(Rotten Apples): The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits (2001)

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Music

Billy Corgan has always gotten a lot of grief from critics. He’s a control freak, he has a whiny voice, he’s talented but self indulgent and talks about his ‘vision’ too much during interviews. His level of humility is somewhere around that of Marlon Brando’s knowledge of green vegetables. This is the buzz from critics for the past five or six years. I’ve never met Billy Corgan. Maybe he is an asshole. But, uh… who cares? Have you listened to the albums he’s created? This ain’t politics, it’s rock and roll. You listen to the music, not what the artists say during interviews. Random but slightly related note: Oasis was a damn fine rock band – and also assholes. The Smashing Pumpkins were the most original, ambitious and impressive band of the nineties. A greatest hits package couldn’t do their accomplishments justice. But (Rotten Apples): The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits is a wonderful depiction of what it so regrettably seems many people missed.

This release contains a collection from their five studio albums released in the 1990s, with a few soundtrack songs (“Drown,” from Singles, “Eye” from Lost Highway), and a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” from their first compilation of b-sides, 1994’s Pisces Iscariot. The disc also features “Untitled,” the band’s last single. And what a surprise… like almost every other Pumpkins song, it’s superb, with monstrous drumming by Jimmy Chamberlin and a spectacular guitar solo to end. Disc one takes us from 1991 release Gish right up to the unduly overlooked Machina/ The Machines of God (2000). The essence of the first disc is simple. It contains the bands hits (generally, their singles). You know the songs already.

The Smashing Pumpkins were the most consistently extraordinary band of the nineties. You won’t hear better modern music than when listening to the whole of each of their albums. Name a more versatile, eclectic and creative group. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Billy and the Pumpkins are simply on a level of their own. The band steered the reins of Corgan’s massive ambition machine to become a premium difference maker in music. And this collection reflects the Pumpkins often abrasive ride.

The listener can hear the development that took place inside the band, which made them evolve from a promising rock band with loud, distorted guitars, to a group that was ultimately much more. From the wailing, screaming guitars of “Cherub Rock” and “Zero,” to the brilliant majesty of “Tonight, Tonight.” From the trademark complexity (fitting into the hard/soft/hard/soft arrangement that is vintage Pumpkins) of “Rhinoceros” to the shiver-inspiring acoustic “Disarm,” this collection doesn’t have even a mediocre song. This, quite simply, is songwriting at its best, a musical reminder of the most unjustly disregarded band of our generation. It can inspire any true music fan to do what they should have done already- buy the albums.

The arrangement of the songs on Rotten Apples is superb. The songs make us realize that this was not just another ordinary alternative band. The Smashing Pumpkins performed the most captivating songs of the nineties. Maybe he’s an egotistical rock star. Find me someone that can even come close to creating an album like Corgan these days and maybe I’ll give a damn. The singles are great, and quite often the surrounding songs are even better after multiple listens. If you want the best of The Smashing Pumpkins… buy all of their albums. Buy every single one. If you want to make a wise purchase, buy (Rotten Apples): The Best of The Smashing Pumpkins.

Corgan has recently reformed the band, with a few new players along the way. But the new version of the band has lacked the success and critical acclaim the band saw in the 90s. From this author’s standpoint, the band died here – and that’s just fine with me…

1. Siva
2. Rhinoceros
3. Drown
4. Cherub Rock
5. Today
6. Disarm
7. Landslide
8. Bullet with Butterfly Wings
9. 1979
10. Zero
11. Tonight, Tonight
12. Eye
13. Ava Adore
14. Perfect
15. The Everlasting Gaze
16. Stand Inside Your Love
17. Real Love
18. Untitled


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