SMASHING PUMPKINS GREATEST HITS VIDEO COLLECTION
Reviewed December 6th, 2001 by David Nusair
When Billy Corgan announced that the Smashing Pumpkins would be disbanding at the end of 2000, the reaction among the fan community was a singular one: Devastation. How could this band – arguably one of the greatest rock ‘n roll bands ever – stop producing music when their level of quality hadn’t yet begun to decrease? Heck, the Rolling Stones stopped making decent albums back in the ‘70s, but that hasn’t prevented them from churning out disc after disc. Corgan admitted that the lackluster sales of their latest albums, combined with the ever-growing popularity of mindless pop, was a contributing factor to the split. But he did promise fans a surge of Pumpkins related material, kicking off with a greatest hits CD and DVD.
The easy thing to do would have been to simply throw all the videos onto a DVD and call it a day. But the band didn’t do that – rather, they’ve included a lot of behind-the-scenes material and even commentary for each video. Instead of being just a perfunctory release intended to cash in on the band name, this disc is a perfect example of how to do a greatest hits package the right way. Even non-fans of the Pumpkins would be hard-pressed to dismiss this collection.
Included is every video ever produced for each album put out by the Pumpkins. In order, they are: Siva, Rhinoceros, Cherub Rock, Today, Disarm, Rocket, Bullet with Butterfly Wings, 1979, Zero, Tonight, Tonight, Thirty-Three, Ava Adore, Perfect, The Everlasting Gaze, Stand Inside Your Love, Try, Try, Try, and Untitled (this one isn’t the video that’s currently playing on music stations, which was just a compilation of various live moments – instead, it features the band recording the song). The Untitled video, by the way, is an easter egg (which is kind of bizarre, given that it’s mentioned on the back of the DVD). To access it, from the main menu, scroll down to the “extras” selection with your remote and then press the left arrow. The only Pumpkins video that isn’t included is The End is the Beginning is the End, which was featured on the Batman and Robin soundtrack. Rumor has it that this is due to Warner Bros. hoarding the video for their upcoming special edition of the film.
The inclusion of all those videos would’ve been enough to keep any Pumpkins fan happy, but wait, there’s more! You also get the full-length Try, Try, Try short movie (directed by Jonas Akerlund), which runs around 15-minutes. While the movie itself is a little on the pretentious and bleak side, the fact that it has even been included is something. You also get a couple of live performances, starting with a 1993 performance of Geek USA. This was one of the very last times the Pumpkins performed in a small club, so the energy in this clip is electric. Also included (and what makes the entire DVD worth buying) is a clip from the bands final performance at the small club in Chicago where they got their start. The clip features the band performing a song called An Ode to No One, and it’s amazing. The energy and enthusiasm in this clip is really something to watch, and will likely make you salivate for the upcoming release of the entire Metro performance. Finally, you get a previously unreleased video for I Am One, a song off their first album. Whew!
Audio: All the videos and extra features are presented with a DD 2.0 soundtrack and they sound great. The songs are crisp and clear, and make appropriate use of the front channels. If you’ve got a decent set-up, this is an ideal way to view these videos.
Video: Obviously, given that each video has a different director, the video quality varies. In some cases (Ava Adore, Perfect), the video quality is flawless – but in other cases, the quality is intentionally grainy or makes use of various filters or other different camera lenses (Today and Try, Try, Try). My only complaint regarding the transfer would be that the few letterboxed videos aren’t anamorphically enhanced. Other than that, they all look superb.
Extras: With the exception of Rocket and Try, Try, Try, each video is accompanied by a separate angle containing behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot (the Rocket video’s alternate angle contains just the live performance of the video, while Try, Try, Try oddly enough doesn’t even have a second angle). These glimpses of what goes into makes a video are often quite fascinating and provide a rare look at the band members with their guard down. Also included for each video is a commentary track, featuring the band members (minus D’arcy, who seems to have disappeared of the face of the Earth since the split) and the various directors. The commentary for each video is often quite interesting and it’s certainly a treat to hear directly from Corgan what he had envisioned for his videos. The 1979 video is accompanied by a second audio commentary track, which features the band members and the two directors talking about how the footage from the initial shoot was lost, and how they had to re-shoot the entire thing. The Today video also includes a secondary commentary track, with “Jakeez Betbetba” – a strange fellow with a heavy accent that, one would suspect, is an inside joke among the band members (some have even speculated that “Jakeez” is in fact guitarist James Iha disguising his voice).
Though hard-core Pumpkins fans will probably enjoy this set the most, even a casual listener will be able to appreciate the care and hard work that’s gone into putting this disc together.
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