The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits {Rotten Apples} Review

Released 2001.  

BBC Review

the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end with Corgan's strained vocals presiding...

Dan Tallis 2002

As is usual at this time of year, some bands release Greatest Hits packages and some will release collections of B-sides and rarities. This release does both in one-handy-suits-all double CD.

The Greatest Hits disc, named Rotten Apples, features a decades worth of work from their first album Gish to their last, Machina / the machines of God. All your favourite songs are here including "Cherub Rock" and "Today", the hits that took the cool alternative band into stadium rock territory. These tracks still make the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end with Billy Corgan's strained vocals presiding over raging guitars and relentless drum beats.

The band built their success on angst fuelled lyrics, getting wild and loud whilst remaining controlled and tuneful and therefore accessible to the masses. The heavy tracks are there ("Zero" & "Stand Inside Your Love") but they are placed next to the quieter, dreamy pop songs ("Tonight, Tonight" & "Try, Try, Try"). The highs and lows of their music are inevitably compared to their off the field activities.

Siamese Dream catapulted them to stardom but then the band almost collapsed when drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and Jonathan Melvoin, the group's touring keyboardist, overdosed on heroin. Melvoin died and although Chamberlin survived, he was temporarily fired from the band. The remaining members managed to re-group, with the near perfect "Perfect" being the high point of the Adore album. Then suddenly Corgan announced that it was all over and their 2000 tour would be their last, ensuring that they finished on a high rather pursuing a career treading water.

The Judas O B-sides and rarities collection will satisfy Pumpkin obsessives with its outtakes from the Adore and Machina sessions, but it simply cannot compete with its sister CD. "Here's to the Atom Bomb", "Waiting" and "Rock On", (yes, a cover of the David Essex classic - which also features lyrics from Van Halen songs) stand out from the others, which at worst slip into incoherent rock ramblings.

A rare pleasure these days, a collection of tracks that span a band's career that can actually justify the Greatest Hits title. If you love the sound of a guitar being put through its paces, then this is a must for your stocking this Christmas.

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