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Zero / God / Mouth of Babes Import, Maxi
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Smashing Pumpkins ~ Zero
International version of this EP originally released in 1996. Features 6 non-LP tracks, 'God', 'Mouths of Babes, 'Tribute to Johnny', 'Marquis in Spades', 'Pennies', 'Pastichio Medley' & the album version of 'Zero'. Virgin. --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
"Intoxicated with the madness, I'm in love with my sadness!" Corgan wails in the title track. It transitions into the quieter but even more despairing "God," and the more pensive look at superstardom, "Mouths of Babes." Corgan takes a break from misery in "Tribute To Johnny," a twisting rock song that highlights his ability to make the guitar bend to his will.
Bitterness and revenge are at the heart of "Marquis of Spades," another sizzling hard-rocker where Corgan snarls, "And all I see is empty/'Cause now I'm one of them/So adored/The slink of impotence/That money can afford!" With "Pennies," the sound softens down to a solid non-hard rock song; even Corgan's vocals sound more relaxed. And finally it climaxes with a twenty-three minute medly that veers from murky, plodding bass to a blistering riff. Often it changes with no warning, as if Corgan and Co. are just randomly changing their minds.
"Zero" is a pretty unusual EP -- most EPs are just to show a sampling of the band's work, or keep the fans satisfied between full-length albums. But "Zero" is actually more cohesive than many LPs. The underlying themes seems to be devoted to the emptiness, scorn for empty fame, and to lost love (of course!).
The music veers a lot closer to the hard rock side of the Smashing Pumpkins, with only a brief reprieve in "Pennies." And that's not what you'd call dreampop either.Read more ›
Anyway, if you're into the hard rocking side of the Pumpkins (as I'm sure most fans are) then you won't want to be without this. This is just as essential as Mellon Collie.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Like the other B-side-filled EP's deriving from the _Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness_ album, each start off with the track of the single, then are followed by the B-sides. "Zero" is a raging anthem. Likewise, the rest of the EP -- with the exception of the melodic alt-pop of "Pennies" -- shows off the Pumpkins' overdriven, distortion-filled rock. "God" is a perfect example of this; the verses are soft, while the chorus rages with an intense, overdriven madness that was the Pumpkins' niche. "Mouths of Babes" features a tasteful riff on the pentatonic (in descending mode) that opens the track, and eventually closes it off (and is repeated, but the key is changed in the final motif, before the track cuts off.) "Tribute to Johnny" is a fusionesque metal instrumental; a little bit of funk, a little bit of jazz, and loads of distortion. Perfectly shows just how talented and diverse these pumpkins were. It's tasteful and chewy as well, while "Marquis in Spades" is a more plodding, but equally heavy, well-distorted number. "Pennies" gives you a breather from all of the distortion of past, and leads into the very interesting (to say the least) "Pastichio Medley." This is a 23-minute smorgasbord of spliced-together riffs taken from dozens of Pumpkins' songs that were either unfinished, or just plain unreleased. The overdriven extremeties that were so common to The Pumpkins' niche are here, indeed, but there are also moments of quiet to be found, and the occasional vocal.
Case and point: if you are a diehard Pumpkinhead (like myself; The Pumpkins are my top favorite when it comes to the "alternative" bands from the '90s scene), you will *not* want to be without this single, or the others that came from the _Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness_ sessions. If you are lucky enough to own _The Aeroplane Flies High_ boxed set (the complete, _Mellon Collie_-derived singles/EP's in one boxed set, and with a booklet of complete lyrics, photos, etc.) then you will already own this single. Recommended indefinitely.
Do you like your Pumpkins to be of the rocking variety? Then you're in luck here. Like its namesake single, the "Zero" EP is a front to back rocker. You might recall "Marquis in Spades" from the "Judas O" compilation that was included on some copies of the band's 2001 greatest hits set, "Rotten Apples," but the rest of the bunch are pretty much exclusive to this set. "God" and "Mouths of Babes" are Pumpkins at their best, with layers of fuzzy guitar riffs stacked against a relentless rhythm section. Billy Corgan's often poetic lyrics seem irrelevant when pitted against such strong instrumentals, and for the Johnny Winter tribute track, the aptly titled "Tribute to Johnny," truer words were never spoken. One of the few and true collaborations between Corgan and guitarist James Iha, "Tribute to Johnny" lets the group's classic rock flag fly high, showing that the Pumpkins were more than just mid-'90s alt-rockers at heart. While Corgan and Iha playing dueling axes, bassist D'Arcy Wretsky holds it down with a hearty bass-line that serves Jimmy Chamberlin's monster drumming well. This track is the highlight and serves as a perfect example of why Corgan's ex-bandmates were more than just hired help. "Pennies" takes things down a notch, but still retains the vintage sound that can be heard in any of "Mellon Collie"'s finer moments. Capping off the set is the very interesting "Pastichio Medley." Clocking in at well over 20 minutes, this instrumental can be a bit taxing to get through being that is merely clippings of riffs that were left off the album for whatever reason. Although it's not everyday listening, it is historically significant (in regards to the band, anyway) and something any Pumpkins enthusiast should bear witness to.
No matter the price you pay to track it down, "Zero" is perhaps one of the finest Pumpkins singles/EPs in existence and worth seeking out (the used price here is an absolute steal, by the way). Simply put, you won't find any throwaway tracks on the set and you might even wonder why the band didn't decide to make "Mellon Collie" a three-pronged attack. Heck, even if the band's mixed output from the late '90s and onwards bums you out, this little EP serves as a sort of consolation prize. "Zero" is, simply put, anything but a zero.