Like most people not living under a rock or on the dark side of the Earth, I have heard of (and heard large parts of) this new Smashing Pumpkins
album which is making headlines. I have heard rumors of the tour. Like any good little music geek who was pretty frickin hardcore before it became too much work, I know where to go for news of these things. I checked a couple sites, among them the Pumpkins fetish site, Netphoria
, searching for information. I wanted to know the lineup. I couldn't find it. I found press releases from Billy, purporting to have most of the old band on board. I found quotes from James Iha saying he certainly wasn't on the album and had no intention of being involved with the tour-- if he'd even been invited. Don't even think about D'Arcy. Still, I couldn't find a list of who was
on the new album.
Then I went to YouTube
and just brute forced the answer. I know all these people by sight. It shouldn't be that hard to watch the video for Tarantula
and figure out who was playing what, right?
What I saw horrified me
Let's be clear, shall we? Billy Corgan, himself, does not constitute a Smashing Pumpkins lineup. Even having Jimmy there doesn't justify recording under a name we know and love. The Pumpkins were awesome, and now they are over. Okay. Bringing back the name, getting our hopes up, and then handing over a Billy album is cruel and unusual. James Iha's signiture guitar work, a vital component in the original Pumpkins sound, is conspicuous by it's abscence. That's Billy's twisted tenor, all right, the emo-before-it-was-emo psuedo-whine that worked so well with their New Wave sound, but nothing else.
Billy and Jimmy aren't the Pumpkins. Jimmy may be the only original Billy could agree to signing on, but he is and was frankly the most replacable. To be brutally honest, they could have replace Jimmy with a drum machine back in '95 and no one would have noticed. Losing D'Arcy to drugs altered their sound, but they got another bassist and kept going. I don't know who's on bass or lead guitar here, because I can't get the information out of anyone. This isn't the sound I know and love. I'm not saying Zeitgeist
is a bad album. I'm saying Billy needs to get a new godddamned name. This is as bad as the new The Who
lineup, and that's saying something.
If you want to listen to this record, fine. If you want to buy it, go ahead. If the only thing you remember of the Smashing Pumpkins
is Billy's penetrating voice and indecipherable lyrics, you'll have a blast. Just don't go looking for the weird rhythms and layered guitar work that was part of the old Pumpkins' sound, because this? This is a new band using someone else's name. Like when Diana Ross billed herself and some random ass backup singers as The Supremes
, so Billy has taken on the mantle of hubris, declaring himself to in fact be
the purest essence of his old band. Well, him and his drummer. At least Todd Lewis and the guys had the decency to call their new band something other than Toadies
, despite having a similar lineup and the same lead singer. And what The Burden Brothers
play is far more comparable to the old Toadies
sound than this new Pumpkins effort is to the band that gave us Siamese Dream
It isn't necessarily a bad record. I'm not saying it is, as long as you have absolutely no recollection of the band from before 1997. As a contemporary once said of Alexander Pope's translation, though: "It's very pretty, Mr Pope, but it is not Homer". Click here for absolutely nothing.