20 years later Smashing Pumpkins’ Machina Still Challenges
This week marked the 20th Anniversary of the album that closed out the first chapter of the Smashing Pumpkins career. Since then there’s been reformations, reunions, a couple more records and looking into the future, an expected double disc concept record and tour with Guns N’ Roses before 2020 is done.
Machina/The Machines of God was an uphill battle back when it conceived a few decades ago. The Pumpkins had done a double album, but this was truly Corgan trying his hand at a concept record. With an entire backstory and characters for each member of the band to represent in homage to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars they went about recording 2 records worth of material with Melon Collie Producer Flood. But the record company, having taken a hit from the last SP release, Adore, wasn’t on board and the project was cut into 1 album. In response as the band was falling apart, they released the rest of the tracks, some only half finished, into the emerging internet with the intent to share with fans what could have been.
As late as last year Corgan teased on his Instagram that a reissue was coming and fans have expected this time around to get the album as originally intended. A few years ago on Youtube user Werideatdusk resequenced the tracks into 3 acts featuring some of the my favorite tracks from the unofficial release Friends and Enemies of Modern Music like Glass’ Theme and Cash Car Star sprinkled in with songs from the original release.
I remember not being a fan of this album when it first came out. I even passed on seeing the tour which I almost immediately regretted when the band broke up within the year. Adding salt to the wound within 12 months I would be a huge fan of Queens of the Stone Age and wouldn’t you know it when the Pumpkins came through town, Queens were opening. Given time and distance I do treasure at least half of the songs on Machina and I understand why the production on this record is so…challenging: Flood was trying to make sure the Pumpkins sounded like someone else. I appreciate the effort but I’d rather have more traditionally produced versions of these songs. Who knows? maybe that concept record fans are looking forward to this year is just a clearer re-recorded complete Machina experience.