Just a little note before I start this.
The last singles collection/best of I reviewed was international superhits, this time Iím not going to be as critical as this is meant as an album to get you into the pumpkins.
Letís see, the early 90ís, an eventful time in music we had one of musicís most influential bands since Pink Floyd and The Who, torn apart by Kurt Cobainís suicide. However, if you rewind to 1991 you get the formation of the Smashing Pumpkins success. This album has songs from all of their albums bar MACHINA II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music which was Mp3 download only. The band had been through the mill by the end of their career, going through a few line up changes including the discarding of Jimmy Chamberlain who was replaced byÖA DRUM MACHINE! And the quitting of DíArcy Wretzky, who was replaced with Melissa auf der Maur, After the commercial failure of Machina, the machines of god, Billy Corgan decided to call time on the pumpkins.
Now, letís jump onto this album.
starts the flow of the album rather nicely, with James and Billy both exhibiting their guitar playing ability. It also demonstrates BillyísÖ unusual singing voice rather well along with Wretzkyís bass playing and Chamberlainís drumming skills. Around the 2:50 mark the guitars cut out and Chamberlain plays a very soft drum beat, the guitar then comes back in with some very soft vocals and you could be forgiven for thinking the song ends there. Not too long after this, the song goes back to full volume. The track is a great one to start. 3.5/5
is the second Gish track on this compilation, much more mellow than Siva. However, it still does have its rockier moments. The song starts with whatís either a choir ďahhhhhh"ing or the guitar, but itís a different intro than a lot of songs have anyway. The song is also the longest on the album, nearly clocking in at 6 minutes. It is, however, 6 minutes of goodness with Billyís repetition of ďshe knows" setting a tone for this song. Watch out around the 3 minute mark as the song slips into a heavier state with an amazing solo, which, it has to be said, putís a lot of modern guitarists in the shade.
The song then stays in this heavier state until its conclusion. This song is probably one of the best youíll hear in a while 5/5
We move onto the end of the Gish era with Drown
. the song begins with a mellow guitar riff with the drums then coming in. I tend to find the lyrics to this a bit depressing.
The song is a good one to relax to, with the guitar up until the halfway point of the song being quiet, gentle and even peaceful until we get the mid-point solo. (Iím noticing a trend here of change in tone at the halfway point) the song then returns to itís normal, mellow self, the song then ends loud and up-tempo, which, I feel, spoils it as itís a great song to sit and relax to 2.5/5
The Siamese Dream period of this album begins with Cherub Rock
. The song begins with a snare drum roll, the bass joins in then the guitars join in. I think part of the smashing pumpkins beauty is their obscure lyrics, I certainly canít find a meaning in them. The vocals here seem to personify what puts people off of the smashing pumpkins though; Billy just doesnít have the voice for some of this song. The instruments in this song all work really well together but it doesnít make me sit up and listen like the previous songs did 2/5
I donít think thereís really much need to go over today
, but Iíll do it for completeness. This song starts off with what my friends hail as ďthe ice cream van intro" and no matter how much I try, the ice cream van riff stays in my head. The drums for the most part are rather good, but, like most songs on this album, the bass is nearly non-existent. The lyrics to this could probably be taken two ways or more. Billyís voice compliments this song rather well though, and unlike cherub rock he doesnít use that really nasal part of his voice 4/5
marks the end of the Siamese dream albumís showing and it works really well. The church bells through the song are quite a nice touch. The only instruments on this that are in all the pumpkins songs are the drums and the guitar, however, here we see the first entrance of the violin which makes for a quiet, mellowing song, dare I say, a chillout song. Billyís lyrics seem quite poignant in the world weíre in today. This is a song you will have in your head for a good while
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The Mellon CollieÖ albumís piece begins with Bullet with Butterfly Wings
. The song begins with Billy singing ďthe world is a vampire" then the instruments join into the song. The verses are quiet whereas the chorus is loud and nicely done as well with Billy yelling ďdespite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage". Billyís voice seems different in this song but that may be because it involves him yelling at the top of his lungs. The guitar riff in this song is really nothing to write home about apart from one or two parts in the song. The vocals are really what carry this song I think 4/5
has an intro which consists of some effects at the start and Billy kind ofÖhumming describes it rather well. The song itself consists of rather nice lyrics along with a very nice piece of rhythm keeping. The drumbeat is fresh and the keyboard compliments the song very well. The guitar in this song sounds quite basic but it works really well with the general feeling of the song. Again, Billyís choruses are very well written. This is what I believe to be a staple of the pumpkins; they know how to write a good song. The song is a very mellow song in comparison to a lot of the songs that have come before on the album. 4/5
is the second last song from Mellon Collie to appear on this album, it is also the shortest and one of the heavier ones on the album. It begins with a rather cool guitar riff which carries on through the song with one or two variations. The drumbeat here is nothing to write home about. However, Billyís voice is very good on this song and the solo three quarters of the way through the song is a few seconds of guitar craziness. The only downside to this song along with most of the songs on this album is the bass, itís non-existent in a lot of the tracks and here is no exception. A good track anyway 3.5/5
The track that closes the Mellon Collie Chapter of the smashing pumpkins story is Tonight, Tonight
. the violins in this track make this fresh, new, different to other songs on this album, a very simple guitar riff carries this song in the verses but the real stars on this song are the violinists who make an already good song into a classic. Billyís vocals again compliment this song rather well, a good few people say Billy canít sing, I think he can, he has an unusual voice, but the voice carries the songs. This one is a true classic song that deserves to be heard if you havenít already 5/5
wasnít on any of the Pumpkins studio albums, it was instead on a film soundtrack. The intro to this is synth, which I think takes a little bit away from the song as the synth loop is rather grating after a while, you also have the lack of a drummer, yes, the drums are electronic, the only good synth part in this song is the first pre-chorus ďturn to the gates of heavenÖ". Billyís voice just doesnít work in this song AT ALL, itís as irritating as hell and to be brutally honest, so is this song
The first of two songs from the Adore album is Ava Adore
. This is another one of the pumpkinsí songs that depends more of less entirely on electronics, which, I think is the pumpkinsí weak point. One of the highlights for the previous songs on this album was the drumming; however, since chamberlainís replacement by a drum machine takes place, the songs have lost a little bit of their sparkle. The lyrics are rather basic as well. The choruses in this song however, are rather good, granted not as good as earlier songs but good all the same. This is another song that doesnít really grab me. It is an average song though. 2.5/5
Unlike Ava Adore, the other Adore song on this compilation is one of my favourites. Perfect
is quite mellow, which I think is good considering the amount of faster songs that have preceded it. Billyís songwriting skills come to light again and he seems to find some of his old vocal ability. Chamberlain comes back into the frame on this song, which adds that little bit of sparkle back into the mix, the guitar in this track is quite cool as well. This song is a good demonstration of how synths can add to a song if not carry it, itís not the most noticeable but itís loud enough to hear. A great song to chill to 4.5/5
Machina: The Machines of god
The final stretch in the way of released songs, the Machina era begins with The Everlasting Gaze
. This is definitely the heaviest song on the album and for once, you CAN hear the bass!!!! This song is very well written and takes advantage of the more nasal tone in Billy Corganís voice. Itís also the beginning of the deterioration in Chamberlainís drumming, very basic drumbeat. The synth and the heavy guitar riff make up for this though. The only thing that I can find that would put people off of this song is Corganís vocals, itís not a song to listen to if Corgan irritates you but otherwise a great song to listen to 4/5
Stand inside your love
has all of the components of a Classic Pumpkins song the synth isnít domineering, the drum beat has a nice feel, the guitars are cool and Billy switches through all of his vocal ranges (nasal to normal). The song clocks in around about 4 minutes and leaves you wanting more. The bass, again, is audible, it seems that Wretzky quitting was the best thing as the bass adds a nice element to this song. Billyís vocals as usual make this song great and the tone in this song all around is amazing. This is definitely a must hear
The last song on this album that was released is Try, Try, Try
. the song has a piano loop playing through the verses. The loop is changed a bit now and then to keep it fresh, this has a much mellower tone than some of the songs on this. Jimmyís Drumming on this song and indeed, on this album in general is amazing. You can see why the pumpkins wanted him back as the electronic drumming wasnít all that nice whereas Jimmy can do a lot on the drums to liven up a song. James and Billyís guitar playing has a nice effect on this song and the only thing that stops it from being a classic song is Billyís vocals not working with the music that well 4/5
The unreleased songs begin with Real love
which opens up with basically, a wall of sound. Jimmyís drumming on this track is quite nice as are Billyís vocals and Jamesí Guitar playing. The synths compliment the track quite well but despite the instruments and vocals being nice on their own, they just donít click that well together. Itís not a [u]bad[u/] song, but it can get a bit tiresome at 4 minutes long. One that, at best, is average
The album closer is Untitled
, which is a great track and should be heard by all. The guitars compliment each other amazingly well and the solo before it slips back into acoustic guitar is quite nice. Jimmyís Drumming is the real star of this song and indeed, the star on the pumpkins. Billyís vocals in this song work really well, the only problem is the bass is non-existent here, which is a shame as the Machina songs had nice basslines but the solos in this song MORE than make up for the lack of audible bass
This, it has to be said, is a must if you want to get into the pumpkins.
Even if you hate the pumpkins, download these: