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2008-01-08

Album Spotlight: Smashing Pumpkins - Machina II

Sometime in the mid-1990s, I decided that I didn't want to listen to any music that was really popular at the time. I was a teenager and just wanted to be as different as I could be. I had my own favourite artists, mainly in the metal and progressive rock genres, and I figured I was fine listening to what I liked. Unfortunately, about a decade later I began to realize just how much great music I had shut myself off to, and for the last few years I have been doing a lot of catching up on music that I had missed out on. That can get expensive at times, so it's always nice to find some of that music available for free.

One band that I was always kind of a casual fan of is The Smashing Pumpkins. I liked a lot of the songs that I heard, such as "Today", "1979", and "Tonight Tonight", but never really enough that I wanted to buy any of their albums; I'm sure my elitist attitude didn't exactly help. I'm sure I'll eventually get around to obtaining some of their albums, but recently I was delighted to discover that one of their albums was released for free on the Internet. The album is called Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music and was released in 2000; until their reformation in 2007, it was actually their final studio album.

Not only is it free, but it is also a very good album. There is a lot of heavy rock, such as the rapid-fire album opener "Glass", the slower "Dross", and a cover of James Brown's "Soul Power". There are also a lot of more melodic songs like "Real Love", "Go", and "If There is a God". Also included in the download is a collection of "B-sides" to the album, which include alternate versions of a few of the songs, including a beautiful piano & vocals version of "If There is a God", which is one of the true highlights of the album. Some other highlights of the B-sides include "Slow Dawn", a melodic, mid-tempo number with a wonderfully warm sound, and "Try", a nice poppy song.

Now, because of the nature of this album's release (only 25 vinyl copies were made and distributed to online Smashing Pumpkins fans, with instructions to redistribute it on the Internet for free), there are a number of sources to download it from. I don't know if any of these sources is better than the others; the one I have does sound a little muffled, but it is definitely listenable and doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the album at all. The Wikipedia page about the album lists the following sources:

SmashingPumpkins.com (160 kbit/s CBR MP3) (doesn't seem to be available now) 
Billy-Corgan.com (320 kbit/s CBR MP3) (no longer available)
ThePumpkins.net (192 kbit/s CBR MP3)
MetroChicago.com (192 kbit/s CBR MP3)
Archive.org (192 kbit/s CBR MP3)
Archive.org (Q101 transfer, FLAC, OGG and MP3)
Archive.org (Virgin transfer, FLAC, OGG and MP3)
SPIFC.org (192 kbit/s CBR MP3) (seems to require a password now)

Please let me know in the comments what you think of the album, The Smashing Pumpkins in general, or your opinion of what is the best download source for this album.  Happy listening!

2 comments:

Corey Stories said...

First of all, thanks for putting this blog up! I was having a hard time finding a place to download it where I didn't have to pay, register for something, etc.

As for the pumpkins in general- they are one of my top three favorite bands ever. I'm about to graduate from a music school, and I can say that the songwriting emotionally and technically is pretty near FLAWLESS. It's absurd.

To give you a feel for some different eras, I'd recommend getting their greatest hits : ]

Jeff said...

Thank you for the kind words, Corey.

Have you heard the new Pumpkins song yet? I wrote a post about it here. I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of the album as it's released.

I definitely need to check out more of their work. A greatest hits album might be right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation!