certainly puts forward a strong case.

OK, the outlay required is large no matter what the album in question. In The Pumpkins’ (or at least their record label’s) defense, the return for money is huge: the original album was vast not only in terms of scope, but at 28 tracks long, in length too. Furthermore, we get 64 extra songs over three discs—most of these are remixes or demo/live tracks that have appeared in some guise elsewhere before, but the completeness of the package cannot be faulted. The same can be said of the carefully selected and edited live DVD, comprising tracks mostly from the 1996 Brixton show in London where the band put on a veritable showcase of the songs’ diversity.

Indeed, the main drawback here is the sheer amount of time needed to invest in the package to really justify the outlay (the music critics who have to pore over every detail are certainly made to work for their promo copies). It’s not enough, for example, to indulge in the gorgeous, expansive soundscapes on the remastered original album: we are also treated to Billy Corgan’s track-by-track annotations contextualising each song. On top of this, the books of David Wild’s liner notes, some extra photography, the lyrics, and the “re-imagined cover art, velvet-lined disc holder and decoupage kit for creating your own scenes from The Mellon Collie Universe” just seem like ostentatious trimming.

Far from being a collector’s item for the die-hard fan only, this is the most complete and perfect presentation of one of the key albums of a generation. (www.smashingpumpkins.com)

Author rating: 10/10

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