Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins

Earphoria

Virgin

I’m not entirely sure as to the point of this release. Yes, I’m sure that somewhere there is money to be made, as is usually the case when below average compilations or live albums get released — and I’d be fairly confident that Billy Corgan had little to do with this one getting out, seeing as to its various imperfections. When I first received Earphoria, knowing nothing about the new expanded DVD for Vieuphoria, I was just plain confused. Now knowing that this CD is primarily a companion piece to the newly released DVD, I can understand its choice of tracks a bit better, but not the need for it to exist in the first place.

Earphoria is a collection of live Pumpkins’ tunes (some culled from concerts, others from televsion appearances) from their 1993-94 world tour, mixed in with bizarre and totally unsatisfying “new” songs here and there. The performances themselves are sometimes wonderful and sometimes horrible — while “Cherub Rock” maintains its beauty in an acoustic version, “Disarm” loses all meaning and poignancy when amplified into a distorted rock song. In addition, the latest track to be found here comes from 1994, so many Pumpkins fans will no doubt be disappointed that over half of the band’s songs weren’t even up for consideration on this album. Again, why they couldn’t have added on tracks from later dates — seeing as how it is now eight years later — I’m not quite sure.

And in the end, the bad simply outweighs the good. For every inspired rendition — the aforementioned “Cherub Rock” and a lovely acoustic version of “Mayonaise” spring to mind — there are two extended jam versions of songs that were only marginally good to begin with. I have no idea why they felt the need to stretch out an average song like “Silverfu*k” to a massive 13:27 track. Though it does have a nice little passage into “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” this still does not forgive it it’s masturbatory extended noodling guitar solos. If I wanted to hear Phish, I’d get a Phish album.

So who is this album for then? Honestly, I have no idea. If I had to say, I’d go with the record company that released it, the ones trying to squeeze that last little bit of juice from the Pumpkins’ legacy. Even die-hard fans — and I would not count myself among their number, though I have liked a few of their albums — would be advised to stay away from this disc, if for no other reason than that you can do much better to simply rent or buy the corresponding DVD, which I am sure would make a lot more sense, and be a lot more fun to watch. As it is, Earphoria is unnecessary and only marginally interesting at best.

Virgin Records: http://www.virginrecords.com

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