Thursday, November 17, 2011

rekindling the smashing pumpkins

My love/hate relationship with The Smashing Pumpkins has been reignited. By this account of Courtney Love. In Brazil. Last Sunday.

Before another epic tirade devolved into commanding the crowd to chant "the Foo Fighters are gay," apparently Love

"claimed she was the inspiration for almost everything on the Smashing Pumpkins' landmark mid-'90s albums Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. She even took credit for the key lyric on SPs hit 'Disarm,' saying she wrote the line 'The killer in me is the killer in you' in a letter to Billy Corgan."

Somewhere been repulsion and amusement, I found myself on The New Smashing Pumpkins' Facebook page, unconsciously listening to sunnier SP tracks from the baby talk titled Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.

Now, Billy Corgan is not without his own absurd antics (forays into pro wrestling, the control freak causing band drama, allegedly "dating" (or aspiring to snog) Jessica Simpson, etc.), but it had been years since I'd personally pressed play on a Pumpkins song, apparently seeking that unmistakable, shrill whine. And even though Billy Corgan tried his damnedest, I had a hard time letting go of the Pumpkins the first time around.

Through the Machina years and the slow demise of the band, as original members left or faded out of the picture, I still looked forward to the future, holding Corgan in high esteem--at least, I was anticipating what was next.

Believing the glass was still half full, I reveled in the fact that Corgan contributed to New Order's comeback album Get Ready and was overjoyed to find out he'd be filling in for Gillian Gilbert on Moby's inaugural Area:One Festival (the second would be the last) when it came to the Gorge--a trip that was a first (and only) for many things: New Order, the Gorge Amphitheatre, The Roots, OutKast (only). A SP-emblazoned guitar pick that Corgan flicked into the audience was a prized trophy, forever framed alongside a piece of Moby's t-shirt in my childhood bedroom.

I embraced Zwan and even regularly listened to both Billy's and Jimmy Chamberlin's 2005 solo records. But the thought that the band would reunite five years later under the same name with just two original members stretched my sentimentalism a bit thin. I stopped paying attention and failed to get into Zeitgeist. I had given up on the band--or what was left of it.

Then things only got more ridiculous when it was announced that a 19-year-old kid from Beaverton was going to be the band's new drummer in the absence of Jimmy Chamberlain. From the outside, it always felt like Billy broke the band up. It seemed that the things that made him a great musician and frontman made him a terrible compatriot in close quarters. And yeah, it may have been his band to break up and then "reunite," but the rest of us, and maybe some former bandmates, cared about that band too. (Teenage Pumpkins devotee speaking here.)

So, at that point I did something that my former self would've thought unfathomable. The next time the Pumpkins came to town for MFNW 2010 (playing what would've been an intimate show at the Wonder), I chose to watch Menomena--who would soon shed their original lineup too--instead.

And now we're finally to the point of this post. The Smashing Pumpkins are reissuing their first two albums, Gish and Siamese Dream, in a package that includes tons of unreleased rarities and two DVDs of period performances--we're talking hometown Metro gigs in Chicago from 1990 and '93--out November 29th via EMI.

My indifference might've allowed me to gloss over these releases except I also stumbled across four streams--four previously unreleased demos from the upcoming reissues including "I Am One (Reel Time Demo/2011 Mix)," "Rocket" (Rehearsal Demo)," "Today (Broadway Rehearsal Demo)" and "Disarm (Acoustic Mix)"--posted on Seattle's 107.7 FM The End, which of course have now been taken down.

But hearing those old originals roused something within me, made me remember the band I once loved. So I got on the horn (email) and demanded my copies, which should be on my doorstep ASAP. And I'm once again excited to listen to The Smashing Pumpkins.

I've still yet to like that Pumpkins page on Facebook although I've been back to listen to the tracks--more for background noise than due to any deep attraction to the music. (Besides, these freebies are better.) The voice is the same, so maybe the songs are growing on me?

I guess I'm open to the risk.

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