Smashing Pumpkins : Rotten Apples

Greatest hits with a difference from defunct art-grungers...

It might not beSmashing Pumpkins‘ most idiosyncratic move but, one year on from those tear-stained farewell gigs, they’ve done the normal thing and released a Greatest Hits compilation. And, with Billy Corgan‘s leather dresses packed up for good, it’s all we’re left with.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not your usual pre-Christmas stocking filler. Because, from the title to the exhausting limited second CD (mainly rare B-sides and clunky cast-offs from the ‘Machina’ and ‘Adore’ sessions), it displays all their usual contrariness that permeates their best music.

So, to name but four, from the monumental grit of ‘Siva’, to the swirling, grand ‘Tonight, Tonight’, the niggling greatness of ‘1979’ and the industrial stomp of ‘The Everlasting Gaze’ this defies normal Greatest Hits logic to actually sound like a proper, coherent album. Yet for students of Corgan‘s changing whims, it also highlights their changes, charting their progress from heartfelt grunge (albeit with a substantially more florid approach to riffs than their contemporaries) through a sense of creeping weirdness, to the clatter and crunch of the ‘Machina…’ tracks.

Most of all, however, it proves they constantly strove to break the boundaries of the stolid rock band, mostly succeeded, and then had the grace to split up in orderly fashion. Which, as new track ‘Untitled’ suggests they were about to turn into Cast, is a highly-commendable thing.

Goodwill left intact, ‘Rotten Apples’ sounds less like a post-split cash-in and more a collection of great songs. With Corgan promising they’ll never reform, cherish it.

Jim Alexander

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