Smashing Pumpkins have released a new album recently – Monuments to an Elegy – and a good one too by the sounds of it too, however, this does mean that Billy Corgan has been talking to the press again.
The Guardian interview threw up the usual combination of ego and weaknesses with its “Nobody believes I made a three star record. Nobody!” headline giving you the idea. Billy the genius slighted again, right? Well, it does seem weird that a man that has made albums as memorable and ambitious as Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie… split his band while still popular and then come back with the goods many, many years later is not more widely praised. Especially when you consider the number of acts that have reformed without new music or other marquee acts that have permanently sidelined the act of making new music to keep offering up the hits.Not that the Guardian article disagrees with that but Corgan clearly feels differently.
The obvious counterpoint to this (to me anyway) is the reception Prince has received with his two new projects last year. The praise was unanimous for someone who has, frankly, been doing things like Billy has: a clearly defined artistic vision where he is the King of the Castle no matter what, a consistent aesthetic (funk, feather, females…) and a pretty big gap between those ‘classic’ releases and his modern output which, on the whole, conjures up memories of his best work if not reaching those enviable past heights.
Shouldn’t Billy Corgan get the same rub of the green for his longevity, quality of output and individuality? Well, yes and he does but not to the same extent. The reason could be very simple. Prince doesn’t give interviews and if does rarely does he engage as directly and irritably as Pumpkin #1.