I try to ignore Smashing Pumpkins output post Machina II and breakup, it seems the only way to not taint the great memories I have of them during my formative musical years. From having my mind blown on the cusp of teenhood after seeing them in 1992 and many subsequent times, through to them calling it quits just after the turn of the century.
For the most of this year and especially the last few weeks Corgan has been gearing up for the remastered versions of Gish & Siamese Dream and they’re finally here, including a “hi-def” 24-bit 96khz remaster for the exacting audiophile.
Most remasters seem like cynical exercises these days, throw in a brighter mix with the volume ceiling raised at the expense of dynamics, some token additions and presto. If a band has great unreleased material I’ll usually bite, but this is is a rare case where the remaster is truly something to behold AND the band has better extras than any other in existance. These are probably the best remastering and “deluxe-ification” jobs that I have ever heard.
I’ve listened to both of these albums countless times since their release and I am still hearing things I had never fully noticed before, a lot. The definition and clarity of the instruments, especially the bass and the multiple guitar tracks is so perfect it feels as though you could carve a knife inbetween them. The mix gives the perfect amount of space to everything, it surrounds and drowns you in it’s aural bliss.
Corgan’s vocals sit with so much clarity in a few tracks that it practically transforms the entire song. Which is a good and bad thing, but almost 20 years on theres no need to contest such things. It is simply incredible to hear new life breathed into such a classic album, especially with Siamese Dream whose production value still remains incredibly fresh and current today.
Whilst hardcore fans will have heard 99% of the bonus material, the tracks also been given the remastering treatment and sound fantastic. There are also some neat/subtle changes such as alternate takes of guitar solos, or vocals etc. The combination serves as an incredible document of easily the most creative band of the 90’s if not any generation, at the peak of their power and experimentation. Their acid dealer must have been well fed during this period.
Last but not least and as Corgan’s way of outdoing everyone else, each remaster includes a live video DVD of a show at the Chicago Metro, one taken before Siamese dream and one post which highly the bands transformation into an absolute crushing powerhouse.
Also, Billy has done a few in-depth interviews regarding the albums and the band during this time, which offer some great insights. The best is with Matt Pinfield which is on SoundCloud but theres also Zane Lowe’s ‘MasterPieces’ program and a SP retrospective special on JBTV.com which features videos from the live disc.
Matt Pinfield intrvw: http://soundcloud.com/fmqb-productions/billycorgan-mattpinfield-seg1
Zane Lowe’s MasterPieces: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/zanelowe/masterpieces.shtml
JBTV live special: http://www.jbtvonline.com/episodes/smashing-pumpkins-jbtv-special