Wait a minute — didn’t Smashing Pumpkins already release a greatest hits album? It was called Gish, wasn’t it?
OK, OK — snarkiness aside, Smashing Pumpkins deserves much, much, much credit for thinking large and being ambitious.
They set out to be the biggest band in the world, and while they didn’t exactly knock U2 off its mantle, the Pumpkins certainly tower over 90s rock.
“Siva” and “Rhinocerous” from Gish establish the tone of Rotten Apples and mark the high bar the Pumpkins would attempt to surpass time and again.
The band’s loyal and avid fans would argue quite passionately Billy Corgan and company did exactly that. A curmudgeon like myself would assert the quartet’s ambitions backfired more times than it should have.
Right from the start, the Pumpkins recognized the value of volume — pulling back, then blazing out, going from whisper to a scream. As a result, the band’s earliest work showed a maturity and understanding of music that had few of its peers had at the time.
It’s too bad “I Am One” wasn’t included in this set.
Then Corgan decided walls and walls of guitars — as the ones that totally bogged down the bloated Siamese Dream tracks — wasn’t enough.
So strings and glockenspiels and rhythm machines started to encroach into the band’s basic but visceral rock sound.
“Disarm” would have been even more powerful if it had been strings, chimes and timpani only. Same goes for “Tonight, Tonight”.
While the idea of a more robotic Smashing Pumpkins seemed good on paper for Adore, the actual execution left more to be desired, as demonstrated here on “Eye”.
These transgressions aside, the fat has been cut out of the Pumpkins prolific output on Rotten Apples, leaving only the brightest spots of the Pumpkins’ repertoire.
Despite Adore’s lackluster commercial response, it did yield “Perfect” and “Ava Adore”, and despite my obvious hatred for Siamese Dream, “Today” is still a pretty good song.
The collection doesn’t rewrite history the way Faith No More’s Who Cares a Lot? does, but it at least allows casual fans who didn’t want to give up valuable shelf space for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness to own that album’s hits.
A second volume of b-sides, Judas O, is definitely geared for fans. The tracks sound like the leftovers they are.
Smashing Pumpkins is an admirable band, even if Billy Corgan took himself a bit too seriously in the end, and Rotten Apples makes a good supplement to a collection that includes Gish and MACHINA/The Machines of God.