Sunday, 17 June 2012
Smashing Pumpkins: The D’Arcy Years
So instead, I decided to put their 2001 best of “Rotten Apples” on there instead, and recently had a listen to it. Now, whilst some greatest hits albums can sometimes be a bit patchy, this one really works well. It’s mostly singles, and the good thing was, the record label seemed to get it right when it came to the band’s 45s.
“Rotten Apples” was released to mark the (original) demise of the band. They had gone through one or two line up changes before calling it a day, but the album still came in a sleeve depicting what was more or less the classic line up - Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain, James Iha, and Grunge Pin-up Queen, D’Arcy Wretzky. A revamped version of the band is now in existence, of which leader Corgan is the only original member in place, and expanded editions of the band’s back catalogue are starting to appear.
I decided it would be fun to look at what was on “Rotten Apples”, what should have been on, what probably shouldn’t have, and how the chronological order of the album helps in following the course the band took through their singles. The album is thus detailed below, but in “sections“.
For each section, a UK discography covering that period of the band’s career will be shown. The important original album release(s) will be detailed (choice of formats will be semi-random!), as will the CD singles from the period. Where an important vinyl release exists on 45, this will also be detailed.
Although the band’s debut LP, “Gish”, was issued in 1991, the band’s vinyl debut had in fact occurred the year before, when “I Am One” appeared as a hyper limited US only 7”. The band then issued a one off single on the Sub Pop label, “Tristessa”, which was their first release in the UK and Europe. Although a number of different coloured vinyl editions of the 7” were pressed in the band’s homeland, it is actually the UK 12” release that is of most interest, as it includes a bonus track unavailable anywhere else.
The band then signed to Caroline Records in the USA, and Hut in the UK. The first track on “Rotten Apples”, “Siva”, was taken from “Gish” and issued as the band’s next single, and appeared in the UK as a 12” only, backed with another track from the LP, “Window Paine”. It was followed by the “Lull EP”, a four track affair led by another “Gish” track, “Rhinoceros”, with three new b-sides. “Rhinoceros” appeared on the EP in edited form, and it is the edit that appears on “Rotten Apples”.
“I Am One” was re-recorded for “Gish” (as was “Tristessa”) and was issued as the band‘s next single in 1992. Amongst the various formats that were pressed were a CD Single and 10”, both featuring different B-sides. The b-sides of the CD edition, “Plume” and “Starla”, both made it onto 1994’s rarities album “Pisces Iscariot”, but the two tracks from the 10” remain unavailable on any other physical release, which has helped keep the price of this format relatively high.
“Siva” got a second lease of life in 1992, when an alternative version of the song - taped for BBC Radio 1’s John Peel show - was the lead track on the “Peel Sessions EP” released that year. Unlike most other Peel Sessions releases, which usually appeared in generic sleeves on the Strange Fruit label, this release appeared on Hut, and in a “proper” sleeve, seemingly designed by the band themselves. “Gish” also got a second lease of life, when it was reissued in 1994 following the success of the second album, “Siamese Dream”, the previous year. The front cover design was slightly altered second time around, and the album was remastered for the reissue.
“Drown” is the odd one out. It was never released as a commercial single, and never appeared on a Pumpkins album, but was recorded for the soundtrack album to the “Singles” movie. The version on “Rotten Apples” is a heavily edited version, done so that an extra track could be included on the album. “Gish” has been the subject of a deluxe edition reissue, surfacing last year, and a third version of “Drown” appears as a bonus track on this edition.
Gish (LP, Hut HUTLP 2)
Gish (Cassette, Hut HUTMCX 2, 1994 reissue in black bordered p/s)
Tristessa/La Dolly Vita/Honeyspider (12”, Sub Pop SP10/137)
Lull EP: Rhinoceros/Blue/Slunk/Bye June (CD, Hut HUTCD 10)
Peel Sessions EP: Siva (Live)/Girl Named Sandoz (Live)/Smiley (Live) (CD, Hut HUTCD 17)
I Am One (New Version)/Terrapin/Bullet Train To Osaka (10”, Hut HUTEN 18)
I Am One (New Version)/Plume/Starla (CD, Hut HUTCD 18)
4. Cherub Rock
1993’s “Siamese Dream” was the band’s commercial and critical breakthrough. Although “Gish” was later re-evaluated and deemed a worthy debut, it was the band’s second album that came to be regarded as the band’s finest hour. The subsequent albums would all get a bit of a slagging from certain members of the press - the 28 track “Mellon Collie And the Infinite Sadness” was deemed by some as being a bit too prog, the acoustic/electronic “Adore” a bit underwhelming, and “Machina” was seen by some as being impenetrable. But, post-”Nevermind”, any grunge or grunge-esque record had a chance of being praised, and “Siamese Dream” was seen as as important a release as anything Nirvana or Pearl Jam had done up to that point - it was indeed better than both the likes of “Bleach” or “Ten”.
Four singles were taken from the album. All appeared as limited edition coloured vinyl 7” singles, each with an exclusive vinyl-only B-side, although the flip of “Today”, “Apathy’s Last Kiss”, later appeared on the 2000 Promo EP, “Still Becoming Apart”. More about that later. “Disarm” was the odd one out, appearing on two CD editions, rather than just one, each housed in different sleeves with different b-sides.
“Rocket” is absent from “Rotten Apples”. Released as an ultra limited edition 7” in the summer of 1994, it was pressed on peach coloured vinyl, and included a live cover of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again” on the flipside (albeit titled slightly incorrectly). It came housed in a box titled the “Siamese Singles”, and the idea was that you would put your coloured vinyl pressings of the three preceding singles into the box to create a sort of mini-album. Only 1500 of these were made, and the current asking price for a box with just the “Rocket” 7” inside is £100+. At the same time, a black vinyl edition of the boxset was issued, which included repressings of all four of the singles inside a similar version of the box, and was identifiable by the fact that the sticker on the front of the “Rocket” release was missing from the black vinyl release. Despite being released as such a limited edition single, “Rocket” was still the recipient of an official promo video, possibly because the single was also issued as a not-as-limited release on CD in Australia.
“Siamese Dream” has also been reissued recently, and like “Gish”, comes in a box which uses the same basic cover as the original, but is housed in a different coloured sleeve.
Siamese Dream (CD, Hut CDHUT 11)
Cherub Rock/Purr Snickety (Clear Vinyl 7”, Hut HUT 31)
Cherub Rock/Pissant/French Movie Theme (CD, Hut HUTCD 31)
Today/Apathy’s Last Kiss (Red Vinyl 7”, Hut HUT 37)
Today/Hello Kitty Kat/Obscured (CD, Hut HUTCD 37)
Disarm/Siamese Dream (Purple Vinyl 7”, Hut HUT43)
Disarm/Soothe (Demo)/Blew Away (CD1, Hut HUTCD 43)
Disarm/Landslide/Dancing In The Moonlight (CD2, Hut HUTDX 43, different p/s)
Rocket/Never Let Me Down (BBC Radio 1 Session Version 12.9.1993) (Peach Vinyl 7”, Hut HUTL 48)
7. Bullet With Butterfly Wings
10. Tonight Tonight
Given that Billy Corgan is a Pink Floyd fan, it was probably no surprise that 1995’s “Mellon Collie…” would appear as a double album. However, it’s important to mention that it was a double album only as regards the CD and MC formats. On vinyl, the album was actually spread over three slabs on vinyl, and also included two extra tracks, not on the 28-track formats, one of which, “Infinite Sadness”, remains exclusive to this release. I am convinced I saw a gold vinyl version of the album for sale in a Virgin Megastore soon after it‘s release, but the internet seems to be full of people saying any coloured vinyl versions are fakes.
“Bullet” was the first single from the album, and appeared as a 2-track single. 1979 was only really issued in “EP” form, appearing as a 4 track single but no ’short play’ formats. A second CD single was issued which came in a different sleeve, and consisted entirely of remixes of the A-side. “Zero” was the odd one out - it appeared in the UK as a 7 track CD, with a running time more in keeping with most albums, rather than singles. It’s lengthy playing time was helped along by the 23 minute “Pastichio Medley”, a compilation of bits and pieces of unfinished Pumpkins songs.
“Tonight Tonight” was the first release to offer up different new songs across the formats, with two CD editions being released in the UK, each coming with three B-sides each. CD2 featured an alternate take of the A-side called “Tonite Reprise”, which had previously been issued on the vinyl edition of the LP. In the UK, there was a fifth single, absent from “Rotten Apples” - “Thirty Three”. Again, there were two CD editions, housed in different covers, with bonus B-sides on each, although for this release, there weren’t as many tracks to go round, and the CD2 edition was released with just two B-sides, as opposed to CD1’s three.
In the fall of 1996, the band’s US label issued a 5-CD Box Set “The Aeroplane Flies High”, named after one of “Thirty Three”’s b-sides. It includes reissues - in their original sleeves - of the five UK singles, with a number of bonus tracks added to the first two discs. “Bullet” now ran to seven songs from it’s original two, “1979” was expanded from four to six - but with the remixes all absent. The bonuses on “Bullet” were all covers, whilst the box originally detailed the inclusion of “12 previously unreleased” songs. However, that was for US fans - it was only the two new songs on the “1979” disc (plus the covers) that were unreleased, but from what I can gather, it was the B-sides of “Zero”, and the extra tracks on the CD2 versions of “Tonight” and “Thirty Three” that were making their debut in the US.
I am not quite sure what happened next, but I have seen a few “reissues” of these singles for sale, including the 6-track “1979”, but I understand these are not just people selling the discs from the box set individually, but it seems certain European divisions of Hut released these items after the original UK releases. I am not sure all five got reissued, but I would suggest you shop around if you can’t afford an “Aeroplane” boxset, if you want these re-releases.
Meanwhile, “Pisces Iscariot” appeared in the UK some two years after it’s original US release. The original freebie 7” given with the US LP was missing, but the album came in different sleeves dependent on which format you bought.
Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (3xLP, Hut HUTTLP 30)
Pisces Iscariot (Cassette, Hut HUTMC 41)
Bullet With Butterfly Wings/…Said Sadly (CD, Hut HUTCD 63)
1979/Ugly/Believe/Cherry (CD1, Hut HUTCD 67)
1979 (Vocal Mix)/(Instrumental Mix)/(Moby Mix)/(Cement Mix) (CD2, Hut HUTDX 67, different p/s)
Tonight Tonight/Meladori Magpie/Rotten Apples/Medellia Of The Gray Skies (CD1, Hut HUTCD 69)
Tonight Tonight/Jupiter’s Lament/Blank/Tonite Reprise (CD2, Hut HUTDX 69, different p/s)
Zero/God/Mouths Of Babes/Tribute To Johnny/Marquis In Spades/Pennies/Pastichio Medley (CD, Hut HUTCD 73)
Thirty Three/The Last Song/The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)/Transformer (CD1, Hut HUTCD 78)
Thirty Three/The Bells/My Blue Heaven (CD2, Hut HUTDX 78, different p/s)
12. Ava Adore
Once again, “Rotten Apples” starts to veer off it’s ‘Greatest Hits’ path. “Eye” was never a single in the UK, but was another soundtrack offering. It appeared on the “Lost Highway” release, and did get a second lease of life when it appeared on the “Still Becoming Apart” release. “Rotten Apples” was it’s first real appearance on a Pumpkins album.
In 1997, the band - now a three piece after the (temporary) sacking of drummer Jimmy Chamberlain - agreed to record the theme tune for the new Batman movie. “The End Is The Beginning Is The End” was released as a single in early summer, and appeared as a 4 track CD with alternate versions of the A-side as extra tracks, but all retitled as if they were “new” songs. After an appearance at Glastonbury in June, the single was released again in a new cover, this time featuring five new remixes of the song. Both variants of the single were released on Warner Bros, not Hut, which has caused various licensing problems, and explains it’s absence from “Rotten Apples”.
“Adore” was the band’s fourth LP, issued in 1998, and showcasing the band’s new Depeche Mode inspired acoustic/electronic sound. “Ava Adore” was issued as a limited edition 2-track 7”, and a 3 track CD which featured the vinyl B-side and an exclusive bonus track - although said track “Once In A While” did appear on the Japanese version of the album. The album, as well as being issued as a 16 track CD in a black and white sleeve, was released as a 3-sided MONO vinyl LP, housed in a colour sleeve and originally shrinkwrapped, with the band name printed on a sticker attached to the shrinkwrap. The running time was less than that of a double vinyl LP, so the fourth side of the vinyl was blank. The release appeared on the band’s US label, Caroline, and a number were exported to the UK. These copies were allocated a Hut catalogue number, although nowhere on the record was this even displayed, but copies sold through HMV came with a barcode price sticker upon which the catalogue number appeared.
“Perfect” was issued as the second and final single from the album, possibly due to the underwhelming reaction the record seemed to have received. B-sides were a bit scant, with most of the bonuses being remixes of “Adore” material.
Adore (CD, Hut CDHUT 51)
Adore (2xLP, Hut HUTDLP 51, Mono, stickered/shrinkwrapped colour sleeve, less tracks than CD edition)
The End Is The Beginning Is The End/The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning/The Ethers Tragic/The Guns Of Love Disastrous (CD, Warner Bros W 404 CD)
The End Is The Beginning Is The End (Stuck In The Middle With Fluke Vox Mix)/(Stuck In The Middle With Fluke Alternative Mix)/(Rabbit In The Moon’s Melancholy & The Infinite Madness Mix)/(Hallucination’s Gotham Ghetto Beats)/(Rabbit In The Moon’s Infinite Radio Edit) (CD, Warner Bros W 410 CD)
Ava Adore/Czarina/Once In A While (CD, Hut HUTCD 101)
Perfect/Summer/Perfect (Nellee Hooper Mix) (CD1, Hut HUTCD 106)
Perfect (LP Version)/(Perfecto Mix)/Daphne Descends (Kerry B. Mix) (CD2, Hut HUTDX 106, different p/s)
14. The Everlasting Gaze
15. Step Inside Your Love
16. Try Try Try
17. Real Love
2000’s “Machina The Machines Of God” would turn out to be the final (proper) album released by the band before they split. Chamberlain had rejoined, but during the recording process, bassist D’Arcy Wretzky left/was fired, and Corgan and guitarist James Iha were left to record the bass parts for the remaining songs. For the forthcoming tour, which was already being planned as their farewell, ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur joined the band, although the amount of material she would actually record with the band was limited, possibly even non-existent , given that Corgan was ready to split the band.
Auf der Maur was in the band in time to appear in the promo video for “The Everlasting Gaze”, although it was not to be given a commercial release as a single. The first proper single from the album was “Stand Inside Your Love”, which was issued as a two track CD single, as was the follow up single, “Try Try Try”. “Machina” was issued in some stores as a limited edition double disc release - the aforementioned “Still Becoming Apart” promo was given away as a freebie in selected stores (HMV, maybe some others, maybe not), but was housed in it’s own sleeve, and so tended to be stocked on the shelves next to “Machina”, rather than being shrinkwrapped to it, or attached in any way. In the UK, the catalogue number of the promo was very similar to the catalogue number of “Machina”.
Copies of “Machina” that were scheduled to be sold with the promo came with a suitably stickered front cover. As for the promo itself, it consisted of b-sides and rarities, and included a previously unreleased version of “Mayonaise”. In the US, the promo was issued by Virgin, and seemed to have been offered to people who pre-ordered “Machina” - copies were initially shrink-wrapped, unlike the UK copies. It’s probably also worth pointing out that you are unlikely to see a stickered “Machina” and the promo being offered for sale together, but the promos do tend to turn up for sale on their own.
The band’s UK tour to promote the album was their swansong. I saw the band’s final English show at Wembley Arena in the fall of 2000, and remember feeling rather tearful as the band walked off for the final time. It did seem as though part of the reason for throwing in the towel was because of the industry itself - the “Machina” sessions had spawned a number of outtakes, and Corgan had wanted to release this material either as a bonus disc, or as a free download - but Virgin blocked both. In the summer, the band returned to the studio to record more material and a privately pressed release, “Machina 2”, was released late in 2000. 25 copies were made, and most were handed out to fans who were encouraged to distribute the material for free on the internet. Given that so few copies were made, it’s quite probable that anybody who owns a copy of this record, only has it in bootleg form.
Meanwhile, in preparation for the “Rotten Apples” release, a new song, “Untitled”, taped by Corgan, Iha and Chamberlain only, was issued as the band’s final single. It was one of two “new” songs to be included on the album, with the other - “Real Love” - being taken from “Machina 2”. Even then, the mix of the “Rotten Apples” version differed to that on the original album, so even hardcore collectors would be getting something new. Initial copies of “Rotten Apples” came with a second CD of rarities, titled “Judas O”, but only one of the songs on this disc seemed to feature Auf der Maur - a live recording of “Rock On”.
Machina/The Machines Of God (CD, Hut CDHUT 59, copies in stickered sleeves designed to be sold with free “Still Becoming Apart” EP [CPHUT 59])
Rotten Apples (2xCD, Hut CDHUTD 70)
Stand Inside Your Love/Speed Kills (CD, Hut HUTCD 127)
Try Try Try/Here’s To The Atom Bomb (CD, Hut HUTCD 140)
Untitled/Try/Age Of I (CD, Hut HUTCD 148)