The Smashing Pumpkins

Machina II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music

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Having decided that the earlier Friends and Enemies effort at getting rare songs out to the Pumpkins' fan base surreptitiously was successful, Billy Corgan organized a more formal effort with Machina II, borrowing the original tape title while revamping the contents. Twenty-five copies were made on three 10" and two 12" vinyl discs. Instructions were given to distribute the material on the Web; artwork was also made available online, making this possibly the first full release of an album strictly as a free Web effort. The first 10" disc includes the heavy-yet-dreamy "Slow Down" and a "spacy" version of "Glass' Theme"; the second features one of the Pumpkins' most surprising covers, James Brown's "Soul Power," which turns out to be a great Pumpkins bash-and-thrash fest. It also includes the Adore outtake "Cash Car Star," a fantastic hyper-thrash assault with some insane guitar work, and a fantastic version of the "Stand Inside Your Love" B-side "Speed Kills." The final 10" contains a piano/vocals version of "If There Is a God," and a lighter take on "Try, Try, Try." The two 12" disc releases -- the "official" Friends and Enemies release -- features alternate takes of the original cassette's tracks, including "Dross," and a heavy rip through "Blue Skies Bring Tears," while "Le Deux Machina" and the loud, sparkling soar of "Real Love" remain unchanged. New songs include a fine James Iha number, "Go," the haunting "Innosense," and the official release of "Let Me Give the World to You," here given a triumphant total-band take. As a high-class artifact and a gift to a loyal fan base, Machina II is a winner.

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