James Iha – Pumpkinhead

As with any band who have a major songwriter in it, there tends to be another one waiting in the wings for any chance to get a song or two on a release. Some examples of this are The Kinks, The Jam or Creedence Clearwater Revival. Another would be our featured band of this month, Smashing Pumpkins. Look at the discography of the band between 1991 and 2000 and you will find very few credits to second guitarist Iha, especially songs that he wrote on his own. He did have the odd co-credit on the earlier albums but didn’t receive one on either the Adore or Machinea/The Machines of God albums. He did release a solo album in 1998 called Let It Come Down, but what if there was an album made up of songs that he wrote for and performed with the Pumpkins that he could have used for a second solo record. 

Well, the first thing I noticed was how few songs there were to choose from. Most of them were B-sides and so The Aeroplane Flies High collection has more Iha songs on it than any other. To make this album, I decided to work within the constraints of an LP, so it means that each side will need to be about 22 mins long. This did not prove to be much of a problem as Iha has not been the most prolific of writers. It also meant that I needed to include a cover that Iha sings and that is A Night Like This. When listening to majority of this material, I do wonder if Iha was in the wrong band. Main Pumpkin songwriter Billy Corgan didn’t always have the electricity turned up to eleven, but Iha seems to be writing as though he is in an alternative folk group. 

The only song that has not been officially released up to this point is Wave Song, which was included on the unofficial band completion Mashed Potatoes. The Mashed Potatoes set has been described as the Holy Grail of Smashing Pumpkins collectables, because there was only ever about ten of them made. Billy Corgan compiled the five disc set and gave them out to the rest of the band and friends. It contained live tracks, demos and alternative versions of previously released material. Considering how extensive the reissue programme was, not a lot of the Mashed Potatoes material was used. Like the material used on the ‘End’ album, I seem to remember this being on Corgan’s website back in those early days of the internet. I wonder if this compilation will ever see the light of day in an official capacity?  

There were a few of songs left over. Terrapin is another cover sung by Iha, which was written by Syd Barrett. Two are instrumentals that were released on the Deluxe Edition of The Aeroplane Flies High. The other two are from the Earphoria and all of these songs could be B-Sides for single, whichever song that would be.

The front cover of the album is adapted from the single from his first solo LP, Be Strong Now and is not one my strongest efforts. It did remind me of a bootleg cover, which is pretty much what this is.

Side A

  1. The Boy – The Aeroplane Flies High
  2. Summer – Single B-Side (Perfect)
  3. Blew Away – Single B-Side (Disarm)
  4. …Said Sadly – The Aeroplane Flies High
  5. One & Two – Single B-Side (I Am One)
  6. Go – Machina II/The Friends & Enemies Of Modern Music

Side B

  1. Wave Song (Demo) – Mashed Potatoes
  2. A Night Like This (The Cure Cover) – The Aeroplane Flies High
  3. The Bells – The Aeroplane Flies High
  4. Take Me Down – Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
  5. Believe – The Aeroplane Flies High
  6. Farewell & Goodnight – Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness

B-Sides

  • Bugg Superstar – Earphoria
  • Terrapin (Syd Barrett Cover) – Single B-Side (I Am One – UK 10”)
  • Star Song – The Aeroplane Flies High (Deluxe Edition)
  • The Grover – The Aeroplane Flies High (Deluxe Edition)
  • Why Am I So Tired – Earphoria

These discs could not be reproduced because not all of these songs are available on Spotify. 

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