The Smashing Pumpkins/The Aeroplane Flies High (Virgin/Universal, 2013)
When Billy Corgan goes in, he goes large. Case in point this deluxe edition 6 CD/1 DVD box set. The original 1996 five CD box set was the after party to 1995's double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. I bought every one of the singles for that album for the B-sides...then the UK ones which had more songs...then the box set which had even MORE songs. Pumpkins fans have never had a shortage of music to listen to, that's for sure. The 28 non-LP tracks that adorned the original release are bolstered by an additional demos, unreleased songs, live songs, and the first official CD release of the song Infinite Sadness, previously only available on the original 3-LP version of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
The band could have cobbled an album out of the 28 B-sides from the original 1996 box set and it would have helped to cement their fan base in terms of popularity. It might have made the transition to Adore a little easier for the fans as well. Oh well, hindsight and all that jazz, right? On to the bonus tracks!
Disc 1- The bonus tracks are all instrumental sketches from the Gravity Demos bootleg. I was an avid bootleg trader in the Internet stone age, prior to torrents when you either bought commercial CDs or traded burned CDs through the mail. I've had these for years but am thrilled to have officially mastered and authorized versions. A/Ab/E/B/F# became Endless Summer during the Zwan era. Ugly is way punchier than the B-side version, a quiet-loud hybrid of the acoustic demo found on last year's MCIS box set.
Disc 2- The bonus tracks are assorted demos and alternate takes from the MCIS album. Marquis In Spades (8-Track Demo) (Demo Version) is acoustic, being even better than the electric version. Take Me Down (Instrumental) sounds like early Pink Floyd with the bongos and stuff.
Discs 3 and 4- Bonus tracks culled from the band's four night stand at the Double Door in Chicago in February of 1995 prior to entering the studio for MCIS. I have an audience recording bootleg of at least one of the shows and loved it, but this is mindblowing in “high res”.
Disc 5– A maddening 34:48 live version of Silverfuck recorded in 1996. I saw them do an equally long, nauseating version for an encore in Toledo, OH in January of 1997. Jammy and trippy and aimless, it was an encore and left the audience begging for mercy, not screaming for more. At least at the show we had the giant video screens with all of the crazy imagery. On CD it's just long-winded and boring.
Disc 6- Live Inside The Dark Globe is the band's first fully live album. The Earphoria promo CD (and subsequent 2002 commercial release) had a few studio tracks on it, so it doesn't count as a proper live album in my opinion. Your mileage may vary. This disc is compiled from multiple shows. The band changed their setlists nightly in this era, focusing mostly on the then-new Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album. There is only one non-MCIS song here. I saw them do all of these live at the shows I caught on this tour except Lily (My One And Only) and Bodies, the latter which was almost never done live. Philadelphians in 1996 have no idea how fortunate they were!
As for the DVD...yeah, I haven't watched any of the DVDs that have come with any of the other reissue box sets, either. Hell, I've never watched the DVD that came with the Zwan album. I just don't watch DVDs or TV unless my kids have it on. I read comic books, go online, and go to concerts or movies, none of which is a judgment against anyone who does watch TV or DVDs, I'm just making a point of reference as to how I waste my free time and explaining why I am not commenting on the DVD portion of this box set.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- For those of you who just walked in, this portion of the review is restricted to commentary on packaging. Here I nitpick the materials and tactile sensations of physical media. The box features the original design on a foil-wrapped box similar in size to the rest of the non-MCIS reissues. The 7 discs are all in digipak sleeves, and all have individual designs. The 6 audio CD sleeves have a reflective foil design while the DVD has a printed design. The booklet features lyrics as well as in depth, song by song commentary by Billy Corgan.
Dio/ Magica Deluxe Edition (Niji, 2013)
This 2 disc re-release of the 2000 album contains 2 bonus studio tracks, Annica (from the Japanese pressing) and Electra (from the Tournado box set and The Very Beast Of Dio Vol. 2), which was the final song that Dio completed before passing away. The album has been remastered, which always boggles my mind when an album was originally mixed and mastered for the CD format like this one was. The six bonus live songs have marginal sound quality but are good listens. Challis has always been a cheesy rip-off of Cat Scratch Fever and I have always felt that the song was beneath Dio's dignity. This is a middle-of-the-pack Dio album but is worth owning.
The OCD zone- The 2 CD set has a gatefold digipak cover. There's a decent booklet and a list of “all” of the tour dates, which omits the first leg of the tour. I caught the band in Cleveland on Easter Sunday in 2000 at The Odeon, and that date is not listed. The sample setlist also features more songs than the band did on either of the dates that I caught them on for this tour.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.