Earphoria

Although it's punctuated with some really memorable moments from the band's best era—the period predating 1995's Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness—the release of Earphoria really

Although it's punctuated with some really memorable moments from the band's best era—the period predating 1995's Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness—the release of Earphoria really makes one wonder about how much thought is being put into the Pumpkins legacy these days. Earphoria isn't really a true live album, but rather the soundtrack to the band's 1994 video, Vieuphoria, which is being rereleased this month on DVD. And as such, it comes off as a rather nonessential, hodge-podge collection appealing to only the most hardcore of fans. What we really should be getting in advance of an inevitable Pumpkins boxed set is a strong, career-spanning double live disc. Instead, what we often get here is mediocrity or just downright poor decision-making; for example, why in the world would we want to hear "Cherub Rock," one of the Pumpkins' most exciting songs, done acoustically? That said, the unplugged take on "Mayonaise" is absolutely beautiful (even if frontman Billy Corgan and company crack up midway through the song over traffic lumbering by). The arrival of a wonderfully ragged, very J. Mascis solo more than two minutes into "Disarm" makes up for the band completely destroying and turning the tune into some sort of Black Sabbath-like disasterpiece up until then. "Quiet" and "Soma" are beautifully executed. And for anyone who treasures this period of the Pumpkins' career and remembers how big they and the Siamese Dream record were, Earphoria is sincerely worth picking up merely for its version of "Today," on which thousands of Chicago fans can be heard singing each word of the first verse with Corgan. A great, great snapshot of both an exciting period for rock music and of a band scaling the peaks of fame.—WO