Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins

The Aeroplane Flies High (reissue)

Columbia Records

Billy Corgan is doing everything he can to keep the Smashing Pumpkins in the spotlight. Let me rephrase that. He’s doing everything he can to keep Billy Corgan in the spotlight. From the continuing release of their 44-track album in parts, to opening a tea shop in Chicago, Corgan is basically following his id almost to a fault. That said, if that means Smashing Pumpkins fans get collections like the revamped The Aeroplane Flies High, then by all means let him continue in his id-chasing ways. This six-disc (or five LP or two different digital versions) behemoth of an album is a refreshed version of the 1996 five-disc, 33-track version that was basically the “existential backwater of the Mellon Collie album,” according to Corgan. Now expanded to a whopping 104 tracks, anything you ever needed, wanted, or didn’t want to know about the Pumpkins from the mid-’90s is here. But unlike most massive compilations, this is not hit-and-miss. It’s almost all hits. Heavy masterpieces like the instrumental “Movers and Shakirs,” which is very “Zero”-esque and a blistering live version of “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” mixed with the more (pardon the pun) melancholy “Stumbleine (Double Door Rehearsal)” and the country-fied live version of “Tonight, Tonight” are just the tip of Corgan and his crew at the pinnacle of their fame.

The real gems, however, come exactly where I wasn’t expecting. While there are tons of demos and live versions of their classics (which are fantastic), there are two tracks that really give the whole collection a feeling of being right there in studio with the band. “Porcelina” is a 12-minute+ expansive track that perfectly encompasses the band’s hard-edged energy and quiet intensity as something that, quite honestly, should be considered one of the best songs in the Pumpkins’ catalog. And it’s live. Utterly brilliant. The other track is a 23-minute mish-mash of outtakes that have absolutely no rhyme, reason, or consistent rhythm. “Pastichio Medley” is 30 to 90 second clips of randomness that place you right in the middle of the sessions with the band. Just when you start getting into a groove, the clip cuts to another completely different beat, guitar solo, vocal, whatever Corgan felt like at the time. This is where I started to get the true Smashing Pumpkins experience. I’ve always been a big fan and have loved the new reissues, but this collection and especially this track made me feel like I was actually a part of the band itself. Yes, there is everything here to keep every Pumpkinhead very happy. But there are also tracks that make you feel like you’re a part of the band, not just a fan. That is why this updated version of The Aeroplane Flies High is an absolute must-have for any Smashing Pumpkins fan.

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