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To start everything off right, Rotten Apples is simply a compilation of The Smashing Pumpkins' GREATEST HITS, meaning the songs which were the most successful, commercially. This is not a "Best OF" album, by any means. This DOES include SOME of their best songs, but not all of them. Depending on where you buy it, the tracklist differs, but most will have the American one, which includes 'landslide' and 'real love'. The disc spans their career from 'Gish' to 'Machina' and includes the more popular songs. I repeat - don't go out thinking this is their best of album. Some fans will definitely be wondering "where is mayonaise? thirty-three? heavy metal machine? i of the mourning? crestfallen? for martha?" It remeains a mystery to me, as does the track selection towards the end. "real love" was never a hit. it is a god song, but could have easily been replaced by something better. However, the inclusion of "untitled" was a great move. The Pumpkins' farewell song, it fits well as the last track, and is a real treat to the fans. Also, another good move was including 'eye' - that rare gem from the Lost Highway soundtrack. Enough about Rotten Apples. The real treat here is the bonus disc included with MOST pressings of the album. "Judas O: A Collection of B-Sides and Rarities" This is the reason most die-hard fans will even go near this compilation. It features a whopping 11 unreleased tracks, as well as some later b-sides. Blissed and Gone is a favorite of mine, as well as Saturnine and Waiting. Come to think of it, they are all Adore outtakes. Wow. However, most will love the fact that 'The Aeroplane flies high' is included. A close to 8 minute epic of a song, TAFH was only available asa b-side to the rare 33 single. Judas O is an amazing collection of songs, minus maybe Rock On, but hey, it's a cover. Check out Rotten
Apples if you're a casual fan. However, if you're a diehard fan, find a copy that includes Judas O and you'll be in heaven.
The Smashing Pumpkins' career lasted almost exactly 10yrs - and in that perfect decade of 1990-2000, the band delivered 6 albums and went through a multitude of rock 'n' roll traumas until it broke them. Simple to sum up really, just like this greatest hits package which collects all the finest moments of a plagued existence (many of them singles) and throws in 2 unreleased songs, and a bonus disc (titled Judas O) which collects b-sides and rarities; and a number of tracks from their last internet exclusive album. I missed all but one album of theirs while they existed, and now's a prime time for me to catch up. The CD undoubtedly also is a recommended gem to veteran fans with the previously unreleased tracks. I am glad that I got to catch up with a band that I liked (and could've loved more all round maybe), but you know when you're getting old when bands you knew in your teenage existence put greatest hits records out! But then again many recent greatest hits are too premature or just purely unneccessary. This instant year-after package immediately closes the lid on the band. The band from Chicago, though lumped in with the wave of succesful American grunge bands (and, indeed they were too) were more so simply a 'rock band' - which allowed these curiously monikered members to shift between being indie, punkers, grungers, metallers, gothers, arters and electronicas - though continually epic and consistent in their signature, whatever they did; whatever they meant. Unlike legendary contemporaries Nirvana, The Pumpkins relished fame, and have so forged a unique and alternative kind of unconscious anti-legend of their own. The first two tracks of the 18 track collection (excluding the limited edition bonus disc) from their first album (on an indie label) 'Gish', showcases a formative and inward band having basic fun with bluesy indie punk rock that dipped it's toes into a bit of me
tal swagger. This is plainly shown in tracks like the Hells Angel biker friendly lite of 'Siva', and then the pensive wiry elation of 'Rhinocerous'. Third track 'Drown' I assume is a b-side, a chilled out innocent one at that. Moving on to the more exciting stuff from their second and breakthrough major label album 'Siamese Dream' we get introduced to 'Cherub Rock' that enters with a military snare drum tease, and then with the help of some guitar build up it bursts into a catchy slab of instantly recognisable 90's USA rawk. This marks the birth of seeing the band as important popular alternative stadium rockers. Following afterwards is the band's first hit single 'Today' with another catchy nursery rhyme like riff that blows itself into a catchy chordy happy sing-a-long, with a dose of heaviness to cut out any cheesinesses. Ending the '...Dream' period there's the majestic ballad 'Disarm', where over the plain acoustic guitar is swathes of strings and sparse bursts of orchestral hits. It sounds like an ideal soundtrack to a kind of pensive Christmas. The band's 3rd studio album, and their biggest and most well-known one, was a double CD set which made sure that everyone knew who they were with first single 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' - with it's moody drums and bass and nasally vocals, which could serve as an ideal intro to a Tim Burton movie. Then it dirsupts itself into an anthemic teenage riot with the ace line "despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage". Is it punk, is it grunge, goth, metal or indie? No one could really discern, no one cared about their image and packaging, and just relished the instant appeal of this modern classic rock song. The song that follows this is '1979' with it's simple repetitive beat, retro wiry guitars and mild atmospherics. Despite not being able to make out what singer Billy Corgan'
s singing, it's a fine mellow song, and a fine tune to the year I was born! After this is a quick burst of punk metal via 'Zero' ("..God is empty, just like..me!"). 'Tonight, Tonight' recalls orchestral charm again with progressive pop rock, where arpeggiating guitars caress the rolling snare drums as Corgan delivers his handholding vocals against the urgency of all the strings. Epic! After the Pumpkins' 'peak', I guess - Billy Corgan dabbles with house music drum 'n' bass instruments to deliver the very electronic 'Eye' for the soundtrack to the enigmatic movie 'Lost Highway'. The swathes of synthesizers lend a very eery and liquidy gothic feel. This serves as a taster for the next two tracks from the following (great) electronically scaffolded album 'Adore' (which I own) that didn't set as much popular fire as their last LP. Only the mild and majestic perve pop of 'Ava Adore' and the anticipated mild rhythms of the last single 'Perfect' feature here. Before disbanding last year, their last album 'Machina/the machines of God' (apart from 'Machina II...') merged avant garde noise drowning with very clear metal to deliver the almost positive comeback of 'The Everlasting Gaze". The band re-featuring their recently fired drummer re-injected a vital and key ingredient to the Pumpkins, as Jimmy Chamberlian is a brilliant sticksman, and Corgan has done right to secure him in his new band, the oddly named Zwan. 'Stand Inside Your Love' could possibly be the sequel to 'Bullet...' in parts, it's musical entry is quite similar. But then it doesn't erupt into a rock brawl-in but rather a kind of resigned rock out. Last single (ever too, well for now I guess if there's ever a reunition in the future) 'Try, Try, Try' is an eery one which is what '1979' was to them back in '95, but with an
icy gloss to it. The last two tracks were previously unreleased, and the first of them 'Real Love' sounds like a basic rock song being chanelled via a slightly dodgy AM radio signal. It's nothing really great, and doesn't merit it's place with all (atleast most) of the other gems on the disc. Final song 'Untitled' has a nice rhythm, where it just skips before anticipation, and is a nice enough blissful way to end, yet they sound too much like your average folky rockers and this kind of, atleast to me, sounds like an uneasy detachment from their other releases. If they planned to follow this style up fully in the future, maybe it's good they laid SP's ghost to rest. As said before, limited edition copies feature a bonus disc (which novelly looks a bit like a blank CD-R home made CD) of 16 b-sides and rarities, 10 of them being previously unreleased, but I'm sure some of these are available on the net. only album 'Machina II...'. And because I'm lazy, and because it's not neccessary, I'm not going to talk about that optional disc. But I can say if you're looking for last scraps of Pumpkins material then the limited edition copy of the greatest hits will entice you as much as the casual fan. But 'Judas O' in no way supercedes the greatest hits collection of 'Rotten Apples' and you wouldn't expect b-sides and the lark to anyway, that'd just be silly and worrying. But there are some fine gems in there. My op title is also one of the songs (and the last song) from 'Judas O'. ...Highlights though include the dynamic 'Aeroplane Flies High', the James Iha sung 'Believe', the trippy 'Waiting', the industria-lite of 'Saturnine', the Van Halen orientated rock chant of 'Rock On' (with some amazing percussion) and the soothing 'Winterlong'; while all the others are also a rather fine collection of moderately rocky nu
mbers, but mainly quiet slow ones that attach themselves somehow to the 'Adore' period. Accompanying the album is an inlay booklet featuring a multitude of cool photos of them from their career plus a songs and compilation credits page, and a card advertising their other album titles, including 'Pisces Iscariot'. If you enjoyed any amounts of Pumpkins songs and don't own atleast one single or album of theirs, then you'd be doing a great disservice to yourself by not buying this album, and if you own everything else of theirs, the limited edition version is the ideal way to cap it all off. The Smashing Pumpkins came, they rocked and they went - and if you weren't there in the first place, you should be now!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
4 Cherub Rock
7 Bullet With Butterfly Wings
10 Tonight, Tonight
12 Ava Adore
14 The Everlasting Gaze
15 Stand Inside Your Love
16 Try, Try, Try (Album Version)
17 Real Love