on July 17, 2004
It's hard to believe that a disc made up of B-sides would be this good. Most bands just throw away their B-side material, so unless you picked up the singles, fuhgeddaboudit. Not Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan and crew churned out music on a level not seen since the '70s, when bands built their reputations on tours and constantly playing and recording, not stringing people along with a handful of videos from one album. In fact, they'd later up the ante with the "Aeroplane Flies High" box set.
Anyway, this disc has some classic Pumpkins moments that shouldn't be ignored just because they're not on a "proper" album. "Landslide," the Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac cover, was a moderate hit, being the only song from this disc that made it to radio. But all the songs are good, and follow the traditional Pumpkins formula of quiet, introspective numbers and distortion-laden rock fests. "Pissant," "Plume," "Frail and Bedazzled," and "Soothe" are all great, but "Starla" is probably the centerpiece of this disc. The song plunges through the first couple of minutes as one of their best straight-up rockers before pummeling you with some riff-heavy jamming. This song was also very popular among fans, apparently. I ended up adopting a cat named after this song, and some neighbors of mine also had a cat named Starla, with the same story behind her name. Kind of scary, if you ask me, but if a band can have that much impact on their fans, more power to 'em.
Finally, I have to mention the liner notes on this. The pictures, the haphazard typewriter font on the impossibly thin paper...it all adds up to kind of a slipshod package if you ask me, but it works perfectly on a B-side collection. It makes you feel like you unearthed some real buried treasures, or maybe like Billy Corgan himself put together a mix tape of rarities just for you. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but it's cool nonetheless.
on May 2, 2004
Hello,... This album is gold for all rock loving teens, it does not matter if you are a pumpkinhead or not, this album is a sure thing. Let's kick off with an opener Soothe...soothe, gentle, acoustic and sad, a great start to the album. Then we have frail and Bedazzeled, which get's us rocking, great song. Plume comes in number 3, but I can not realy make up my mind about it, so let's leave it alone (interesting riff).If you like James Iha's Let it come down, you will just adore Whir (Billy sings, but sounds like an Iha song) Blew away features Iha on vocals, it is mostly an acoustic song, accept it gets siamese dream kind of guitar distortion at the end. I can't decide on the next one... Pissant...Hmmm...Lyrics were wriiten in 10 minutes and that shows, nad Pissant was recorded live, all in all a cool punk song (I gues). Hello kity kat folowes Pissant punk orientation, but with great riffs, pasive-agresive lyrics,and a funny title comes close to perfection, but the mix isn't as good, but a great song anyways. Obscured is on number 8, it should be on Lull, but was droped and put here...an old pumpkin song, from there first days...pure gold for pumpkinheds. Obscured is folowed by another acoustic song Landslide...what to say? Simply beautiful song. At door number 10, it is .... Starla!!! By my judgement the best song on the album, one of pumpkins best work. It goes on for 11 minutes and leaves you dazzeled at the end of a 5 min guitar solo. Next one is another old song from Lull, Blue... it has a great bass intro, and i love it, as i love Girl named Sandoz. There is something about this song that remindes me on John Spencers sound, it is diffrent and great. We are closing in on the album, it is not over yet. La dolly vita is another great song, that sounds, like Gish album songs, and Jimmy realy puts a alot of effort on it. After that there is a weird finnish to the album with Spaced, which is to weird to review. Well, friends it seems that this is it, buy the album, rock your house with it.... till next time... rock on
on September 7, 2003
If you're someone like me, who believes the first two albums are the "Pumpkins" best, than you must get this cd. It may not run quite as smooth, but it's every bit as good as my favorite disc "Gish", and "Siamese Dream". Not knowing this album, is like not seeing one movie in a trilogy. Rockers and ballads together in perfect harmony. I wish bands today had A-sides that were this good.
on May 15, 2004
Hello,... This album is gold and it does not matter if you are in pumpkins or not . Let's kick off with Soothe it is gentle, acoustic and a great start to the album. Frail and Bedazzeled, get's a Skunk kind of sound an it is a rocking, great song. Plume comes in number 3 and has an interesting.Whirr is a acousic, gentle song. Blew away is a Iha song, it is mostly a slow song, accept it gets rocking at the end. Pissant shows a punk song orientation. Hello kity kat continues rocking with great riffs and lyrics,and a funny title is perfect,.Obscured is on number 8, it should be on Lull, but it is here. Obscured is folowed by acoustic song Landslide... beautiful song. Number 10, it is Starla, The best song on the album, one of pumpkins best . Next one is another old song from Lull, Blue... it has a bass intro, and i love it, and so i love Girl named Sandoz... La dolly vita is another great song, that sounds, like Gish album. After that there is a weird finish to the album with Spaced, which is to bad to review. Well, that this is it, buy the album ... till next time... rock on
on December 25, 2003
Billy Corgan...was there a more prolific songwriter of the 90's? For a guy that wrote 300+ songs in a decade (yeah, it's true) it's hard to say no. Back early in the game with only two albums to their name the Pumpkins put out this excellent collection of B-sides in 1994 (and it wasn't even close to a complete collection, where's Purr Snickety or Glynis or ....?). And the scary thing? There really isn't much pure filler here. A lot of these could have been A-Sides. Hell, a lot of them SHOULD have been A-Sides. With B-side collections you usually get an album with two or three good songs and then about 10 half-baked ideas. That's not the case here. This album runs the course from moments of beauty (the opener 'Soothe', the cover of 'Landslide') to furious rockers (the excellent one-two punch of 'Pissant' and 'Hello Kitty Kat'). With this release you can tell that the band (young at that point in time) was really having fun in the studio (something they lacked on later releases). Tracks such as 'Frail and Bedazzled' seethe with youthful exhuburance and the attitude is contagious. Sure, there are some tunes that don't altogether work; their take on'Girl Named Sandoz' exchanges manic soloing for an actual tune while 'Whir' floats gently down the stream without ever really catching hold, but contained on the album are many excellent tracks as well as two absolute astonishing numbers. The first of these two is 'Obscured', a dream-like song that hovers around your ears without ever quite falling in. It's one of those wonderful 'shoulda made the album' type of songs that you'll want to put on repeat. The second of the two is 'Starla', an epic 10+ minute song that begins softly before building into a sonic freakout. The band rocks out here like they're fighting for something they believe in. Back in '94 they were a band with something to prove and with this song, they did.
on November 21, 2003
For starters, the opening track "Soothe" always brings tears to my heart and eyes. When a sparse three minute song has the power to take command of your emotions at the beginning of any record, true props are to be given. But that's not all, folks.The Smashing Pumpkins are the most creative and talented artists to rise from the post grunge ashes of the early nineties. Bold opinion, you may say, but truth be told,in hindsight, I should have given "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness", 6 stars instead of 4. You see, even when Billy Corgan and Co. have overwhelmed their musical catelouge, the supposed b-sides are never delegated throw-aways, or second fiddle. They exceed expectations and in many cases, you'll hear fans screaming for "Landslide"(which Billy wryly refuses to play because of the overt and bellowing demand from one show)or "Starla" or "La Dolly Vita"(the album's tightest track). What can I say? I'd eat peaches every day...lol. No, dear reader, even if you arn't an avid S.P. fan, you can still find plenty of ballsy power-rock numbers, whispery ballads, aching acoustic numbers, rip-roaring covers, and spaced out 7 minute mammoth jams! I give you a personalized rating of the top 10 best in this 14 track collection:
1. Starla(this OBVIOUSLY should have been on "Siamese Dream")
2. Pissant(this tight rock no. was, but only in the Japanese import L.P.)
3. La Dolly Vita(sadly, I am not a "Gish" fan, and this inclusion might have made me a little happier with it)
4. Whir(beautiful, beautiful song. Sounds like gentle folk. Catch the ending, as the guitars fade out into minor key showmanship)
5. Blew Away(Jame's Iha's BEST S.P. era song. This was certainly good enough to be put on "Siamese Dream", but no matter, it's here and it elevates the artistry status of the whole album. A beautiful power-rock balld of love. AWESOME!!!)
So my friends, there it is. AND there are 10 more, none of which suck(although "Spaced" is sort of like a hazy acid trip)
My only gripe is that "Slunk", "Pulzcar", "Drown" and "Apathy's last Kiss" were ommitted. These songs are not on any officail L.P.'s, only on a soundtrack, video, and single. Still, buy this record after you have bought their best("Siamese Dream", "Mellon Collie" and "Adore")and then you can get into the truly happening vibe that is their MAMMOTH b-side collection, "The Aeroplane Flies High".(Personally, there's more hard rock numbers and variety that show a marked maturity in style and musical execution since this record). In closing, buy this album and rock out to it, sing to it, share it, cry to it, laugh to it and ...press repeat over and over again. And, Kids: stay off the drugs...music like this will remind you that are beautiful alternatives to dope.
on July 29, 2003
The Smashing Pumpkins have outdone most any band from the 90s that made their mark on the alternative rock scene. Why? If you listen to the fuzzy crunch of siamese dream, and the beautiful mellow rock of Mellon Collie, and of course, this album...an album that would stand the test of time for a B-Sides collection, Pisces Iscariot, you would see why.
This is no ordinary B-Sides compilation that was thrown together from old discarded songs and demos that were plain jane material. All of the Pumpkins' material, and I mean ALL of it...everything from album cuts, to radio hits, to B-Sides, to stuff that never surfaced until the band broke up was worthy of an open ear and a good listen. I'll review each song as I see it.
Soothe - 4/5. A Very mellow, sad acoustic ballad about loneliness and being hungry. One of Billy's old acoustic demos from the siamese era. It was recorded in his apartment bedroom, and you can hear rainy traffic.
Frail and Bedazzled - 4/5. A nice, short, mellow rocker with some real 'tude to it. Corgan's solo is pretty fun to hear in this one.
Plume - 4/5. Taken from the I Am One single, this fuzzed-out Slow Rocker is a nice little song that takes the album into a different side of the pumpkins.
Whir - 4/5. Possibly the mellowest song on the album, this song is respected by many, hated by few. It seems to have a bit of a country twist to it.
Blew Away - 3/5. From the James Iha collection. This song never really struck me, but it seems like a nice little song that your girlfriend would like.
Pissant - 4/5. A nice two minute rocker with some super fast powerchords and some attitude. Got me a raygun, got me an attitude...
Hello Kitty Kat - 4/5. A Slow Rocker that flanges in and out of your speakers on high octane fuzz.
Obscured - 5/5. This song is a very nice song that seems to go nowhere but inspires you and captures you nonetheless. Taken from the Today single.
Landslide - 3/5. Not the best job of singing by Corgan, and it's not the best cover they've ever done. In my opinion, Dancing In The Moonlight would have better fit in Landslide's Place.
Starla - 5/5. Nothing is perfect, but this song gets a five from me, because this is pure Pumpkins. Take it, put it in a jar, add water, shake it up, which ever way you want. This song is raw Pumpkin power. It starts off with a slow rhythm, leaves out with an Asus2 chord...then kick on the dirtbox and VROOM!! This thing takes off. The 6 minute jam session after the actual song is finished is amazing. Don't skip over this one.
Blue - 4/5. A nice little rocker that will make you want to get up and dance. This song takes several twists and turns. As soon as it's done rocking, then it slows to a mellow pace, then starts rocking again. Great song!
Girl Named Sandoz - 3/5. An Animals' Cover, not the best, but it's a good song to get up and dance to.
La Dolly Vita - 5/5. Taken from the Tristessa vinyl. I understand why it was a B-Side. It would have never fit with the distorted fury of Gish. Sort of reminiscent of Crush, this is one of my favorite songs from the Pumpkins. Absolutely beautiful.
Spaced - 3/5. Sounds like something I would do myself. Expiramental sounds and passing voices in and out. Not really a song, but a good closure for this collection.
Smashing Pumpkins were a great band, and this album proves it. This is no ordinary B-Sides album, this is solid material. I don't even understand why some bands release B-Side albums, because most of the B-Sides really really don't go anywhere. The Pumpkins however break through those barriers and provide us with some very listenable stuff.
on May 21, 2003
Pisces Iscariot is a collection of b-sides from the band's first two albums, Gish and Siamese Dream. As such, it doesn't have the same flow from beginning to end that Siamese Dream did, but that's ok, since this album is a classic in its own right. First off, to describe the overall sound of the album, it sounds absolutely nothing like the grandiose Mellon Collie and the Infifte Sadness and is far grungier sounding than Siamese Dream. This album's raw power absolutely blundegons the listener's ears, but at the same time, this music is very rewarding, too. I have always found that stripped down, minimal production allows the music's true soul to shine through, and this is no exception. This album definitely has a raw grunge feel (much more so than Siamese Dream), and it illustrates that the Pumpkins were first and foremost an alternative rock band. The first song on the album, "Soothe," is a hauntingly beautiful acoustic ballad (which was actually a demo recorded in Corgan's bedroom). "Frail and Bedazzled" and "Whir" were both Siamese Dream outtakes, the former showcasing that album's hard rock side, while the later is reminiscent of its slower songs. In fact, on both of these songs, Corgan's lyrics are far more open and confessional than on anything else he had done up to that point. "Pissant" is a fast and furious RAWKer which was also recorded during the Siamese sessions. "Hello Kitty Kat" is driven by LOUD heavily distorted guitars, and demonstrates that the Pumpkins owed musical debts to the groups such as the Stooges and Husker Du. The heavy guitar echo nearly drowns out Corgan's voice most of the time, but it adds texture to this deeply tortured song (check out the lyrics to see what I mean). "Obscured" is an acoustic song with some nice insrumentation in the background; it is very much in the same vein as "Whir." Both "Hello Kitty Kat" and "Obscured" were originally issued on the "Today" single, but I think "Obscured" actually dates back to the Gish era; it defintely reminds me of some of the slower Gish songs. The cover of "Landslide" is nice, but the ten minute epic "Starla" absolutely rocks. I happen to like the second half of this song better, when the guitars really kick in, and the song just goes off on a swirling, distorted guitar jam for the next five minutes or so. It is absolutely intoxicating to listen to. "Blue" is a Gish outtake, and it shows in the sound. The last three songs are just ok, not great, so I won't spend too much time on them (but I just have to say that the instrumentation of "Spaced" is too derivative of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon for comfort). Considering that this a b-side collection, however, Pisces Iscariot contains a lot of very high quality music, and makes a wonderful companion piece to Siamese Dream. Even though none of these songs were hits, it doesn't make a difference because the album is so raw, so vital, and so alive that it can't help but grow on you. If you are a fan of Siamese Dream, or if you just want to know what true alternative rock is, then Pisces Iscariot just may be the album for you.
on May 18, 2003
While Pisces Iscariot doesn't manage to create the same incredible atmosphere of scale and theatre as did Siamese Dream or Mellen Collie and the Infinite Sadness, it is worth owning, if only to only to own two tracks:
1. A cover of Fleetwood Mac's Landslide, which (unlike the recent Dixie Chicks' cover) actually eclipses the original in terms of both emotion and simplicity (Billie Corgan's protean voice is able to assume the role much more effectively than was Stevie Nicks'), and
2. Obscured, a sleeper of a track, but a beautiful one at that, and one of the Pumpkins' most haunting (and most peaceful and zen-like) tracks ever.
Of course, the rest of the disc is good, if not quite as great, and as you might expect, the whole streaks ahead of the current crop of "pop" artists without having to break so much as a tiny sweat.
If you're a Pumpkins fan and don't already own it, shame on you!
If you're not an obsessive Pumpkins fan, buy it anyway, even though you may not have heard much about it. You'll likely be pleasantly surprised!
on January 28, 2003
This is the first pumpkins album that really struck me. THe cross breeding of folk, psychadelica, alt. rock, and metal makes a perfect combination for me. The style is like no other and takes me off into a fantasy. Jimmy Chamberlain becomes more amazing to me the more i listen and discover about him. First off i think it is awesome that he was a Jazz drummer brought into rock and roll (elementary to most jazz musicians). Because by doing that, he showed that you don't have to stay simple to avoid sounding ridiculous playing rock music. He plays rudiments that most rock drummers don't use and makes them essential for the song. The rim shots in the midst of his fills come to mind when i think of Chamberlin. They are almost his signature deal. The songs wouldn't be the same without the rim shots. Every drummer shows off with 32nd notes and they all sound the same. But he makes 32nd note fills sound ten times better by accenting those rimshots in the right places. A lot of the times Chamberlain would get down right funky with rudiments and who would have thought this very stylistic nature of playing would have gone perfectly in sync with the distorted, fantasy like, atmosphere that the rest of the band created?