Deep Album Cuts Vol. 112: Smashing Pumpkins

Like Guns N' Roses a couple years ago, Smashing Pumpkins are currently on a partial reunion tour, with some if not all of the band's classic lineup playing together for the first time in many years, which is enough to generate a decent amount of excitement around a band that's been burning bridges with fans for longer than its peak era ever lasted. I have a lot of affection for the band's old records, though, no matter how embarrassing Billy Corgan becomes. And believe me, I will refer to them without the 'The' that started regularly appearing in the name around the time of Mellon Collie when possible; it's just a better name if it's evoking the act of smashing a pumpkin rather than some pumpkins that just look smashing or whatever.

Smashing Pumpkins deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Hummer
2. Jellybelly
3. Geek U.S.A.
4. Snail
5. Here Is No Why
6. Soma
7. Daphne Descends
8. Stumbleine
9. Frail & Bedazzled
10. Bury Me
11. Love
12. Mouths Of Babes
13. Wound
14. Mayonaise
15. Bodies
16. Starla

Tracks 4 and 10 from Gish (1991)
Tracks 1, 3, 6 and 14 from Siamese Dream (1993)
Tracks 9 and 16 from Pisces Iscariot (1994)
Tracks 2, 5, 8, 11 and 15 from Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995)
Track 12 from The Aeroplane Flies High (1996)
Track 7 from Adore (1998)
Track 13 from Machina/The Machines Of God (2000)

"Hummer" felt really good to me as track 1, even before I saw that last month it was the opener for the band's first full show with James Iha in nearly 20 years. I think Smashing Pumpkins' '90s output stands shoulder to shoulder with pretty much any of the decade's biggest bands, and in some ways the sheer variety and ambition really dwarfs their peers, even though 90% of the hits you still hear today are from just 2 albums. Of course, Billy Corgan's unapologetic '70s classic rock vibes and desire to make a big ridiculous double album is tied up with a lot of the things people justifiably hate about him, so your mileage may vary. But I think their stuff has aged pretty well, I'd put Siamese Dream against just about any alt-rock blockbuster. I'm pretty weary of the overly calculated angst anthems like "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" that sounded so amazing to me as a teenager, though -- nowadays I feel the most nostalgia for the minor singles that don't get played on the radio anymore, like "Muzzle" or "Drown" or "Rocket" or "Perfect."

Often I can be a stickler for the album qua album and leave alone things like compilations of b-sides and outtakes in these playlists. But Smashing Pumpkins released 2 such collections at the peak of their popularity that both went platinum (although of course The Aeroplane Flies High didn't have to sell that many copies to go platinum, since it was 5 discs). I love Pisces Iscariot at least as much as Gish and any proper album after Mellon Collie (I've always had a hard time really getting into Gish, but "Snail" was probably the song that I really fell in love with the most making this playlist). "Starla" is clearly just one of the band's best songs period and even the minor experiments on there sound great. For ages I thought of "Frail & Bedazzled" as a single because WHFS played it a bunch before "Landslide" became the big hit from that record, but it turns out it was never an official charting single, so I was happy to be able to include it.

The amount of quality music Smashing Pumpkins released on Mellon Collie and the singles collected on The Aeroplane Flies High in the space of a little over a year is still kind of mind-boggling to me. We're talking CCR in 1969 or Lil Wayne or Future's mixtape runs, just a staggering amount of quality music coming out every few months for a while there. But that era came to such an abrupt and tragic end with the death of Jonathan Melvoin and firing of Jimmy Chamberlin that I don't think the band ever really recovered.

I know people who hold up Adore as a masterpiece but I've tried over and over to warm up to it but I still only like a handful of scattered songs. I don't even mind the more mellow electronic sound they pursued in Chamberlin's absence, but by that point I thought "Love" and "1979" were already as good as anything they'd ever make in that style. And they're just not half as exciting a rock band to me without Chamberlin; I kind of regret that the one time I've seen the band live was when they had some other drummer for a few years. I still haven't heard Machina II, which has never been properly released after it became one of the first internet-only releases from a major act, but I've heard good things about it, so that's something I'm happy I can still discover whenever they get around to reissuing it.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 71: Fantasia
Vol. 72: Heart
Vol. 73: Pitbull
Vol. 74: Nas
Vol. 75: Monica
Vol. 76: The Cars
Vol. 77: 112
Vol. 78: 2Pac
Vol. 79: Nelly
Vol. 80: Meat Loaf
Vol. 81: AC/DC
Vol. 82: Bruce Springsteen
Vol. 83: Pearl Jam
Vol. 84: Green Day
Vol. 85: George Michael and Wham!
Vol. 86: New Edition
Vol. 87: Chuck Berry
Vol. 88: Electric Light Orchestra
Vol. 89: Chic
Vol. 90: Journey
Vol. 91: Yes
Vol. 92: Soundgarden
Vol. 93: The Allman Brothers Band
Vol. 94: Mobb Deep
Vol. 95: Linkin Park
Vol. 96: Shania Twain
Vol. 97: Squeeze
Vol. 98: Taylor Swift
Vol. 99: INXS
Vol. 100: Stevie Wonder
Vol. 101: The Cranberries
Vol. 102: Def Leppard
Vol. 103: Bon Jovi
Vol. 104: Dire Straits
Vol. 105: The Police
Vol. 106: Sloan
Vol. 107: Peter Gabriel
Vol. 108: Led Zeppelin
Vol. 109: Dave Matthews Band
Vol. 110: Nine Inch Nails
Vol. 111: Talking Heads
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