on 9 April 2001
There's nothing quite like Billy Corgan! Here is a man with such song-writing talents that he is able to release 'frail and bedazzled' on a collection of b-sides. Nine times out of ten when a band releases a collection like this between albums the contents are embarrassing, but not in this case. If you aren't won over by the sheer elegant beauty of 'soothe' then, quite simply, the Smashing Pumpkins can never be the band for you. James Iha gets his chance on 'blew away' and, surprisingly, creates a song worthy of the great man himself and even adds something to the mix by singing it himself in his soft, hypnotic way. The only criticism would be as to why some these tear-inducing songs didn't find their way onto any of the pumpkin's five albums. Oh well, there's a perfectionist eccentric for you. A stormingly understated album.
on 2 December 2004
Pices Iscariot was first released in 1994, a year after their break through album Siamese Dream, and comprises of 14 songs that were recorded during the sessions for Siamese Dream as well as their first album Gish yet were never included in the final cut. In most cases, b side albums are often scrappy, disjointed and all round lacking coherence. However, Pices Iscariot is different. This is an amazing album and a rare instance where the majority of tracks sound nothing at all like b sides, the quality of the song writing is simply too strong. The album opens with a surprisingly sombre 'Soothe' recorded with just Billy and an acoustic guitar. 'Frail and Bedazzled' is straight up Siamese Dream rock, energetic and catchy. 'Plume' is another Siamese Dream outake, where fuzzy distorion takes the primal focus of the song, yet in complete contrast 'Whir' is a beautiful and touching acoustic song with Billy's trademark vocal performance, 'Blew Away' is another great song written and sung entirely by James, which is always great to hear as he is a very talented song writer which is often overlooked by many jaded fans. 'Pissant' is a rare live performance cut with its roaring guitars and amazing drumming from Jimmy, which is further demonstarted in the upbeat 'Hello Kitty Kat'. 'Obscured' is another gorgeous acoustic track, however it is the stunning Stevie Nicks cover of 'Landslide' that remains my favourite track on the album. The next track 'Starla' is an 11 minute epic with begins with a beautiful guitar riff which out of nowhere launches into full on distorion and dazzling solo work from Billy and James. 'Blue' is a Gish outake which includes one of my favourite bass lines from Darcy, simple yet effective. Next comes the albums second cover courtesey of 'A Girl Named Sandoz' by The Animals taken from the Gish sessions, a dirty and visceral performance. 'La Dolly Vita' is another great Siamese Dream outake, and the album closer 'Spaced' is a weird psychedelic aura or echoing spacy tones, a weird yet effective end to the album. I would definatly recommend Pices Iscariot to anyone who's just started getting into the Pumpkins, and also anyone who likes melodic rock music. Dont let the fact that this is a b side album fool you, this is a superb album and a fascinating insight into the dynamics of the Pumpkins early material.
on 19 May 2001
This is a collection of some of the most personal songs written by Billy Corgan. The album has a completely different mood to the earlier Siamese Dream, and Gish.
Most of the songs are early b-sides and out-takes. My favourite song is definitely the opening Soothe, a quiet and reflective song. The album progresses surprisingly well, there are several styles represented. Everything from full on pumpkin rock (starla), to glistening tearful music (Whir) can be found here.
I highly reccomend this album to any pumpkin/ or non-pumpkin fan, as it differs greatly from their other work. It opens up a completely different side to the Smashing Pumpkins, unknown to many.
on 2 November 2003
The pumpkins have always turned out quality records,but i always think you can tell how good a band is by the B-sides.
"soothe" is a slow acoustic masterpice,"frail & bedazzled" is a punky rocker with and awsome swirly riff,"whir" is probably the best track on the album annoyingly catchy acoustic riff.
About 12 of the songs on here are up with anything of other pumpkins records(and would be some bands best hits.It amazes me how people talk about Nirvana(who i love to)being the best alt-rock band of the 90s,for me the pumpkins are up with them,and this is just another shinning example why.
on 8 December 1999
Pisces Iscariot starts with the song 'soothe' it's such a beautiful song and truly reduces me to tears...there is something more in the song than there usually is in songs of this calibre. This album is good enough to have been a real album in it's own right instead of b-sides (i know what i mean.) With rocky songs like Frail and Bedazzled (a tribute to skunk) and Blue this album is for those who like to rock and also those who recognise the true beauty of Pumpkins Music. My favourites on this album are soothe, frail and bedazzled, obscured and the wonder of Le Dolly Vita. I really do love this album. It is worth buying even if you do not like the Pumpkins
on 14 July 2011
I think it was possibly John Peel who once said that the sign of a great band are 2 things: how they play live and how good their b-sides are. I unfortunately cannot vouch for the former but, with Pices Iscariot, I can wholeheartedly agree with the latter. This is a collection of b-sides and unreleases material that spanned their career at the time. The strange thing is that it all works so perfectly as a collection of tracks in its own right and also sounds completely different from any other SP release.
I would urge any fan or newcomer to the band to add this as an essential part of their back catalogue as it is that good. It all kicks off with one of the most mellow and beautiful songs ever, 'Soothe', which then is followed by more of a party tune in 'Frail & Bedazzled', both excellent pieces of music. 'Plume' is down-tuned genius and 'Whir' and 'Blew Away' are the sort of top-notch ballads that SP can just DO. 'Pissant' and 'Hello Kitty Kat' are ok but a bit on the throwaway side, more punky and raw with no real tune. 'Obscured' is another phenomenal soundscape that evokes dreams of flying and the Fleetwood Mac cover, 'Landslide' fits perfectly into the preceedings. It's also an awesome cover. The 4 tracks that follow are a bit hit and miss. 'Starla' is good but at 11 minutes plus it does ramble somewhat. 'Blue' is another ok track but doesn't inspire as much as the others. The Animals' cover feels slightly out of place. And 'La Dolly Vita' finish things off in true alternative style.
Not perfect but the majority of tracks are of such a high quality that it doesn't matter about the ones that don't work. Essential.
on 13 June 2001
Pisces Iscariot is an amazing compliation of rare demos from the early days, material omitted from previous albums, live recordings from the BBC and new material. We open with Soothe, a personal track written by a teenage Billy Corgan in a squalid apartment and dug up for this album, full of meaning and acoustic brilliance. Frail and Bedazzled follows which was also written in a garage/apartment and is a mellow, but powerful rock song, typical of the Pumpkins. Plume is up next and was written in the same said apartment, with the lyrics thought up by Billy whilst waiting at an airport. This track is slow and mellow but in time the guitar riffs begin to peel off nicely. Whir then kicks off the nice happy, melodic, passive feel that the album carries on with several other tracks like Blew Away (with James on vocals), Spaced, Obscured and La Dolly Vita, tracks which Billy himself describes as "Frail and gentle". Pissant adds aggressive, growling, hard rock to the album, much in the style of Zero and is followed nicely by Hello Kitty Kat, a track which Billy reluctantly ommitted from Siamese Dream, and this is a pounding, driving rock track with solos to die for and layer upon layer of sound. Billy covers Stevie Nick's Landslide in a live recording at the BBC with John Peel for Radio 1, and is a romantic, tender and beautifal acoustic masterpiece. Also at the BBC was recorded was A Girl Named Sandoz, like Plume it is a slow but powerful rock track with heavy but slow paced riffs, once the slightly trippy Spaced has finished the album you get an overall package of excellence that represents the Pumpkins from their teenage angst years to the Siamese Dream era, and is a diverse collection of music and an essential album for anyone's collection.
on 28 January 2000
This is my desert island disk. The sweetness and tranquility, the hardness and harnessed power. Unbelievable that this is b-sides and previously unreleased material, when in my opinion is their best work. Even if your not the biggest pumpkins fan (which I'm not, although siamese dream was pretty good) then this is one beautiful album.
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.
on 3 January 2003
It is very tempting to give this album 5 stars because I am such a huge admirer of The Smashing Pumpkins, but it is not what I would consider a 'true classic' that full marks would suggest (it is only a B-sides album afterall), but that means in no way it is a bad album. Many of the tracks are taken from the early days of the Smashing Pumpkins, songs that have been lost and then found, and some that were before now, very very rare.
The album sleeve is also a great piece of Pumpkins history because inside is a long passage written by Billy Corgan himself, describing how each song was recorded and how the ideas of each song came about, which is fascinating when listening to the album.
If this is the first Smashing pumpkins album you are thinking of buying, then I suggest to get their recent best hits album 'Rotten Apples' or the legendary 'Siamese Dream' or 'Melon Collie...' to get familiar with their more accesible songs, and then move on to this album along with other later albums such as 'Adore'.
This is a beautiful album to really listen to, it is definitely not background music if that is what you are thinking of buying it for. The songs range from loud to quiet, with intricate guitar work and pounding drums. If you are already a fan of the band then do not hesitate in buying this gem of an album, it is a collection of B-sides that easily betters many bands studio recordings.