At least one of Corgan's reactions to the 1999/2000 angst and argument regarding mp3s and the way they might shake up music was perhaps typically contrary and indirect. In April 2000, he entrusted this cassette of outtakes and alternate versions to a fan with the goal of putting its contents online. Said fan did, resulting in an interesting, often excellent adjunct to the Adore and Machina albums, which benefits from good sound throughout (though many tracks intentionally or due to recording conditions have a fairly murky mix). Starting with the quick riffing "Glass' Theme," a punk-speed bash and crash with a solid vocal and a blasting performance from Chamberlin, Friends follows no particular conceptual path as so many of the Pumpkins' albums do. A number of the demo tracks are listed as such, including a drum machine-driven howl through "Heavy Metal Machine" and a beautiful version of "Once Upon a Time" with just Corgan, his guitar, and a light rhythm pulse. Elsewhere, cuts surface in an initial guise that would be changed, as with "Blue Skies Bring Tears," here with a gentler, slightly quicker recording and different lyrics used on the band's 1999 Arising! tour. The lead riff and general structure from Machina's "The Everlasting Gaze" appears in "Disco King," which has both very rough production and, on the chorus, a weirdly dreamy feeling thanks to the echo on Corgan's singing. "If There Is a God" achieved legendary status due to its many live performances while never formally appearing on a release. The lovely, full-band rendition here of the short track ranks it as one of the band's best, especially due to Corgan's aching vocal. Another out-and-out rarity, "Dross," is another monster Pumpkins stomp rocker, with some fierce guitar from both Corgan and Iha to recommend it. Two live cuts from the band's Halloween 1998 show opening for Kiss surface, including an amusing surprise -- a rip through the old Motown classic "Money" (aka "That's What I Want") -- while regular Pumpkins collaborator pianist Mike Garson gets a moment for himself on his "Le Deux Machina" improvisation.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett