The Aeroplane Flies High – 2013 Reissue (CD Review)

Aeroplane-Flies-HighBack in 1996, The Smashing Pumpkins were the kings of the alternative music scene.  Their singles were on every station, their double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was setting chart records and they just couldn’t be stopped.  To cash in on this success, they released The Aeroplane Flies High, a collection of expanded versions of their singles from the current album.  The release included B-sides and a detailed booklet from Billy Corgan.  As a part of their reissuing program, the wheel has landed on The Aeroplane Flies High to be remastered and re-released.  This will also mark its first appearance on vinyl.  To celebrate the reissue, they dug into the vaults and found even more demos, rarities and some live tunes to accompany each disc.  In addition a whole new sixth disc has been added featuring highlights from their massively successful 1996 world tour.  And for those who buy the CD version, a full live show from France will come as a bonus DVD.  The Smashing Pumpkins were my favorite band in my middle/high school days and it was a nice trip down memory lane to revisit this release.

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Disc 1: “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”

The fist disc in this set is the single that launched the massively successful Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  The original release featured a somber James Iha led song “…Said Sadly” and five covers.  The highlight of those being The Cars’ “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”.  For this reissue, 14 tracks have been added.  All of them are demos, featuring riffs, jams and a few songs that never were fully realized or just didn’t fit with the final product.  Some of them feel very off theme from Mellon Collie and it’s easy to see why they were cut.  Most of them are heavier tunes keeping in touch with the tone of the lead track of the disc.  There’s some interesting stuff but some end too quick and other meander too long.  Its hit and miss and is a lot of tracks to deal with.  One might find themselves losing their attention during a listen.  This is definitely a disc for the hardest of the hardcore Smashing Pumpkins fan.

1. Bullet with Butterfly Wings
2. …Said Sadly
3. You’re All I’ve Got Tonight
4. Clones (We’re All)
5. A Night Like This
6. Destination Unknown
7. Dreaming 
8. Movers and Shakirs
9. Germans in Leather Pants
10. Millieu
11. Jackboot
12. A/Ab/E/B/F#
13. Rings
14. Ugly
15. Blaster Caster
16. Little Ditty
17. Verily I Say
18. New Waver
19. The Groover
20. Ravi Revi Roo
21. On The Loose
22. Slurry

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Disc 2: “1979”

“1979” was the highlight disc of the set for me.  Like the disc before it, the tone of the supporting songs stay with the single’s sound.  Five B-sides accompany the original version of this single, including 2 James Iha songs.  Enhancing “1979” in the reissue, nine 8-track demos have been provided.  Most are lighter acoustic renditions of songs.  A few are just instrumental.  Its great to hear these songs minus the overproduction and many layers the Pumpkins would add when finalizing the album.  Another bonus is the song “Infinite Sadness”, an outtake from Mellon Collie’s predecessor Siamese Dream.  This is a chilled out, laid back disc that’s easy to just sit down and enjoy.  The songs on here are fully realized and its really cool to hear them stripped down.

1. 1979
2. Ugly
3. Believe
4. Cherry
5. The Boy
6. Set the Ray to Jerry
7. Tonight, Tonight (Acoustic version/instrumental rough)
8. Jupiter’s Lament (Billy Corgan solo)
9. Zero (8trk demo)
10. Marquis in Spades (8trk demo)
11. Have Love Will Travel (8trk demo)
12. Infinite Sadness (Siamese Dream outtake)
13. 1979 (Acoustic)
14. Aeroplane Flies High (Acoustic snippet)
15. Take me Down (Instrumental)
16. Star Song (DAT mix/vocal rough)

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Disc 3: “Zero”

The song bearing the word on the shirt Billy Corgan made famous leads the third disc.  The original featured 6 B-sides.  The highlight of the original disc in the release was the “Pastichio Medley”.  The 23 minute track consists of riffs and ideas from an onslaught of songs chopped up and pieced together from a time between Siamese Dream and going into record Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  8 live songs from a 1995 show in Chicago round out the extra tracks for the reissue.  The recording of these almost feels like a sound check at a bar as the crowd is either not into it at all or is mixed way down.  These shows take place prior to the release of Mellon Collie and predate the band becoming the biggest band in the world.

1. Zero
2. God
3. Mouths of Babes
4. Tribute to Johnny
5. Marquis in Spades
6. Pennies
7. Pastichio Medley
8. By Starlight
9. Set The Ray to Jerry
10. Mouths of Babes
11. Cupid de Locke
12. Galapagos
13. To Forgive
14. Lily (My One and Only)
15. Here is no Why

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Disc 4: “Tonight, Tonight”

“Tonight, Tonight” was the biggest success the band ever had.  The song and its award-winning music video were unavoidable back in 1996.  It’s a shame this song got beaten to death by radio and TV because its actually really good.  This one has more B-sides including “Rotten Apples” and “Jupiter’s Lament”.  The biggest get on this one is “Tonight Reprise” featuring a solo rendition of “Tonight, Tonight” with some alternate lyrics thrown in.  It’s a really chilling great piece of music that should have ended the first disc of the double album.  Luckily the band didn’t forget about it and did play it live (as an intro to “Tonight, Tonight”).  Like “Zero”, this disc is also accompanied by some 1995 Chicago performances.  The live selection includes one called “Special Winner’s Song”, an improv that has the band showing the lighter side of themselves.

1. Tonight, Tonight
2. Meladori Magpie
3. Rotten Apples
4. Medellia of the Gray Skies
5. Jupiter’s Lament
6. Blank
7. Tonite Reprise
8. Stumbleine
9. Ugly
10. Meladori Magpie
11. God
12. Love
13. Pissant
14. Hello Kitty Kat
15. Special Winner’s Song
16. I Just Wanna Make Love To You

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Disc 5: “Thirty-Three”

“Thirty-Three is my personal favorite song from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  Sadly this disc is lacking in comparison to the others.  It has the title track for the box set as a B-side as well as another Iha song and cover (“My Blue Heaven”).  The reissue only supplies one track.  “Silverfuck” is taken from a 1996 summer show in New York.  It’s a jammed and drawn out performance totaling at over a half and hour.  The track has moments where it drags, but ultimately it never truly loses your attention.  Performances like these can be a rare breed for a band of the Pumpkins’ stature, so putting this on here for your die hards is a nice gesture.

1. Thirty-Three
2. The Last Song
3. The Aeroplane Flies High
4. Transformer
5. The Bells
6. My Blue Heaven
7. Silverfuck (7/10/96)

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Disc 6:  Live Inside The Dark Globe

The final disc in the set is a brand new one for this release.  It features 14 live selections from the Smashing Pumpkin’s 1996 world tour.  It’s a great disc showcasing their live renditions of their songs.  Some are played at a different pace.  Some are jammed out.  A few seem to have a slightly different arrangement.  A few songs don’t sound very pretty live.  It really gives you a feel for them taking their known overproduction and taking it to a live setting.  Seeing as the Pumpkins don’t have much in their catalog regarding live releases, this is an absolute dynamite part of the set (as well as the other discs containing live songs).

1. Where Boys Fear To Tread (Cleveland, Ohio, 7/3/96)
2. Zero (San Francisco, California, 2/7/96)
3. Fuck You (An Ode To No One) (Stockholm, Sweden, 4/10/96)
4. X.Y.U. (Los Angeles, California, 2/3/96)
5. To Forgive (Washington, D.C., 1/6/96)
6. Thirty-Three (New York City, New York, 1/11/96)
7. Tonight, Tonight (New York City, New York, 1/11/96)
8. Lily (My One And Only) (Washington, D.C., 1/5/96)
9. Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans (Cleveland, Ohio, 7/3/96)
10. Jellybelly (Gent, Belgium, 4/6/96)
11. Bullet With Butterfly Wings (Los Angeles, California, 2/3/96)
12. By Starlight (Buffalo, New York, 7/2/96)
13. Bodies (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 7/5/96)
14. Silverfuck (Copenhagen, Denmark, 4/9/96)

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The deluxe edition of The Aeroplane Flies High reissue also comes with a 46 page booklet with commentary on the tracks from Billy Corgan himself and a full concert DVD of a 1997 show in France.  I cannot comment on either as I was only provided with digital tracks for this review.  I imagine this enhances the experience and a full concert DVD is always a cool thing to have.

The Aeroplane Flies High will be available in a deluxe 6CD/1DVD edition, a standard 5-LP edition and a digital deluxe edition.  It’s loaded with new material and should make fans extremely happy.  It’s a giant improvement on the already solid original release.  This is definitely recommended for hardcore Smashing Pumpkins fans and collectors.  The first disc may be a little much for a novice, but the remaining discs offer better goods.  The Smashing Pumpkins definitely know how to please with this release.



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