Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rarities #21: The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits (2001)

Also known as Rotten Apples, this greatest hits compilation marked the end of the first Smashing Pumpkins era. Culling hits from their debut album Gish all the way to their final album Machina/The Machines Of God, this album includes one track, Untitled, recorded days before their final concert as well.

This limited edition of the album includes a bonus disc of B-sides and rarities, titled Judas O.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Collectibles #17: Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (2007)

Zeitgeist is the Smashing Pumpkins' 6th studio album, their first in 7 years, but with only 2 of the original lineup remaining - lead singer/songwriter Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

After achieving mainstream success with their 2nd and 3rd albums (Siamese Dream & Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness respectively), Smashing Pumpkins' next two releases were perceived as duds, prompting them to break up.

After venturing out on their own solo careers (Billy Corgan and Chamberlin formed the band Zwan, Chamberlin also had a brief stint with Jimmy Chamberlin Complex), the 2 key personnel decided to reunite and revive the Smashing Pumpkins. Only without James Iha (guitar/vocals) and D'arcy Wretzky (bass/vocals) returning.

The result is Zeitgeist, and it debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 album charts. Reviews have been mixed at best. The Pumpkins have started touring and maybe they will be able to gain some new fans after the tour.

This version here is the limited special edition which contains 76 colour pages. I haven't opened it yet so I don't know how it looks like on the inside.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Rarities #20: Garbage (1995)

'Nuff said about the hits and how good the songs were. This post shall be about my memories of the albums and the songs in it.

Can still remember the time when I was a huge fan of the 987FM weekly chart show, Top 10 On 10, which was hosted every Friday night. It was a one-hour countdown and it started at 8pm I think. I would rush home to listen to it, and even bring a portable radio to the bathroom to listen to it while I was showering!

Anyway, point is, I remember the time when the DJ was commenting about this new band and how they came up with their name. They said they applied with some registry and there were 2 names available. One of them was "Garbage" and the other was something I can't remember. But they chose Garbage anyway.

I also remember being a little superstitious, and whenever we had some outdoor event or concert, I would try very hard not to think about the song Only Happy When It Rains. Of course, trying not to think about it made it much harder not to think about it. But thankfully, it didn't rain most of the time when the tune inadvertently drifted into my head.

There was once when my sister's friends were staying over at our place, and the song Stupid Girl came on the radio. Being very cheeky, I told one of her friends that the song was dedicated to her. She was more in tune with Mandarin pop so she hadn't heard of the song before. So she put her ears to the speaker and tried to hear what song it was.

She kept asking me what it was cos I think the radio didn't have very good reception as well. So finally when the chorus came, I told her "There! It describes you!" She still didn't get it until a few times later. But she wasn't pissed lah haha.

When Garbage popped by Singapore for a concert at the now-defunct Harbour Pavillion, I remember the picture on the cover of Life! the following day was one of Shirley Manson in front of a mic stand draped with the pink feather boa, just like the one on the album cover. I wish I had gone for that.

So yeah, those were my memories of Garbage and their debut album. And that was 12 years ago can you believe it. If you have Garbage stories to share, please feel free to leave your comments. I'm sure it'll be interesting to hear them. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rarities #19: Garbage - Version 2.0 (1998)

Version 2.0 = 2.0 x goodness. Right from the start, the album goes into full drive and never lets up. Packed with hits that I mentioned in my previous posts, every song here is a gem. It's hard to single out a fave, but Hammering In My Head stands out as being the most intense and excellent track. Just listen to the ending of the song. It's as if Shirley Manson was really going to eat you.

The 4-track bonus CD is a great showcase of Manson's live vocals, but it's only a tease. Surely they could have thrown in a couple more tracks? Let's hope Garbage reunites and tours again...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rarities #18: Garbage - beautifulgarbage (2001)

Since I'm in a Garbage mood at the moment, you'll be getting quite a bit of garbage these days. Coming on the heels of their super successful Version 2.0, beautifulgarbage had a lot to live up to.

First single Androgyny is quite nice, but it didn't make much of an impact. Second single, Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!) fared slightly better. The third and fourth singles were Shut Your Mouth and Breaking Up The Girl.

Overall, it's not as solid as Version 2.0 but it's still quite good. My favourite track here has got to be Drive You Home, an aching ballad that is intimate and heartbreaking. The duds here are 'Til The Day I Die and Untouchable. Otherwise, it's an ok album.

This limited edition version is quite cool. The packaging opens up like the petals of a rose, to make it So Like A Rose. The disc is housed in the centre, together with the booklet.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Collectibles #16: Absolute Garbage (2007)

I've always been a big fan of Garbage, and I was happy to learn that they were going to release a Greatest Hits album with one new song. Man, any new song is good.

The songs are listed in chornological order, and it's not surprising that the bulk of the album is comprised of hits from their first 2 albums. As so often is the case for Greatest Hits albums arranged chronologically, there is the sense that there is an overall dip in quality towards the end.

While this phenomenon presents itself here as well, the amazing thing is that even the "weaker" tracks are above average than most other compilations of the same nature.

The album starts off with Vow, the first single off their debut, self-titled album. This was way back in 1995, when no one had ever heard of Garbage before. The album was released soon after, and a slew of hits followed. And what hits they were.

Queer, Only Happy When It Rains and Stupid Girl remain Garbage's finest moments. Even Milk, a slow and hanuting tune, made it quite big on radio.

A B-side track on the Vow single, or more famously known as the song from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, #1 Crush also gets an airing here. Like Queer, #1 Crush showcases Shirley Manson's sultry vocals and her most seductive side, and it's irresistible.

Enter 1998 and Garbage release their second album, aptly titled Version 2.0 because of the heavy use of computers and electronic devices to craft the album. The singles lifted off this album are also pure gems - Push It, I Think I'm Paranoid, When I Grow Up, Special and You Look So Fine.

Version 2.0 is one of my favourite rock albums of all time, if you can call it a rock album. It's such an all-rounded album and every track is good. In some ways it's better than their debut album because it's uniformly good.

Garbage even got themselves the honour of recording the Bond theme song in 1999, for the 19th Bond flick, The World Is Not Enough. While the film was quite a flop, Garbage did much better, though I personally feel it's not one of the best Bond tunes ever.

beautifulgarbage was released in 2001 and it seen as a less successful record coming on the heels of Version 2.0. That album had earned them 2 Grammy Award nominations, including the biggie Album of the Year, which they lost out to Lauryn Hill's debut solo album.

First single Androgyny didn't generate much waves an dis omitted from this collection as a result. Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go) is a fun, a-go-go tune while Shut Your Mouth is more typical Garbage. Only 2 songs from beautifulgarbage are represented here, but it isn't really fair to say it's not good because overall, it is a good album, just not as good as Version 2.0. There were other songs in there that I really liked as well, like Drive You Home.

Their fourth album was released in 2005 and it marked a return to a more rock and raw sound, closer to the style of their debut album. 3 songs are featured here - Why Do You Love Me, Bleed Like Me and a remix of It's All Over But The Crying. I haven't listened to the 4th album much, but I do like Why Do You Love Me quite a lot.

Then of course there's the new track, Tell Me Where It Hurts, which I like a lot as well. It's among their best works and I wonder: if they can come up with such a good song after they have gone on a hiatus, I'm sure they still have a lot of good songs yet to come out of them. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will reunite and record again.

This limited edition contains a bonus disc of remixes, including songs that never made it to the first disc. But I'm not a big fan of remixes so I don't care much about this CD.

Overall, it's a very good package and it is one of the better Greatest Hits compilations around. It really showcases Garbage's calibre and the uniqueness of their sound. They might have reinvented their sound a few times, but there's always something about them that makes them unique. I think it's Shirley Manson.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Cool video: Travis Selfish Jean

Sorry I haven't been updating this page as regularly as I would like. But I will make an effort to blog at least once a week from now on (if there's even anyone left here haha).

Anyway, one of the benefits of my job is that I get to watch MTV all day long, so once in a while, I'll stumble upon some nice new song, or some cool music video.

The following clip is one of those super low-budget, why-didn't-I-think-of-it? kind of video. Another example would be OK Go's Here It Goes Again.

Well, this video is by Travis, from their latest album called The Boy With No Name, which has already spawned the hit Closer. If you didn't know, the video for Closer featured an appearance by Ben Stiller as a supermarket manager, as he is a good friend of the band.

Think Travis is slowly getting back into form, after being one of the most promising Brit bands in the late 90s (they're from Scotland by the way) and falling into the wayside in the past couple of years. Here's their second single, Selfish Jean, which is an absolute joy to watch. Enjoy...