Girl Named Sandoz [Live] - Smashing Pumpkins, Burdon, Eric
Dolly Vita [Live]
The Smashing Pumpkins are a big rock band, molded by leader Billy Corgan after stadium and progressive rock giants from the Seventies. As such it's only fitting that after only two albums they would release a collection of... more » B-sides. The result, Pisces Iscariot, is not only a good compendium to their other work, but it's a very good record in its own right. Most of the 14 tracks follow the Pumpkins' blueprint, traveling sonically from soft to loud and back again. Among the slew of originals previously available on singles and imports is a hauntingly beautiful cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." Surprisingly there's less fat here than on 1995's bloated Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. --Greg Emmanuel« less
The Smashing Pumpkins are a big rock band, molded by leader Billy Corgan after stadium and progressive rock giants from the Seventies. As such it's only fitting that after only two albums they would release a collection of B-sides. The result, Pisces Iscariot, is not only a good compendium to their other work, but it's a very good record in its own right. Most of the 14 tracks follow the Pumpkins' blueprint, traveling sonically from soft to loud and back again. Among the slew of originals previously available on singles and imports is a hauntingly beautiful cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." Surprisingly there's less fat here than on 1995's bloated Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. --Greg Emmanuel
Walter B. (AquariumWB) from BROOKLYN, NY Reviewed on 3/10/2010...
One of the most impressive albums by the awesome awesome awesomest Smashing Pumpkins. This collection of B sides that didn't make it on the Siamese Dream album is fantastic. It would've sucked if they decided to trash or shelve the songs all together. Songs like Frail & Bedazzled, Hello Kitty Kat, Pissant, and Blue are superiorly crafted.
In my opinion, all Smashing Pumpkins albums beyond this one have not been able to capture what Pisces Iscariot or Siamese Dream excel in music-wise. If you like the Pumpkins and don't have this album -- GET IT and listen to the songs I listed. Soooo gooood!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Amy E. from AUSTIN, TX Reviewed on 8/24/2006...
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 09/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most bands with genuine rock creation going on end up with some B-sides, and the Smashing Pumpkins were no exception. While it has no internal cohesion, "Pisces Iscariot" is a solid album in its own right, with the mix of bombastic and balladic that the Pumpkins did so very, very well.
With a few exceptions like Broken Social Scene, B-side albums usually have a few enchanting songs, surrounded by half-formed songs that might be good when they grow up. "Pisces Iscariot".... is not one such album. Virtually all of these songs are worthy of being A-sides.
The Pumpkins were one of those rare bands that did both quiet and loud songs equally well. There are mellower, beautiful songs like "Soothe," the beautiful cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," or the rather wispy "Whir." On the other hand, there is the rock side: frenetic "Frail and Bedazzled," steady "Plume" and jagged "Pissant." Then there's the center jewel of the album, the steadily built-up "Starla," which starts soft and turns into pure sonic insanity.
The instrumentation has a raw quality -- it doesn't sound unpolished, but it does have a lot of unbridled power and enthusiasm. Billy Corgan was in good form during each recorded track, including the one from his apartment, be it fuzz-rock, distorted jams or his acoustic guitar, with James Iha quietly and exceptionally backing him up. And as the finishing touch, there's outstanding drumming by Jimmy Chamberlin.
Corgan's voice is a bit off in "Landslide," but otherwise his high vocals fit in as well as always. James Iha also gets to shine in "Blew Away." And the songwriting is a bit more simplistic ("You hear a lot of visions/you can't even stop/can't see what you're missing/spinning like a top") than the usual Corgan fare, but still quite pretty to listen to.
"Pisces Iscariot" is a rare beast among B-side albums -- the B-side album that is better than many regular rock releases. And whether you're a Pumpkins fan or a newbie, it's a solid listen."
Samhot | Star Land | 03/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Smashing Pumpkins' music that made the actual studio albums were, for the most part, nothing short of enigmatic, yet positively beautiful, otherworldly, mood-inducing and cathartic. The songs that didn't make the albums, however, are just as stunning and deserving of the attention from any Pumpkin fan. In fact, some of these songs could surpass some of the ones that actually made the albums; further evidencing the need to own the B-sides.
_Pisces Iscariot_ is a collection of B-sides and outtakes deriving mostly from the _Siamese Dream_ sessions, while a couple derive from the _Gish_ sessions, and one track is taken from the (now) hard-to-find _Lull_ EP.
A reviewer below makes a great observation: _Pisces Iscariot_ doesn't feature the overall grandiose, bombastic consistency of mood found on _Siamese Dream_ and subsequent Pumpkins studio albums. Instead, there's more of an intimate, lo-fi and subtly nostalgic mood that permeates these recordings. But, regardless, the trademark Pumpkins' mix of soft, dreamy ambience, and overdriven sonic extremeties are here aplenty.
Some of my favorites: "Soothe" is a track recorded in Billy Corgan's bedroom. An intimate, low-key acoustic track featuring autumnal chords, which provide as the backdrop for Billy's equally intimate, breathy mannerisms. "Frail and Bedazzled" is a retro-sounding rocker with a tint of psychedelic mannerisms. The swirling guitars, the precise, yet seductively-rhythmic drumming from Jimmy Chamberlain (this guy was mind-blowing on the kit), and D'Arcy's bottom-heavy basslines coalesce to create this indescribably beautiful number.
"Whir" is simply one of the most preciously beautiful things this band ever did, and they have done many, to say the least. The dreamy melody, punctuated by the strumming of the seemingly-unplugged strings, the willowy, subtle line overdubs, and Billy's breathy vocals are some of the few things that help to create this monumental beauty. The minor-key ending was a nice way to round off this one. "Blew Away" is a dreamy number by James Iha. The first part starts off slow, only to end on a heavier note.
The next two songs are the Pumpkins at their explosive best: "Pissant" is almost punk-like in it's rhythm and lyrics, yet you would rarely find overdriven guitars as thick and heavy as this in most punk songs. "Hello Kitty Kat" is almost ambient in it's heaviness; the heaviness and overdriven sonics are so extreme, that it nearly crosses over into house & techno. The wall-of-sound is massive here, and Billy's soft voice is beautifully drowned in the explosive mix. It creates a wonderful effect, and the noise only gets more intense as the song progresses. What's more astounding? The noise is actually melodic and almost trance-inducing.
After those last two sonic powerhouses, we are brought back into the band's softer side. "Obscured" is a beautifully-meandering, mood-inducing number, which actually ends on an eerie, fuzzed-out note. "Landslide" is the Pumpkins' cover of the famous Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac track. Billy and gang actually did a nifty job on this performance. Billy claims that this song is quite an inspiration on him, and that he highly identifies with it. "Starla" is an 11-minute powerhouse. Starts off smoothly and melodically, with a few psychedelic-like backdrops. Then, later, it concludes with a swirling, drawn-out instrumental jam that you could easily lose yourself in.
Not much else needs to be said. If you're a Pumpkins fan, you won't want to be without it. Of course, if you really are a Pumpkins fan, you already do have it. But, by the subtle chance that you fall into the former, you've got my recommendation, to say the least.
Noisy din from classic Pumpkins era
Sal Nudo | Champaign, Illinois | 08/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, so it's not all a noisy din. For instance, the aptly named first song, "Soothe," features a gentle opening with only Billy Corgan's close voice and a wispy acoustic guitar. Recorded in his apartment at the spur of the moment on some beautiful inspiration, "Soothe" catches the essence and spirit of this great album.
These awesome backburner B-sides probably best the songs heard on Gish, for the most part. "Pisces Iscariot" is the definition of spontaneous musical output, songs truly recorded in the spirit of the moment in the early 1990s. "Plume" features a lazy and rough-grinding riff, accompanied by endearing slacker values: "I don't care to give enough," moans Corgan morosely, as if he has no intention of becoming the hip new voice of his generation. After the breezy tunes "Whir" and "Blew Away," this album really kicks into a higher gear, as the supreme rockers "Pissant" and "Hello Kitty Kat" blow everything over within one hundred feet of their path, like an angry tornado of sound. These two songs are as raw and feisty as this band has ever been, and were recorded in a muffled style at a fast and furious pace. Perhaps it's not ear candy, especially for those expecting tunes like "Today," "Mayonaise" or "Sweet Sweet," but it is some great rock and roll. Between Jimmy Chamerlain's snappy and forceful drums, the all-encompassing bellowing guitars and a huge bass sound, one can't help but be bowled over. "Hello Kitty Kat" is especially a hard-driving tune, easily one of the hardest of this band's storied career. On it, the Pumpkins sound like a bunch of teenagers trying to prove themselves, which may not be too far from the truth.
As a whole, it's the middle of "Pisces Iscariot" that is untouchable. After the hard rockers, "Obscured," a dreamy acoustic tune with a country-tinged slide guitar and laid-back lyrics, slows things down to a mesmerizing degree. One of the Pumpkins' best slow songs ever, "Obscured" is achingly beautiful. And "Starla" (like many of these songs), probably deserved A-side status somewhere in the Pumpkin cannon. It begins slow, psychadelic and seductive, with soft and echoey guitars that build to climactically buzzing electric guitars, which then revert back to quiet, simple, almost humble beginnings. Meanwhile, Corgan repetatively sings basically the same lyrics and refrain, which leads to a dramatic, purposely long, guitar-fueled, bass-heavy grand finale. "Starla" is one of the coolest rock songs ever written.
Arguably, "Pisces Iscariot" may have ended just fine on the energized aura of "Starla." Anything after that song is bound to be a bit of a letdown. However, some of the album's more interesting tunes kick in at the end. "Blue" can also be found on the short EP Lull, and was a nice addition to this album. "Girl Named Sandoz" has a grittier, almost blues/rock feel, quite different from most of Corgan's work to that point. The following "La Dolly Vita" has a certain swaying groove, and probably ranks as the album's most polished effort. Corgan branches out yet again on "Spaced, the closing tune, indeed a relaxing and spacey piece of work, full of echoes and a whining slide guitar. The last three songs stick out like a sore thumb amid the early-'90s vibe of the proceeding songs, yet they show Corgan further spreading his sonic wings and branching out his style. It's easy to see why so many thought this band had great potential at such a young age. Full of fire, spirit and talent, fed from a charismatic and ambitious lead singer, the Smashing Pumpkins owned the world with these remarkable songs."
Fantastic collection has some of my all-time favorite SP son
Rich Latta | Albuquerque, NM - Land of Entitlement | 07/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of non-album tracks is quite diverse as it explores both the most quiet and the hardest-rocking extremes this band was capable of. Too bad it skipped some fantastic non-album material like "Glynis," but record companies tend to keep some gems in the "harder-to-find" category so fanatic collectors can feel special (and mastermind/uber-ego Billy Corgan obviously had something to do with it). I'm a fan, but since I don't have any particular inside info about the band to impart (except that I just read today that Billy is trying to get the band together again), I'll just relay my impressions of PISCES ISCARIOT -------->
"Soothe" - a gorgeous performance on vocal and acoustic guitar by head Pumpkin Billy Corgan recorded at home. *****
"Frail and Bedazzled" - supercharged balls-to-the-wall rockin' out. *****
"Plume" -one of my very favorite SP tunes, this one really captures a certain "don't give a f@#%" feeling that I myself am prone to fairly often. Corgan's piercing guitar really soars on this one when he solos and he makes excellent, trippy use of some kind of foot peddle or thingamajig (a tech wizard I am not). *****+
"Whir" - an easy-going tune, nice and melodic, although I'm not crazy about the way it ends (with a rather ineffective guitar riff that sounds a little too melodramatic for my tastes). ***1/2
"Blew Away" - another mellow cut with James Iha on vocals. Apparently Corgan left Iha to his own devices on this one and it turned out really nice. ****
"Pissant" - The thrashiest track on PISCES, and a real shot of adrenaline. Frantic drumming from Jimmy Chamberlin. ****1/2
"Hello Kitty Kat" - steady, super-heavy rocker. Great chord changes at the chorus. *****
"Obscured" - a pretty, meandering little journey via acoustic guitar strum, simple percussion and ringing electric guitar touches. Wonderous vocal from Corgan. But he almost kills the mood with that distracting drone at the end of the song. ****1/2
"Landslide" - Stevie Nicks cover, gorgeous and very effective. Corgan delivers a heart-felt vocal that stands on its own, a worthy interpretation with a different feel from Stevie Nicks (who admittedly has a better voice). Great acoustic guitar, too - love the solo. ****1/2
"Starla" - positively euphoric. A monumental eleven-minute song with tons of guitars - effects-laden, epic and otherworldly. Fantastic live - so I've heard as I haven't seen them, but I've got a great bootleg of this song that segues into a spacey "Never Let Me Down Again" by Depeche Mode. Most likely my fav SP song ever. *****+
"Blue" - a bad-ass bass line kicks off this steady rocker that also features some lovely, plaintive tangents. Dates back to their earliest days. *****
"Girl Named Sandoz" - A cover of an old one by the Animals, this is a cool rocker that's a little campy and slightly cheesy thanks mainly to the lyrics. I'm into it! ****
"La Dolly Vita" - smooth and dreamy rocker - "cool as ice cream" - this one has an almost hypnotic atmosphere, until it peaks with a potent climax. It's my favorite here, after "Starla" and "Plume." *****
"Spaced" - an experimental atmospheric piece with distorted, dub-heavy vocals. Sounds like it's sleepily drifting through the cosmos as Corgan's strange ruminations to his father hover in the background. Unusual and interesting track. ***1/2
Anyone who likes the Smashing Pumpkins will find a lot to like here - it's not just for completist fans by any means. I've listened to it for years since it came out and don't expect to ever stop. Although it understandably doesn't have the coherence of a typical "normal" album release, it's still very listenable. Actually, it's no less coherent than MELON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS now that I think about it. I'd say it's my second favorite Pumpkins record, after SIAMESE DREAM.
Great sounds make ears good
The Str | 09/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What surprises me most about Pisces Iscariot is the sheer eclecticism that it represents. These are songs that range from the barely-there acoustic opener Soothe to the all-out amps on 11 grind of Pissant. Corgan forces sounds out of his guitar that don't seem to all be coming from the same place.
The guitar on Plume sounds more like a truck revving its engine than any instrument I can think of, but the sound doesn't overcome the dry sarcasm of the line "Oh yeah, another day. Oh yeah, gotta play." There's a juxtaposition of the empowerment of being a rock star with the self-realization that life is boring.
Pisces Iscariot is a statement of what music the band felt had gone too far to fit on a conventional record; material that's too personal, too indulgent. There's a cover of Landslide on here. There's an epic monster. The booklet itself is made as if just thrown together at the last moment on rice paper.
It's an album of disparate songs, but they somehow fit together. You can hear cars going by in the background. It sounds like Chicago.
Ironically, it's in the b-side collection that I find music that I think best reflects what the pumpkins were about.