The Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist
On July 10, 2007, "The Smashing Pumpkins" made a "Mini-Comeback" 7 years after its dissolution, with the album "Zeitgeist" - its seventh studio album.
Does it really deserve to be called a "comeback"? Stay with us and you will discover...
It all started on December 2, 2000, when "The Pumpkins" took the stage of "The Metro" in Chicago, to perform their last show. It was a wonderfully planned event. The location was carefully chosen as this is exactly where it all started 12 years earlier. On this stage, the band made their first-ever appearance. The lucky ones in the audience got to watch a four-and-a-half (!!) hour show, during which 35 songs from the band's short but bright career were played. The audience even received 2 more gifts. A recording of the band's first performance on the same stage - "Live at Cabaret Metro 10-5-88" and a copy of the band's last single recorded and released especially in honor of the event and called "Untitled", which also won a clip with videos and photos from all periods of the band. It was a happy-sad evening where the band celebrate its tremendous repertoire in a final and memorable show.
This "breakup" did not last long. In 2001, the band released the excellent compilation album "Rotten Apples", while Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin formed the supergroup "Zwan", which in 2003 released their only album "Mary Star of the Sea".
Even after the dissolution of "Zwan", Corgan and Chamberlain continued to collaborate, with Billy Corgan being featured on the 2005 album "Life Begins Again", of the Chamberlain side project "Jimmy Chamberlin Complex", while Chamberlain had a guest appearance on Corgan's first solo album "TheFutureEmbrace" released that year.
On the day the solo album "TheFutureEmbrace" was released in 2005, Corgan released a press statement saying he was "reviving" "The Smashing Pumpkins'.
Why are we telling you all this? Because in our opinion it is not really a union. First, the reunion did not include guitarist James Iha and bassist D'arcy Wretzky. Second, Corgan and Chamberlain who worked alone on this album did not really separate in the four years past since the farewell show.
Still, any album that includes the collaboration of the two is a musical celebration, even if this album is considered "weak" in the band's repertoire.
All the songs on the album were written by Billy Corgan. In the absence of the other members, Corgan and Chamberlain decided to play all the instruments themselves, exclusively and without any outside assistance, which was not really far from the way the band's albums were recorded in the past, when the perfectionist Corgan often performed the other band members musical roles.
On the occasion of the event, Corgan and Chamberlain decided to record the album "Live" analogously, directly to a recording reel, without editing, without clicks and uploads. This created a difficult problem for them to find a producer who would agree to work in this old-fashioned way, until they met the great producer Roy Thomas Baker, who, among others, was responsible for the productions of "Queen" masterpieces albums from the 1970s and worked with so many artists and bands like "Free" "Nazareth", "Journey", "Foreigner", "Mötley Crüe", Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper and more and more...
To complete the nostalgic "retro" vibe, the band chose to record the album in the home studio of Kerry Brown - the ex-husband of D'arcy Wretzky, on the same 24-channel tape on which the album "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" was recorded.
And if that wasn't enough, then producer Baker testified that the mixing process for the album was also really different. He noted that he did not interfere with the volume buttons of the channels. It was either "On" or "Off", either the channel was in or out.
In terms of content, this is one of the band's heavier albums. Corgan noted that he wanted to write an album with a lot of energy something that resembled the debut album "Gish" in terms of attitude. Chamberlain referred to his aggressive drumming on this album and said he thinks the world is ready for an album with "balls".
The aggressive drumming and heavy riffs are well reflected already in the opening track "Doomsday Clock" which also accompanied the soundtrack of the movie "Transformers" released that year. A powerful and sweeping song that in our opinion did not get the place it deserved in the band's huge repertoire. We can not explain why, but the riffs in this song and the song "Tarantula" sent us to the "Stoner Rock" districts of "Black Sabbath" and the likes from the seventies.
It is interesting to note that "Tarantula" - the first single released from the album is a kind of homage to the band "Scorpions", with whom Corgan collaborated on the song "The Cross" from the album "Humanity: Hour I", released in 2007. During the band's performance in Berlin on June 5, 2007, Corgan noted that "Tarantula" (venomous spider) was named so in honor of the band "Scorpions" and that the song's intro and outro were inspired by "Scorpions'" "Dark Lady" song, while he wrote the solo thinking about how maybe guitarist Uli Jon Roth could Have played it. Corgan and Chamberlain believe that the song embodies the music they have listened to all their lives, especially "Scorpions" and "UFO".
Corgan noted that the second single "That's the Way (My Love Is)" initially sounded like an outtake from the album "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" but he slowed it down and got a different drum beat that kept the song away from the days of "Melancholy".
Despite the heavy and relatively aggressiveness of the album as declared by Korgan and Chamberlain, you can also find here softer and more quiet tracks like "Neverlost" and "Pomp And Circumstances", songs full of synthesizers from the days of "Adore" like "For God and Country", Melodic songs like "7 Shades of Black" and "Starz" whose singing during the verses reminded us of "Metallica's" "The Thing That Should Not Be" and of course a bit of progressive -psychedelia with "United States" kissing the 10 minutes.
The reviews for the album were mixed. Some killed it, like "Allmusic" which gave it 2 out of 5 stars, and in contrast, there were those who praised it like "The Rolling Stone" magazine which gave the album 4 out of 5 stars. Our tendency is closer to that of "The Rolling Stone', we think this is a good album that did not deserve the cold reviews it was given.
Since the album is not on the streaming platforms, we have prepared a "Youtube" playlist, especially for you: Click Here.