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awkward aural adventures

Smashing Pumpkins – If All Goes Wrong DVD

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Billy Corgan, front man of Chicago behemoth Smashing Pumpkins, is one of the most consistently frustrating musicians of the last thirty years. He is at once the most grandiose and pompous example of stadium orientated rock that Generation X ever produced, counter to every sanctified decree from the house of Cobain, and yet he is the champion of fan taping, he has distributed demos, exclusive recordings and entire concerts through a carefully selected network of fans and friends, distributing for free music that some of his more ‘noble’ peers have charged hundreds and hundreds of dollars for. This is the man who issued the ultimate punk rock ‘fuck you’ to Virgin records self releasing his final double album as fan distributed free releases long before NIN and Radiohead jumped on the headlines.


From the outside he seems to be two raging spirits trapped within his awkward, ghost pallor frame, the multi-million selling, private jet owning rockstar and the geeky music scholar for whom it really is all about the music. If All Goes Wrong is the latest in a line of Smashing Pumpkin DVDs, though the first since the band reformed after their 7 year hiatus, combing a full concert and a behind the scenes documentary. It all arrives as the Pumpkins celebrate their 20th anniversary with raft of special concerts and the release of their early demo tapes.

‘If All Goes Wrong’ has received limited cinematic release including one London screening. The live footage comes from the bands residency at the San Francisco Fillmore and Ashville Orange Peel in the summer of 2007 just after the bands reformation. As you would expect the footage is exquisitely shot and captures as fully as possible the live experience, including a five song bonus shot from the floor of the venue for that real iwasthereman vibe. The crux of this release though is the documentary, fly on the wall look into the agony and ecstasy that Corgan goes through trying to relaunch his band, his one true love, as something relevant and vital. Love or loathe him Corgan is an eminent rock historian and well aware of the trappings of reunions and the Pumpkins original place in the pantheon of giant bands. His desire to hear new music and his fans desire to hear ‘Siamese Dream’ on loop forever are always at war within his head. Its car crash viewing, with Corgan trying to justify to himself as much as anyone the reformation of the band and the line up changes. You get the strange sense that although he is often seen as the lone dictator he wears the line up changes within the Pumpkins as scar tissue. Ultimately ‘If All Goes Wrong’ is one of the most lucid and fascinating glimpses inside a band since Metallica’s seminal therapy trips. Like Courtney Love or Marylin Manson Corgan is one of those figures whom you cannot help but watch, but whereas the bands earlier home video collection Vieuphoria was a quirky sepia insight into a band on the rise ‘If All Goes Wrong’ takes a scalpel to the heart of the bands psyche and lets the results spill across the screen with mesmeric effect. If you love the Pumpkins this is essential viewing, if you are interested in bands or the music world in general you need to see the documentary.

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