Smashing Pumpkins have shared details on the latest edition to their archive series, a vinyl release of a Billy Corgan acoustic set at Los Angeles’ infamous Viper Room in 1998.
“The thing you hear in the Viper Room show is you’re really sort of being allowed into the studio where the songs don’t have the accoutrement of all the bells and whistles,” Corgan says on Instagram announcing the record’s release. “There’s a certain innocence before songs are released to the world,” he adds.
The performance at The Viper Room included a number of then-unreleased tracks that would later be featured on the band’s fourth album Adore, which came out roughly five months after the acoustic performance.
The most interesting aspect of the release is getting to hear the Adore songs in a more stripped back format. Adore was famously a turning point for the Smashing Pumpkins, where the band embraced electronica and goth rock in a more explicit fashion than on the bombastic and world-conquering alternative rock of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
It also came at a time when band relations were at their lowest: drummer Jimmy Chamberlin had been fired the year before, and communication between the remaining Pumpkins, James Iha, D’arcy Wretzky, and Corgan, was increasingly strained. Corgan performing a solo show was perhaps the greatest metaphor for Adore: solitary, removed, and almost entirely a Corgan-exclusive project.
Time would be kinder to Adore. It definitely sounds way better compared to all of the dispensable Pumpkins records that followed it, and it reads more as a noble misstep or well-intentioned hiccup rather than the abject failure it has been tagged as in the past. If the drum machines and synths were what made you back away from it in the first place, maybe Corgan’s solo set at The Viper Room can reintroduce you to some of the Pumpkins’ most underrated songs.
Check out the Instagram announcement video down below. Live at The Viper Room, 1998 will be released on July 31 exclusively through Corgan’s Madame ZuZu site.