It’s strange knowing that the newfangled Smashing Pumpkins have been together for nearly as long as the original lineup of Billy Corgan, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin and D’arcy Wretzky. Like so many other rock bands, in-fighting, drugs and egos tore apart what was one of the best live bands of the ’90s, but nostalgia and a yearning for better times (also giving the audience what they want) have seen various members of the original Pumpkins reuniting.
In recent months, head Pumpkin Billy Corgan has been hinting at a Pumpkins reunion album with the original lineup which will surely coincide with a tour, so there’s no better time to look back at the best live shows from the original Pumpkins that we can watch and enjoy right now. Ah, technology.
We’ll go in chronological order by album with some oldies, goodies, and rarities. Some of these performances can be found on the remastered and reissued original catalog albums, while others have simply survived the test of time (VHS).
This is the earliest full iteration of the Pumpkins. Jimmy, the last member to be added to the band, is on drums, but the sound is still new-wavey/goth jams which would evolve into their unique alternative rock. This isn’t the best, but it’s decent for fans of psychedelic music with lots of feedback. These are the seeds that would grow into the Pumpkins we know and love.
Arguably the best track on their first album, “Rhinoceros” is a slow tempo, brooding groove that eventually builds into a rocker that would set the template for their later work. You can hear producer Butch Vig’s influence, as well as the whole loud quiet loud that the Pixies introduced to the world years earlier. This is an interesting version because it’s shortened for TV, but doesn’t lack the noise that would propel the Pumpkins to fame in just a few years.