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Well. After 2,771,534,346,283 of your e-mails, I have decided to give you, my readers, the full review of all the Smashing Pumpkins records, one by one, all in one comfortable, portable review. Why? Because I gotta, mister.
So where to start off? How about the beginning? Well, then that's where we shall go. Since it was the first record of the Pumpkins that I owned, it seems only fair anyhow. So here's Gish.
gish (1991) 8/10
Ahh...good ol' Butch Vig and Caroline Records. THOSE were the days. Billy had long Morrison hair, Jimmy was just coming out of a jazz band. It was the primordial ooze of fantastic music to come. I actually had the tape in late '97, when I actually stepped away from crappy music and paid attention to what was really going on. My parents had no idea who the "Smashed Punkins" were, and were nervous, but willing, to by me an album of theirs for Christmas. So there I was, 3 AM (we celebrate Christmas like it should be: 1 AM Present Destruction), playing Vectorman 2 on my Sega Genesis and listening to the new band I was into. Now I'd heard Zero and Bullets With Butterfly Wings, and being the ignoramus I was, I had no idea who Kurt Cobain or that whole grunge thing was. So I certainly wasn't expecting this. And then Jimmy's drums for "I am One" kicked in. It was like a breath of fresh air to my soul. Soon I was hooked to this album. There was no getting me away from it. I still listen to it whenever I'm in contact with tape players. "Siva" and "Rhinoceros" were always faves. "Bury Me", "Tristessa", and "Snail" became my soundtrack. I had never heard this kind of awkward emotion. It was sadness mixed with rock, but it wasn't obvious power chords. It was spacey and intelligent all at the same time. This album shaped the rest of my life. Now it isn't the best album in the world, but it's the most influential to me, right next to Nada Surf's "High/Low" and "Let Go" (Their review will come when they put out their next CD early 2005...or if I just feel like doing it.) The music itself was average, yet so new. "Daydream", with its strings and D'arcy's voice, was great. And the hidden track at the end of the tape...well let's just say that I'd never heard that on any album before, so I didn't know if it was just some anomaly that just happened. Naive, yes. But also absolutely in love with this band. Great beginning.
So what's next? Should I just drudge through to the next album? Nah, I'll just write about the next album I recieved.
Adore (1998) 10/10
This was different sonically to gish, but not so much. It was just a lot darker and prettier. I love the vibe of dark dresses, gloomy girls, and graceful dance. The first song, "Ava Adore", didn't catch me off guard, but "Perfect" definitely did. The lyrics and video were just beautiful. Yet the best was yet to come. "Daphne Descends" comes up next, and it packs a wallop. Best music is made during bridges in my belief, and this song did it perfectly. "And through the pinhole stars..." Just awesome music that touches the deepest core of emotion. The next couple of songs were just as good, but nothing prepared me for "Pug" ("Eye" should have, but I was still unaware at the time). The mix of techno-synth, crunching guitars, and beautiful melody just was flawless in every respect. "Annie-Dog" was such an odd song to come after that, but it still fit. So then came "Shame", with me trying forever to mimic the drums. Back then I wasn't interested in guitar yet. I thought all the good stuff was behind the kit. Well, while that's true, I know I can't really get very far on just drums. So I bought the guitar instead. (200 songs strong! Not that I can remember them all.) Then the music I had been looking for my whole life came next. "Behold! The Night Mare" was the saddest, purest, darkest, happiest, most captivating song I had ever heard. I listened to it at least 100 times straight. Then I hit "For Martha", and I asked myself, "WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THIS?? Every song is AMAZING! How can one band get so many good damn songs on one CD???" This is the point that I fell absolutely head-over-heels for the Smashing Pumpkins. This is the point that I bought every single one of their albums and listened to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE (no radio or other CD) for 2 YEARS. And they are fucking worth it. You might think I'm exaggerating about the whole no other music for two years. I can assure you, I'm in no mood to exaggerate. 1998-2000. Well, early 2001. Hey, when a band breaks up, one that you love so much, it kinda hits you pretty hard and you get pissed at them and swear them off for a while. Luckily I came back to my senses REAL quick. Anyway, back to Adore. In conclusion, the pinnacle of dark, graceful noise.
So now I'll go in album succession, mainly because I can't remember which one I bought first because I tried to get them so fast.
siamese dream (1993) 8/10
I know most Pumpkins fans will HATE me for saying this, but this is their least enjoyable album in my opinion, and I still love it. "Spaceboy" and "Sweet Sweet" were instant faves in my book. I have to be honest, I got tired of "Disarm" real fast. It's probably because so many bands nowadays mimic it, that it doesn't seem fresh and new. "Today" of course was great. "Hummer", "Silverfuck" and "Quiet" were so much fun as well. But the reason this album goes from 6 to 8/10 is simple. "Mayonaise" and "Geek U.S.A." Let's go with the last first. "Geek U.S.A." is how a fucking rock song SHOULD be. Just soarin guitars and a fuck-you attitude, it's second-best on the album. THE NUMBER ONE SONG ON THIS ALBUM IS "MAYONAISE". No ifs, ands, or buts. This song literally saved my life twice. I was in suicide-mode a few times, and this song rewired my circuits, setting me on the straight and narrow. James and Billy's guitar are the most beautiful noises you can get out of the damn machine. No honest sappiness. Just plain honest. That's all for this CD. Nothing left to say. Except "Luna" kicks ass. And the video for "Rocket" is hilarious.
mellon collie and the infinite sadness (1995) 9/10 :fresh:
Well we have a double-discer here. The first disc, Dawn to Dusk, with "Zero" and "Bullets With Butterfly Wings", has a ton of singles. "Galapagos" is a beautiful song about love, while "Love", well....isn't. James Iha's song "Take Me Down" is a sweet closing to it. While a few songs like "Cupid de Locke" and "Here is No Why" are quite catchy and intelligent, others like "To Forgive" and "An Ode to No One (Fuck You)" are good, but nothing new under the sun. "Jellybelly" is all Pumpkins, though, in all their glory. :)
As for Twilight to Starlight, the music here is at its very best. Starting off with the intense "Where Boys Fear to Tread", this blue disc contains an awesome compilation of music that , alone, it would have sold just as well as Siamese Dream. "Bodies" finds Billy screaming that "love is suicide" behind a wall of echoing distortion. The sound feels like it's literally ripping open your speakers. Then comes my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song (the video is my fave as well): "Thirty-Three". While an odd tuning, the lyrics Billy presents remind me of an autumn afternoon, where it's just cool outside on a surburban street...trees lining the side of the road and dead leaves lay on the road and grass. And so we sadly have to leave that great song behind and hit "1979". This is such a good song to listen to in the car. Believe me, I have multiple times. Teen angst doesn't get any better than this. "We Only Come Out at Night" and "Beautiful" find the Pumpkins starting to enter into the more electronic/synth of their musical tendencies. But two of the best closing songs for any album ever are "By Starlight" and "Farewell and Goodnight", both just leaving you filled with the meloncholy they're trying to get across. Wonderful, wonderful album. (In fact, I think I'll listen to it again right now.)
Now I know a lot of peope love this album but for critics, it was Adore that stole their heart. While I have to admit, it stole mine, a lot of fans believed that Adore was a bad album. Well, I disagree. Adore is better than Melon Collie only because the ideas and the way they are executed are much more uniform. Love is good and then bad and then good again on Melon Collie. It wasn't all about that on their next album. So it's like comparing "Appels + Oranjes". You like that??! That's a PUN, BEEYATCHES! ....whatever.
Alright! Alright! So I missed an album. I'm sleepy, dammit. Sue me.
pisces iscariot (1994) 7/10 :fresh:
Ah. The definitive B-side album to Siamese Dream. Well, "Soothe" is a beautiful song, along with "Plume". The only song on this album that I'm not a fan of, ironically, is "Landslide". While I believe it is sung the way it should be sung by Billy, there are just better songs than Fleetwood Mac's on this album. "Helly Kitty Kat" is hands-down best song on the album. It's fast, loud, kick ass, and sweet all at the same time. "Pissant" and "Spacey" are other favorites, while "Blue" and "Girl Named Sandoz" rock out quite nicely. "Starla" is a glittery 11 minute song based on a girl Billy met at a party. The liner notes are exceptional and quite fun (if not challenging) to read. Not one of their better ones, but this album is worth it (obviously) if you're a huge fan like I am. So off we go, just a few more albums. :D
Aeroplane Flies High (Box Set: Singles/B-sides of Melon Collie) (1996)
ANOTHER five discs!? Even MORE songs??! It's like Christmas! Except in my case, it was. I think I cried when I got this...no wait, I did. I cried. Yeah. And for good goddamn reason. From the covers on the "Bullets with Butterfly Wings" single to the 23 minute collage of kick ass songs on "Pastichio Medley" on the "Zero" single, this is quite easily the best Smashing Pumpkins material. A huge booklet with words by Billy and James along with all the lyrics and tons of pictures make this a must own, no matter what the price.
I'll review each single individually.
- "Zero" Single 9/10 :fresh:
Like I said before, "Pastichio Medley" is great. With forty-plus snippits of songs not on the album, it just makes me thirst for more of that beautiful noise the Pumpkins make so well. "God" and "Mouths of Babes" are fantastic selections, but "Marquis of Spades" is the hardest rocking of all the hard rock songs on this disc. "Pennies" is slightly less so, but only by a little. It's sweet and soft, but still as sharp as razorblades.
- "Tonight, Tonight" Single 6/10 :fresh:
Of course, this is the lowest score anything the Pumpkins have done will I give, but it's almost rotten. Songs like "Rotten Apples" and "Tonight Reprise" are okay, but nothing spectacular. The saving grace of this disc is "Medellia of Grey Skies". With it's beautiful lyrics and above-average guitar play, it is a great love song to play to your secret crush. If they don't fall in love with you after hearing it, well they weren't worth it in the first place, those selfish bitches.
- "Bullets with Butterfly Wings" Single 10/10 :fresh:
Now I'll be honest, I am NOT a fan of the song, but the single is fantastic. "Bullets" was just overplayed and as I watched everyone "enjoy" the song, it seemed as though they were just "raging" just because it was hip to do. For some reason it just turned me off to that song. But as usual, guitars were great. James' song next took me by surprise. "Said Sadly" is me and my fiance's fave song of his. It just perfectly fit with with the rest of the single, which they themselves could be singles. All covers, the best of which being the Blondie cover at the end, they show a much lighter side of the Pumpkins. "Destination Unknown", a Rush song, is filled to the brim with screeching synth and robotic singing, which is just perfect.
- "Thirty-Three" Single 10/10 :fresh:
While "Thirty-Three" by itself as a single would garner this disc a 10/10, but because of the rest of it, I only wish I could go higher. "The Last Song" (played with Billy's dad) reminds me of playing Twisted Metal 3 on my new Playstation at the time. "No one comes for free..." Billy croons to his father's acoustic plucking with a beautiful background piano serenade. "The Aeroplane Flies High (Looks Left, Looks Right)" is an eight minute grandiose grunge opus, complete with Billy's inner thoughts flickering in and out from time to time. "Transformer" and the cover of "My Blue Heaven" take this CD even higher up the rating chart, but "Bells" bring it right back down. James' song just doesn't quite fit. Doesn't hurt it much at all, as you can see.
- "1979" Single 9/10 :fresh:
"Ugly" and "Cherry" are good and slightly old-school Pumpkins, but it's "The Boy" and "Set the Ray to Jerry" that bring this single to life. James redeems himself after "Bells" completely. The slight emo touch to the song, along with the exact same beat as "1979" probably doesn't hurt him much either. The bass in "Set the Ray to Jerry" is quite simple, yet it screams complexity at every plucking of the string.
Sheesh. Well...only one more to go.
machina/ the machines of god (2000) 10/10 :fresh:
I just cannot understand why people do not absolutely love this album. "Heavy Metal Machine" is NOT too long. "The Everlasting Gaze" is one of the best rock songs ever recorded. These songs led me to where I am musically now. "The Age of Innocence", the closing track of this 80 minute gigantic monster, is slightly off tempo, but beautiful nonetheless. "With Every Light" and "Raindrops + Sunshowers" bring the Pumpkins back to the Adore era slightly, with their sweet acoustic or slightly synth sound. But songs like "Heavy Metal Machine" (a seven minute song so coarse you'd swear you were swallowing a flaming pile of sandpaper) and "Glass and the Ghost Children" (some of the best Pumpkins lyrics ever reside in this 10 minute beauty) carry the torch of the new direction the Pumpkins took (before disbanding obviously). "Glass and the Ghost Children" seems like two songs with a small interlude of Billy in a distorted tone. "All the spiders/ crawled up inside her" seem like easy enough lyrics to approach, but they speak in multitudes of emotions without having to relay any pointless bullshit. This album is tied with Adore and Aeroplane as the Pumpkins very best, even if it was their technical last album.
I know. I know. I could review the Siamese Box set, the Moon Demos, Machina II, among others. But man, I'm friggin tired. And this is long enough. My dedication to write this review for what seems to be only for myself just shows how good this band was and how much they are worth the trouble. We may never see a reunion, but we have a HUGE selection of songs to keep us happy until we begin our descent into decay. So with that, I leave you with a quote by the Man himself, Billy Corgan.
"If practice makes perfect, and nobody's perfect, why practice?"
Look for my next review of god knows what coming soon! (After I take a long long nap)...
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