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This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the greatest bands of the 90s, a mixture of dreamy pop and stark grungey metal, set against Billy Corgan's poem-like songwriting. And "The Smashing Pumpkins - Greatest Hits" almost lives up to its name -- there are one or two songs that don't quite fit here, but most of them are indeed the "Greatest" that the band produced.
The songs are pretty much arranged in chronological order, starting off with the hard-rocker "Siva" and heading off into the mixture of hard rock/metal, and eerie dreampop, climaxing with the rich offerings from "Mellon Collie And the Infinite Sadness." With the songs of "Adore," there's an obvious shift in tone, becoming a bit more gothic and less rockish, only to swing back in the slow-burning songs from "Machina," their swan song.
Long after disbanding, the Smashing Pumpkins are still a towering presence in rock -- they debuted in the era of Nirvana, but with a very different kind of music. Their creative use of basic instruments and Billy Corgan's rich songwriting made them much more complex and deeper than almost all rock bands of the time. And "Greatest Hits" follows them through the band's entire lifetime -- from their surprisingly polished debut to the panoramic "Mellon Collie" to their gothic art-rock.
The songs included on "Greatest Hits" are not just the most commercially known, but also several of the best -- "Ava Adore," "Siva," "1979" and "Tonight Tonight." An additional track is stuck on, "Real Love," but somehow it just isn't up to the standards of the other songs. It's nice, but not up to the level of the "Greatest" Smashing Pumpkins songs.
Corgan was without a doubt the creative center of the Pumpkins -- he wrote the songs, filling them with doubts, anger and anguish, and also provided some mind-blowing guitar riffs and his vocals. His high, reedy voice is woven well into the music, giving his poetic lyrics an unusually heartfelt quality. He's singing about love, death, bombs, loneliness in a metaphorical wasteland.
The guitar and bass provide sizzling soundscapes and dense walls of sound, while the percussion is complex and lightning-fast. At the same time, we get the sweeping dreampop -- like the haunting "Rhinoceros" -- and gentler songs, where Corgan slows his guitar down to a gentle acoustic strum. That versatility is one of the things that made the Pumpkins so outstanding.
Rock doesn't get much more original than the Smashing Pumpkins, and several of their greatest hits -- both among fans and critics -- are compiled in "The Smashing Pumpkins - Greatest Hits."