Watch Restored Video of the Smashing Pumpkins’ First Televised Performance (1988)

For Gen X’ers who spent their twen­ties scout­ing the cities young peo­ple go to retire, and Mil­len­ni­als who spent their youth danc­ing to N’Sync, TLC, and the Spice Girls, nos­tal­gia for sim­pler times just makes psy­cho­log­i­cal sense. The 1990s was the last decade in which we had a shared set of ref­er­ences, “before the inter­net splin­tered mass cul­ture,” Sadie Dingfelder writes at The Wash­ing­ton Post. “In the 90s, every­one lis­tened to the same one or two radio sta­tions in their city that played all the Top 40 hits, span­ning all kinds of gen­res,” says DJ Matt Bail­er.

This means that every­one who heard “No Scrubs” enough times to sing each note also heard the Smash­ing Pump­kins’ biggest hits, and learned to love them equal­ly. It means that we could love the music of Bil­ly Cor­gan with­out being sub­ject­ed to the ter­ri­ble opin­ions of Bil­ly Cor­gan. As the baby-faced singer/songwriter aged, he has become, in his own words, a “bit­ter con­trar­i­an,” “car­ni­val bark­er,” and “class‑A heel,” he says, ref­er­enc­ing his lat­er career in pro­fes­sion­al wrestling.

The assess­ment may seem mild con­sid­er­ing Cor­gan’s appear­ances on Alex Jones’ Infowars and his embrace of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Behav­ior he calls schtick has actu­al con­se­quences in the world. Has it hurt his career? “If I kept my mouth shut,” he admits in dis­cussing the band’s 2018 reunion, “we’d be play­ing a lot big­ger venues and we would be a lot more suc­cess­ful, and we’d be in some­body’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” Love or hate Cor­gan, Smash­ing Pump­kins as a unit earned their place in rock and roll his­to­ry.

The Pump­kins exud­ed mys­tery from the start, with their sub­lime, fuzzed-out psy­che­del­ic melodies and huge, dis­tort­ed cho­rus­es. Lat­er came the dream­like videos and opaque, impas­sive rock star egos. They did­n’t just make it big in the 90s, they were essen­tial to its sound, one they invent­ed even before the decade dawned. See a young, cheru­bic Cor­gan and band debut above on The Pulse, a Chica­go pub­lic access music show, in 1988, in a video and audio upscal­ing and remas­ter.

It was their first tele­vised appear­ance, drum­mer Jim­my Cham­ber­lain had just joined, and they were booked for a seg­ment for local bands called “The Base­ment Jam” after send­ing in their demo tape. The show’s pro­duc­er Lou Hinkhouse intro­duces the TV gig, sum­ming up his feel­ings at that time: “None of us that day real­ly knew for sure, but we knew they were on to some­thing.… they’re about to define a new sound for a new gen­er­a­tion.” How right he was. See the track­list for the most­ly-unfa­mil­iar songs in the set just below.

1. There lt Goes 1:54 2. She-7:37 3. Under Your Spell -11:47 4. My Eter­ni­ty -17:06 5. Bleed 26:44 6. Noth­ing And Every­thing — 32:10 7. Jen­nifer Ever 42:14 8. Death Of A Mind (Sun) — 49:03 9. Spite­face — 55:44

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch Nir­vana Per­form as an Open­ing Band, Two Years Before Their Break­out Album Nev­er­mind (1989)

Bil­ly Cor­gan Per­forms an 8+ Hour Ambi­ent Inter­pre­ta­tion of Her­man Hesse’s Sid­dhartha

The 120 Min­utes Archive Com­piles Clips & Playlists from 956 Episodes of MTV’s Alter­na­tive Music Show (1986–2013)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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