In the ’90s, few rock bands were as great as The Smashing Pumpkins. But then, few bands were as bloated and inconsistent as The Smashing Pumpkins as well. Which becomes readily apparently when you listen to The Aeroplane Flies High: Deluxe Edition, a new six-CD/1-DVD boxed set version of their 1996 singles collection.
Released in 1996, the original version of Aeroplane presented the five singles from the Pumpkins’ 1995 album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, as well as their respective b-sides, for a grand total of thirty-three tracks. But this new edition has been expanded to a whopping ninety tracks with the addition of demos and live recordings.
How valuable this box may be, however, really depends on whether you have the original Aeroplane. Because if you do, this new edition is, sadly, completely pointless.
Part of the problem is that since Aeroplane was a companion to Mellon Collie, and since there’s already been an expanded edition of that album, all of the good Mellon Collie outtakes have been released. In fact, the best track exclusive to Aeroplane, the title track, already appeared on the deluxe version of Mellon Collie.
What’s left are a bunch of somewhat interesting demos that, because they don’t have any vocals, aren’t anything you’ll want to listen to more than once or twice; and a ton of live recordings from a band who weren’t very good live (though, oddly, that didn’t stop me from seeing them on every tour they ever did). Because of this, people who bought the original Aeroplane will quickly realize that there’s really nothing new here worth keeping.
If you weren’t lucky enough to grab a copy of this boxed set back in the day, however, this new Aeroplane has a clutch of essential tunes; ones that, if combined with the best extras from the Mellon Collie collection, can make for a ripping album of outtakes. While the best Aeroplane tune, the sprawling epic “The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right),” was, as I said, on the deluxe edition of Mellon Collie, this has a handful of gems in its own right: “Ugly,” “Cherry,” “Set The Ray To Jerry,” Mouths Of Babes,” “God,” “Marquis In Spades,” and “Transformer.” Though whether spending $85.00 for half-a-dozen tracks, no matter how good they may be, may not be the best use of your money. Especially since there’s really no excuse why they, and the other tunes from the original Aeroplane, weren’t already included on the deluxe edition of Mellon Collie.
In the end, Aeroplane just reinforces the idea that when The Smashing Pumpkins were good, they were very good, and when they were bad, they weren’t worth bothering with. It’s just too bad it also seems to apply to how they assemble a boxed set.
If You Own Aeroplane Already: 0.0/10
If You Don’t Own Aeroplane Already: 7.5/10
What do you think of this album (or my review of it)? Please let me know in the comments below.