Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review- The Smashing Pumpkins/ Pisces Iscariot deluxe edition box set

The Smashing Pumpkins/ Pisces Iscariot deluxe edition box set (Virgin, 2012; original album issued in 1994)

Billy Corgan states in the booklet that this was never intended to be the third Smashing Pumpkins album, but rather a fleshed out B-side compilation that played like a mix tape. Whatever the case may be, I have always considered it to be their third studio album, kind of a hodge-podge mix of songs not unlike Something New by The Beatles.

The remastering sounds a bit different than the original album, but nowhere near as revelatory as the Gish and Siamese Dream reissues. There is more breath and space to the sound than the original album. No one is buying these box sets for the remastered albums anyways, they are buying them for the bonus discs, DVDs, and other paraphernalia. This box set features a cassette replica of the original EP that the band sold at club shows circa 1989. This version, both the cardboard and the cassette itself, are colored red to avoid dishonest eBay sellers from pawning it off as an original. There are also a series of bizarre postcards/ snapshots, a booklet with fresh song by song liner notes, and lyrics. The thing about these reissues that annoys me is that the original packaging elements are not present, such as Billy's original song by song commentary from 1994 and all of the original pictures. Knowing Billy Corgan and the way that he gotten me to buy and re-buy singles and EPs over the years, he will reintroduce those original elements with still another bonus disc of material in the 2030s. Worse still, I'll happily buy it.

The bonus disc has a lot of “dream come true” songs on it. I was highly active in the bootleg trading community in the pre-Napster/pre-torrent Internet stone age and have had many of these songs in various forms since the '90s. Cinnamon Girl and several others are the same versions found on the infamous Reel Time Sessions from 1989. To get them in a properly mastered, officially issued version has long been a dream of mine. Vanilla is another that I have enjoyed for years. The 2012 mix of Glynis, minus the female backing vocalist, is divine.

There are also songs that even us hardcore collectors didn't have. The studio version of Why Am I So Tired? being chief among the true rarities. Can Tower of Rabble be far behind? Dare I dream of getting it on the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness box set this fall? Purr Snickety is finally issued on CD after all of these years, and like the other two box sets, just enough is left off of the bonus disc so as to not render all of your zillion CD singles, EPs, and compilations obsolete. A pox upon you, Billy Corgan!

I am really looking forward to the 5 disc Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness box set this fall.
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