Known Johnson

July 11, 2007

Overlooked Alternatives: Crowded House, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins

Filed under: Music,News,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 9:56 pm

Two bands reunite for new releases this week while another throws a handful of bonus tracks onto a now-classic album that is mercifully old enough that we might not feel so fleeced when buying this “deluxe edition.”

Crowded House – Time On Earth: Neil Finn originally set out to create another solo album, but with Crowded House drummer Paul Hester’s unfortunate suicide, he wound up getting back together with fellow Crowdies Mark Hart and Nick Seymour and the material steered back towards the band rather than his own project. That’s fine, since Neil Finn’s solo works aren’t drastically different than Crowded House anyway. And from the sounds of things, Time On Earth straddles the very fuzzy line between the two – being slightly darker in tone than Crowded House, but a little less serious than Finn solo. This is okay – we’re all 10 years older and it would be kind of unfortunate for the band to not display some signs of maturing in that time. Not that Crowded House was ever “immature,” but I’m all for the band presenting listeners something that doesn’t cater to their every expectation, and from all reviews I have seen, that’s what they’ve given us. An album from Crowded House that takes a little time to develop a relationship with the listener is a good thing. Let’s hope we don’t have to “dream it’s over” after this album and tour.

Foo Fighters – The Colour And The Shape Deluxe Edition: Cool – one of the few times when a “deluxe” edition has come out sufficiently far enough in time from the original that I don’t feel like I’m being gouged buying it again. In addition to being remastered and new liner notes, this edition adds 6 non-album tracks:

“Requiem” (Killing Joke cover)
“Drive Me” Wild (single b-side)
“Down In The Street” (Gary Numan cover)
“Baker Street” (Gerry Rafferty cover)
“Dear Lover” (single b-side)
“The Colour And The Shape” (single b-side)

Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist: “Smashing Pumpkins,” “Zwan,” “Billy Corgan,” whatever you want to call it – it’s all just him and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and a couple of stand-ins for when they play live. I’m feeling mixed about this one after seeing their very lackluster performance at Live Earth this past weekend (not to mention Corgan’s very distasteful plug for the new album,) but not many of the performances there were particularly good, so I don’t want to allow that to color my perception of the new album. But it’s hard not to be a little jaded about this one when we’re being asked to swallow a ridiculous bonus track situation after the whole Machina II fiasco years ago, where Corgan gave the album out to fans, for free, to spread among everyone far and wide after the label gave him a hard time. It’s just harder to believe that he’d stand by this kind of stupidity after doing that. Regardless, here we are on release day and there are multiple versions of the album. In addition to a “deluxe” edition that consists of a 70-some-odd page book with the CD (but no additional music or video content? Strange . . .) there are multiple versions of the album:

Best Buy:
Adds “Death From Above” smack in the middle of the track listing, at #9.

Adds title-track “Zeitgeist” at the end of the album.

Adds “Stellar” at the end of the album.

There’s also a Ticketmaster tie-in where you get the album via Itunes plus 5 bonus tracks of other bands covering the Pumpkins.

Sigh. I’ll say it again, in case some industry big-wig checks in: we buyers HATE this. By doing things like this, you just encourage the piracy-by-download that you claim to be against.

I’ll buy it anyway – I have all the other Corgan-related albums, why not one more? Judging by the overwhelming negativity of people so far, just hours after it was available for sale, and probably before most of them have actually heard it, I’ll probably wind up liking it way more than anyone else. It worked that way with Zwan – I listen to Mary Star Of The Sea a lot more often than most Pumpkins albums, actually. I rarely fall for the hype – positive or negative.


1 Comment »

  1. I love Crowded House to pieces, and I enjoy Neil and Tim Finn’s solo albums, but the Finn Brothers album from a few years ago was very disappointing to me. I may have to check out the new one…

    Foo Fighters: The Colour and the Shape is the only FF album I own. I bought it in 1997 when I was living in Italy and listened to it constantly. It always reminds me of driving on crazy Neapolitan highways. I’d LOVE to hear bonus tracks of this album.

    I remember hearing the Zwan album a few times at my Borders when it first came out. It’s a shame about all the bad reviews and negative comments – I enjoyed that album a lot.

    Comment by Chris — July 13, 2007 @ 8:32 am | Reply

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