The Milk Lounge

Billy Corgan: On Trial

Subject: Billy Corgan.

Allegged crime: Greed with blatant disregard for fans.

Exhibit A: Corgan claims Pumpkins reunion in 2005, but come time for the new album, Billy and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin are the only ones sporting tacky reunion picnic t-shirts.

Exhibit B: Multiple, proprietary versions of the new album.

Concerning Exhibit A; I'll give Corgan the benefit of the doubt and say the reason to switch back to the SP name was artistic. Besides, I'm sure it'd be hard to pull James Iha away from his successful collaborations with acts like A Perfect Circle, The Sounds, America, Whiskeytown, etc, and D'arcy is busy with her horse farm and antique shops. (By the way, one of the first bass guitars I ever played on was formerly owned by D'arcy.) However, the whole reunion business feels very empty when you realize that Jimmy Chamberlin never parted ways with Corgan after the Pumpkin breakup. He continued to crash cymbals in Zwan and hammer beats for Billy's solo outings. It was more of a name change than a reunion.

Exhibit B is what gets the most fuss from the public. To put it in numbers, there are 10 different versions, 6 different tracklistings, 5 different cover art colors, and 3 different packaging styles to Zeitgeist. The worst part is, many of these versions are associated with 2 of the most feared and least attractive words in music culture: CORPORATE and PROPRIETARY. Look at it this way, let's say you're an american Pumpkins fan, but you don't use iTunes, and don't live near a Target or a Best Buy. Without paying ridiculous prices for imports, what will your options be? You could get the standard version, completely void of any bonuses, or the deluxe version, which includes a 76 page booklet. You'd be missing out on all 3 bonus tracks and 5 tribute cover songs. If I'm somehow missing the point of all these versions, please clue me in, but I believe the aim was to force fans to buy multiple copies of the album in order to get all the songs and spend more money.

But alas, here's the part of the post where I shock the crowd and actually defend Billy Corgan. First and foremost, it is unfair to place all the blame on Mr. Corgan, and I seriously doubt it was his idea to scattershot his songs over various markets. I believe (and hope) it was either an evil, number crunching robot in the basement of headquarters' skyscraper, or a gluttonous corporate pig in the penthouse of said skyscraper. Also, the way Zeitgeist was released was really an overexaggerated version of the way many singles are released these days. I mean, it's not uncommon for a single to have two 7" vinyl editons and a couple of CD releases as well, with different songs on each. While trying this method on an album surely crossed the line, it's not an original idea. And finally, Smashing Pumpkins' previous (and largely unnoticed) album "Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music" was released in an ultra-limited printing of only 25 copies that included the 2-LP album, and 3 seperate EPs. These were mailed out to a few select fans with instructions to distribute by any means necessary. Naturally, this meant internet downloads. In light of this, I believe a little bit of money earning can be forgiven. I mean, they gave away an entire double album and three EPs, c'mon. So as a word to all the frustrated people out there, I understand why you feel the way you do, but if you just try to understand, and go a little deeper than initial instinct, all can be forgiven. But it is now time for The Judge to present the sentence.

"With the power invested in me by the whole of The Fan and Consumer Collective, I hereby sentence thee, Billy Corgan, to a few signs of remorse (not just plugging you're new album at Live Earth without mentioning Earth itself), and the release of an international, one-format EP that includes, but is not limited to the three bonus tracks from Zeitgeist. Um, thank you and have a nice day."

Okay, so the trial's over with, so hopefully you read it and didn't just scroll down to these mp3s. First up is the opener to Machina II, "Glass' Theme", then another M2 track, "White Spyder". Both are pretty heavy and sound nice and dirty since they were recorded from the vinyl. Then, from the 5-disc set called "Mashed Potatoes" that Billy Corgan put together back in '94, it's a humorous live rendition of Steppenwolf's "Sookie Sookie" that the Pumpkins did sometime in 1990.

Smashing Pumpkins- "Glass' Theme" [Removed]
Smashing Pumpkins- "White Spyder" [Removed]
Smashing Pumpkins- "Sookie Sookie (Live 90)" [Removed]

Oh, and here's their latest single "Tarantula" recorded live at Live Earth.

Smashing Pumpkins- "Tarantula (Live at Live Earth)" [Removed]

Also, the entire "Machina II" album and the three EPs can be downloaded here. Enjoy.


3 Responses to “Billy Corgan: On Trial”

  1. # Anonymous Kels

    That was an awesome post. You make a good pop culture lawyer and Lindsey Lohan would be wise to hire you ASAP. I agree with you. Billy has been so supportive of giving free music to the fans: Machina 2; encouraging bootlegs of 2007 shows; allowing all the music on various fan sites to stay up for as long as they were. So I bought the Target and Best Buy versions of Zeitgeist and then took a free version of the iTunes track off a blog (nothing against Billy, but iTunes is satan). As I have since Gish, I will buy every album and single and concert ticket... AND will keep loading up on ten times as much beautiful bootlegs. Today's catch, Zwan at Shepards Bush. Beautiful.  

  2. # Blogger Pipe

    Haha thanks Kels keep checking in with us. For more great stuff. Oh and by the way iTunes is satan.  

  3. # Blogger TakeoffZebra

    thanks kels, although I think I'll have to let Lohan fend for herself. And yes, this whole proprietary bonus track thing sucks, but Corgan has enough good credit from the past to make up for it. I haven't heard much of Zwan's stuff, but I figure i need to fix that. Thanks a bunch for reading.  

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