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Old 11-25-2021, 03:25 PM   #1
where is me
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Default The Rise and Fall of the Smashing Pumpkins

A lot of words has already been said.

Still, being a bit of a retro-romantic, I'd like to make a (new) thread about it. Specifically to question- how is it possible?

The first part of the Pumpkins, after releasing their first six studio albums and every release in between, there was such a unique beauty and energy. Songs being both pretty and loud, strange and dark, powerful, deep, melodic and touching.

Up until their departure in 2000 and the start of their decline, I'd say after the Zwan-era. And catching up further speed fast with the release of the horrible Oceania; and then releasing albums that almost degenerated by order of release. Nothing, to me, even remotely touched that early magnificence. A huge gap between the quality of music before and after this moment. Personally, I can't hardly find a shred of excitement in the Pumpkins post 2000.

Oversimplifying and comparing it to other great artists that released material over periods of decades, the heydays are mostly in their first part of existence. However, some artists mature in a beautiful way, releasing more atmospheric or acoustic material, that still holds their beautiful quality; losing their youthful rock 'n roll energy (but not their spirit).

As for the reasons, what I can come up with:
- Rock 'n Roll truly is only a young mans game. Corgan thrived on this energy and was in a circle of people that was also able to influence him.
- The change of voice... (still I think this is a big part, but also partly true. Cause, if there is any, I haven't heard any instrumental song that was as captivating post 2000.)
- A further inflation of his ego and lacking of people he listened to with other opinions.
- Producing his material mostly by himself.

Or could it be-- to turn it around: Was it just my own adolescence during which I heard their first era, that made me like it so much? And are their kids out there that grew up as a teenager in say 2008, and mostly value their music that came out around these years, but have lesser interest in their first period? I find it hard to believe.

I saw a thread recently on reddit that sums it up nicely.
https://www.reddit.com/r/SmashingPum...e_me_who_just/

Has a fall from grace from a major band ever been so great? And what do you think caused this?
And will he ever write or produce a song that can still captivate?


 
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Old 11-25-2021, 03:37 PM   #2
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many other bands have flown higher, and fallen faster.

Billy is still one of the very very lucky ones.

it's nearly impossible to sustain that level for an ongoing period.

Quote:
And will he ever write or produce a song that can still captivate?
he obviously has.
this is a basic (lame) measure of SP's success
https://www.billboard.com/artist/the-smashing-pumpkins/
and it's not much compared to BIGGER stars.

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 03:37 PM   #3
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i was 15 when OC came out. i liked it well enough and thought it was about as good as the stuff on rotten apples. but i was 15 and what did i know

took about 3 months to realize how vastly superior the good stuff was

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 03:58 PM   #4
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Interesting to hear. Must have been a great way to discover their music, getting more and more excited while you dived deeper!

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 04:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by T&T View Post
many other bands have flown higher, and fallen faster.

Billy is still one of the very very lucky ones.

it's nearly impossible to sustain that level for an ongoing period.


he obviously has.
this is a basic (lame) measure of SP's success
https://www.billboard.com/artist/the-smashing-pumpkins/
and it's not much compared to BIGGER stars.
Yeah, I think it is quite impossible to keep that level up for so long. But I find it surprising, that he hasn't released anything "SP2" that even came close to their early material. Or maybe I overlooked something.

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 05:01 PM   #6
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the market has changed.

IN 1996 the telecommunications act, which is good for a lot of things but loosens the restrictions on who can own how many stations fucked up everything. Clear Channel went on a buying spree, and this turns out to be Armageddon for rock radio. Suddenly one dude in Texas is programming nearly every alternative station in the country (or at least enough to dictate the tone for everyone else). Forget local scenesters bubbling up or weidos like with Ween and Presidents of the USA getting airplay - we got pop punk, rap rock, and boy bands on repeat. Music calcifies in 1999. You can even tell when it happens because Enema of the state topped the charts EVERYWHERE for ever.
And women dissapear from rock radio. completely. Lilith fair rans from 1997-1999 and puts out multiple double CD collections; by 2001 you'd think no woman but Gwen Stefani and Meg White ever touched an instrument. And entire burgeoning folk-rock ecosystem got snuffed out. Instead, we got Britney and Christina and the rest. which is FINE, and I don't hate pop punk either, and nu-metal... but that single TEXAN locus of musical control was NOT ok.

if you were a Gen Xer who went off to college, in a cocoon of college radio of 1996, coming back to mainstream radio in 2000 was like surveying an astroid aftermath.

Rock Music NEVER recovers. not really. sure we had a brief Stroke resurgence in 2001 thanks to the white stripes and the NYC scene, but it's nothing like before.

pleanty of stuff is wrong with the music right now. the incubation system and studio gatekeeping lables used to provide is gone. which is good because production/plubication has been democratized but it's also bad because no one is making any $$ and SOOO many songs just feel 75% finished

and pop and hiphops habits of using the SAME 10 producers for YEARS has glued those genres into stone. Please, i odn't want to hear another hi-hat triplet in my life ever again)

so when we feel like something went terribly wrong with the music industry, when we feel like the ideal era was 1991-94 (or 91-97), something DID go wrong.
as usual, the culprit was deregulation under capitalism
and as usual it's easier to point ant each other and say "you're doing it wrong, get over it" when the proper respons should be "damn, you guys got screwed, here's a hug, I wonder how else we are getting screwed".

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 07:02 PM   #7
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Capitalism or not, one could argue rock was pretty much over by the early 90s anyway. Nevermind just gave rock another good 5 years and a handful of great bands rode its coattails.

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 07:06 PM   #8
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There's still PLEANTY of good rock going on, it's just that the artists are making BANK on it like they did for that short blip...

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 07:08 PM   #9
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Capitalism or not, one could argue rock was pretty much over by the early 90s anyway. Nevermind just gave rock another good 5 years and a handful of great bands rode its coattails.

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 08:08 PM   #10
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the market has changed.

IN 1996 the telecommunications act, which is good for a lot of things but loosens the restrictions on who can own how many stations fucked up everything. Clear Channel went on a buying spree, and this turns out to be Armageddon for rock radio. Suddenly one dude in Texas is programming nearly every alternative station in the country (or at least enough to dictate the tone for everyone else). Forget local scenesters bubbling up or weidos like with Ween and Presidents of the USA getting airplay - we got pop punk, rap rock, and boy bands on repeat. Music calcifies in 1999. You can even tell when it happens because Enema of the state topped the charts EVERYWHERE for ever.
And women dissapear from rock radio. completely. Lilith fair rans from 1997-1999 and puts out multiple double CD collections; by 2001 you'd think no woman but Gwen Stefani and Meg White ever touched an instrument. And entire burgeoning folk-rock ecosystem got snuffed out. Instead, we got Britney and Christina and the rest. which is FINE, and I don't hate pop punk either, and nu-metal... but that single TEXAN locus of musical control was NOT ok.

if you were a Gen Xer who went off to college, in a cocoon of college radio of 1996, coming back to mainstream radio in 2000 was like surveying an astroid aftermath.

Interesting, I didn't know about exactly WHY the radio changed. I'm a little younger than the demographic you're talking about (born in 1990), but even I remember a shocking uniformity appearing in the early 2000s, aka the start of my adolescence. I loved the radio as a child because of how exciting it was, and by the time I got to high school in 2004, there were only 4 kinds of music being played...pop punk, rap and hip-hop influenced pop, techno, and country. So I had the experience of looking backwards and getting into the music I love. Right as everyone was quitting or dying.

The Pumpkins hadn't released anything bad yet, so I got the worst of both worlds with them. I was too late to see anything during their heyday, although I listened to it my whole adolescence, and was around for the full measure of disappointment in all their material from Zeitgeist onward. I became a fan right in the gap Machina-Zeitgeist gap. It's kind of amazing I was able to attach to them this much, but those first 12ish years are that good.

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 08:16 PM   #11
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There's still PLEANTY of good rock going on, it's just that the artists are making BANK on it like they did for that short blip...
There are some great bands out there but how many of them are truly relevant in popular culture?
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Fucking eh!

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 08:48 PM   #12
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It's crossed my mind the other day just how bizarre of an experience it is to be a "Fan" of a band/artist for so long. Like I first became aware of SP in '98. Became a troo fan around 2000. It's super weird to have this lifelong insight into another person's life like that. To some extent, many of us here have followed BC for most of his life. The lyrics, the blog posts, the many interviews. All those little details, quotes and tidbits strewn in cyberspace from so many years of having been in the spotlight. From when he was the hottest shit on the planet in the 90s, through the 2000s trying to figure it out in the wake of the great collapse, on to becoming more of an antagonistic figure engaging in a cold war with his fanbase, to wherever he's currently at - zuzu's, family, bitterness. etc.

To me, the OG years truly were pretty special. I don't know many bands who put out record after record like that for a decade with pretty much a good 85% being great fucking songs. The fall from grace is commonly attributed solely to BC - I guess that's the flipside of being the guy who insisted on taking all the credit and airing out that he in fact is the one who played all the parts on Siamese Dream. But, I don't think that that's true at all, and if you look at Jimmy and Iha today, they are clearly also very, very far from being the musicians they were in during that 90s run as well. They're just not in the forefront and their failure is much less obvious.

When the band peaked there truly was some special alchemy about them. Something about exact nature in which their personalities collided, at that exact time. The abuse of BC's childhood irrepressibly coming crashing out. The band's fortune of just happening to recruit one of the most phenomenally explosive and musical drummers of all time, exactly during a time in his life when his mentality and drug abuse (arguably) contributed to a volatile and irreproducible style, even to himself (Ram if you're reading this post it does not condone drug use).

Re: fall from grace.
I think at some point from Adore/Machina onward, the band\BC's output became strangely meta, or maybe better to say ars poetic, itself being about the very process that fuels it. Songs being about the band itself falling apart, addressing band members (my mistake/vanity/LMGTWTY/try/lyric/united states/countless others), or the aftermath of trying to pick oneself up and move forward as a musician without the band's shelter. Most post-2000 BC songs I listen to, what I hear is him still dealing in some way with that breakup or its aftermath, and I really believe it was the single biggest heartbreak of his life, one that he still hasn't truly recovered from. More so than any other abuse or what have you.

On a side note, while I truly cannot bare to listen to anything post 2007, I came to appreciate Zeitgeist as the record that really accurately finalizes the pumpkins legacy once and for all, before it all went to hell and entered self-sabotaging territory: on a cold, clinical, barren, metallic note, with lyrics simultaneously about reacquiring power and helpless jadedness, through completely bored and straight faced singing. Like a structure with all the ornaments and embellishments that once made it striking ripped away, and only the pillars left standing for a short while more.

 
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Old 11-25-2021, 10:36 PM   #13
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Interesting thoughts here. I think a lot of the music post reunion has been solid with material that is reminiscent of pre-breakup SP. I'm not saying its the same, but I do feel they share the same DNA. That's The Way, Sunkissed, Again Again Again, Owata(acoustic Chris Isaak version not recorded version), Inkless, G.L.O.W., Panopticon, Pinwheels, One and All, and With Sympathy all have traces of SP in them. I enjoyed Cyr and thought there were a lot of good things about it. Whether people like the new material or not, I think changing the styles and production up a bit is totally fine and actually saves the old music from being too diluted by the new stuff.

I think the main problem is Billy and his extreme defensiveness just to things in general. I've never met him, but something about the guy pre-breakup seems much more real and gracious than the guy who is interviewed now, at least a lot of the time. The need to self-congratulate himself all the time, all the stupid word salad rants about just about everything, never bringing in any outside influence to help reignite the band, the ridiculous and unwarranted praising of Rick Rubin, putting sought after releases exclusively on vinyl, the stage costumes, and the list goes on. He's constantly going on about how he and other rockstars are geniuses and more special than the next person. It's all kind of arrogant and just generally lacks awareness as well as any real insight. I'm not saying there's not good things about him. The Gish anniversary party was a really pleasant surprise, as I didn't think he could just kickback and celebrate with the fans like that, but he could and it was nice to see.

Of course its no surprise that any band or any entertainer in general would experience a decrease in popularity, especially SP considering they did things to directly sabotage their's. But I think the alienation the hardcore fanbase feels has more to do with Billy's behavior than the musical output.

 
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Old 11-26-2021, 03:30 AM   #14
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I think the main problem is Billy and his extreme defensiveness just to things in general. I've never met him, but something about the guy pre-breakup seems much more real and gracious than the guy who is interviewed now, at least a lot of the time.
I do know what you're getting at there.
I've rarely seen a person who has -- in the past 20 years--seemed to have undergone a kind of psychological regression. By that I mean the 30-year-old BC seemed far more insightful, in-touch, grounded, and mature than the 50-year-old BC. That is quite unusual to not only not gain some degree of wisdom, perspective, and social/psychological/emotional maturity with age but to actually seem to lose a bit of it with time.

I remember distinctly the Adore era. This seemed to be the peak of BC's mental maturity. The death of his mother, breakup of his marriage, and loss of his drummer seemed to have actually humbled him in some rather profound way--at least temporarily. Never had (or has) he felt more like a real fucking human. There was something so incredibly unpretentious and earnest about him around this time in his life. He dropped a lot of the pretensions. Even if Adore wasn't my favorite album exactly, I could respect that is was part of his life journey. Or whatever. It was real.

It's easy to imagine that this past BC of which I speak would actually be rather appalled upon meeting his future self.

Last edited by stumpycat : 11-26-2021 at 03:38 AM.

 
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Old 11-26-2021, 06:57 AM   #15
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Best to just buckle up and enjoy the ride when following BC and all things Pumpkins really, it's always idiosyncratic and at least interesting on some level even if I don't like all of the music or choices made

Really, I'm glad the guy is still alive and we have a band together in the most functional way it could be at this point. I'd much rather have a grouchy Corgan making the odd dodgy album than him be dead like some of my other favourite musicians and I get the feeling we probably came close at points. If you watch interviews like the Chris Isaak one he's clearly not in a good place then

 
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Old 11-26-2021, 01:13 PM   #16
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I think it's a combination of WPCs refusal to "play the game", SP1s music simply not being evergreen/timeless and hardcore fans being in some sort of arrested development.

 
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Old 11-26-2021, 02:04 PM   #17
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Or could it be-- to turn it around: Was it just my own adolescence during which I heard their first era, that made me like it so much? And are their kids out there that grew up as a teenager in say 2008, and mostly value their music that came out around these years, but have lesser interest in their first period? I find it hard to believe.
This is a big point I don't often see people talk about, at least in my opinion. I got into SP right as Monuments was coming out at age 21 and having been super familiar with a few songs already I basically found myself digging deep into the MCIS Deluxe editon B-sides (I was already well acquainted with the album proper from when I was a kid) while also getting to know Monuments at the same time. I can honestly I liked them both equally and the further I went down the SP rabbit hole I never ran across an album or song that I didn't like.

Not knowing anything about the inner workings of the bands eras/other fans opinions on their newer albums I think really helped me take it all in as one. Of course I had my favorites but there was no negativity surrounding it for me.

Since then I've naturally listened less and less and now having that in depth knowledge of the band's history and more insight into Billy's personality I'm much more in line with most people here where I think Billy is just kind of a douche and none of the new stuff can even touch the 90's output. I would still probably say I "like" Zeitgeist to Monuments but I never listen to them anymore and have no desire to. I was very unmoved by Shiny and Cyr and am not really looking forward to what comes next. I feel like it's the same path of cynicism most people here followed who have been fans for a lot longer than I have. Difference being that sense of negativity for most started with Zeitgeist in most cases.

 
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Old 11-26-2021, 02:41 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teh b0lly!!1 View Post
It's crossed my mind the other day just how bizarre of an experience it is to be a "Fan" of a band/artist for so long. Like I first became aware of SP in '98. Became a troo fan around 2000. It's super weird to have this lifelong insight into another person's life like that. To some extent, many of us here have followed BC for most of his life. The lyrics, the blog posts, the many interviews. All those little details, quotes and tidbits strewn in cyberspace from so many years of having been in the spotlight. From when he was the hottest shit on the planet in the 90s, through the 2000s trying to figure it out in the wake of the great collapse, on to becoming more of an antagonistic figure engaging in a cold war with his fanbase, to wherever he's currently at - zuzu's, family, bitterness. etc.

To me, the OG years truly were pretty special. I don't know many bands who put out record after record like that for a decade with pretty much a good 85% being great fucking songs. The fall from grace is commonly attributed solely to BC - I guess that's the flipside of being the guy who insisted on taking all the credit and airing out that he in fact is the one who played all the parts on Siamese Dream. But, I don't think that that's true at all, and if you look at Jimmy and Iha today, they are clearly also very, very far from being the musicians they were in during that 90s run as well. They're just not in the forefront and their failure is much less obvious.

When the band peaked there truly was some special alchemy about them. Something about exact nature in which their personalities collided, at that exact time. The abuse of BC's childhood irrepressibly coming crashing out. The band's fortune of just happening to recruit one of the most phenomenally explosive and musical drummers of all time, exactly during a time in his life when his mentality and drug abuse (arguably) contributed to a volatile and irreproducible style, even to himself (Ram if you're reading this post it does not condone drug use).

Re: fall from grace.
I think at some point from Adore/Machina onward, the band\BC's output became strangely meta, or maybe better to say ars poetic, itself being about the very process that fuels it. Songs being about the band itself falling apart, addressing band members (my mistake/vanity/LMGTWTY/try/lyric/united states/countless others), or the aftermath of trying to pick oneself up and move forward as a musician without the band's shelter. Most post-2000 BC songs I listen to, what I hear is him still dealing in some way with that breakup or its aftermath, and I really believe it was the single biggest heartbreak of his life, one that he still hasn't truly recovered from. More so than any other abuse or what have you.

On a side note, while I truly cannot bare to listen to anything post 2007, I came to appreciate Zeitgeist as the record that really accurately finalizes the pumpkins legacy once and for all, before it all went to hell and entered self-sabotaging territory: on a cold, clinical, barren, metallic note, with lyrics simultaneously about reacquiring power and helpless jadedness, through completely bored and straight faced singing. Like a structure with all the ornaments and embellishments that once made it striking ripped away, and only the pillars left standing for a short while more.
Yeah well put. I like the way you describe: "I think at some point from Adore/Machina onward, the band\BC's output became strangely meta, or maybe better to say ars poetic, itself being about the very process that fuels it."

Like a dog chasing its own tail/.

 
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Old 11-26-2021, 02:57 PM   #19
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The fuck's going on around here, people? Who has time to read ALL THIS?



 
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Old 11-26-2021, 08:58 PM   #20
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I groaned as soon as I realized what this thread was about. On the one hand, I completely understand it this is the most important question, perhaps the only important question, when it comes to this band. On the other hand, we've armchair-psychologized this to death over decades, and ultimately, we're never going to have an answer. Stephen King fans can point to the exact early books of his that he doesn't remember writing because he was so coked up at the time; they can refer to him getting hit by a car to explain why his output after that took a marked turn for the worse. We don't have any concrete milestones like that for Billy. Or at least nothing he's ever discussed.

What he has discussed, however, is meeting a shapeshifter. He says it happened twice, in fact. He's offered no details about when this happened, but I would like to propose that the first incident happened at some point in the late Adore era, where the figure seemed to scan him and imparted mysterious, arcane information to him. I further propose that the second incident happened immediately after the Machina tour ... and that the shapeshifter took over Billy's identity. The real Bill is in an intergalactic zoo, where he has been serenading creatures from a million planets with the most soul-shatteringly beautiful melodies you will never hear. Pod Person Bill's motives remain unclear, unless future events important to the creature and/or its race depend on Corgan's reputation being ruined over the course of the rest of "his" life. This may be a Bill and Ted sort of situation, I'm not sure.

 
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Old 11-27-2021, 01:53 AM   #21
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SP1 - obviously amazing.
Zwan - loved it, could have been Billy's Wings.
TFE - loved it, ahead of its time.
SP2, SP3, SP4 - sucks.

Zeitgeist was a strong album, but everything surrounding "the comeback" sucked.

 
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Old 11-27-2021, 03:29 AM   #22
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Honestly still don't know the difference between SP 3 and 4

 
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Old 11-27-2021, 06:36 AM   #23
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SP1 - obviously amazing.
Zwan - loved it, could have been Billy's Wings.
TFE - loved it, ahead of its time.
SP2, SP3, SP4 - sucks.

Zeitgeist was a strong album, but everything surrounding "the comeback" sucked.
Disagree, the live shows 2007 were some of the best I've seen (despite Jeff's cape), really good setlists

A lot of the rest was questionable though, the whole aesthetic seemed so un-Pumpkinsy, like a bad photocopy of American Idiot by Green Day

 
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Old 11-27-2021, 07:35 AM   #24
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is sp3 without jimmy, and sp4 with jimmy again?

does james's return denote a new version?

 
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Old 11-27-2021, 08:34 AM   #25
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and yet they still sell shows to 10-15k fans, which few rock bands do

 
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Old 11-27-2021, 01:09 PM   #26
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is sp3 without jimmy, and sp4 with jimmy again?

does james's return denote a new version?
This also means that just Zeitgeist is SP2, and I'm not sure that deserves its own title outside of "Zeitgeist era"

 
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Old 11-27-2021, 02:43 PM   #27
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and yet they still sell shows to 10-15k fans, which few rock bands do
There's definitely still some name recognition with the band. They still get written about, whenever there's a music festival they're in they are still listed as the headliner even with other recognizable names on the bill. I remember that the reunion tour didn't sell as well as expected but they could get away with playing the arenas even if they weren't packed. Although considering the album sales a lot of the people attending those concerts don't have a lot of interest in the current output. But there's no doubt the band still has some social currency. Billy is still interviewed by Howard Stern and Zane Lowe. People can draw their own conclusions about those guys but they are able to interview the most popular music stars in the world, so it does show that SP is not out of the picture completely.

 
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