We do not often write about compilation albums, but "Pisces Iscariot" by "The Smashing Pumpkins" released on October 4, 1994, makes us go out of our way.
This album was released between the 1993 "Siamese Dream" and the 1995 masterpiece "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness". As a "sandwich" collection between two masterpieces, one would think that this is an unnecessary album designed to extort more money from fans. This hypothesis is strengthened because this compilation was released after only two studio albums. But this is not the case! This is an excellent album that for us can be considered as any other studio album, non-less.
When this album came out we blindly purchased it without even knowing it was a compilation album and enjoyed every song and track from it. What a shock it was when we opened the booklet that came with the disc and found out in Billy Corgan's explanatory that it was a compilation album.
True, this album lacks a bit of the flow and coherence of the two exemplary studio albums, located before and after in the band's chronology, but it's definitely a good album that stands very well on its own, and which could certainly be considered a studio album, for all intents and purposes in the band's catalog.
The album features outtakes that were not included in the previous two albums, Demos and B-Sides, which the band recorded in only 3 years, from 1990 to 1993, an amazing figure in itself. Just to think that after only two studio albums, Billy Corgan and his friends managed to gather such a large amount of musical material and of such good quality, is an inconceivable thing in the world of music, and do not think that we have forgotten the immortal "Sci-Fi Lullabies" of "Suede" which was released after three studio albums, "Masterplan" of "Oasis" or even "Lost Dogs" of "Pearl Jam" which was released more than a decade after the debut album.
Similar to the band's first two studio albums, especially "Siamese Dream", this album also combines noisy guitar tracks, saturated with distortion and howling solos, and the acoustic and soft parts that bring out a lot of pure magic from Billy Corgan and friends. This combination can already be found in the two tracks that open the album, the melting and acoustic "Soothe", which is just hard to believe is a demo recorded at Billy Corgan's house, and the noisy "Frail and Bedazzled" which is an outtake from "Siamese Dream" but remind us of "Gish".
This soft-to-noise dynamic from the two opening tracks, continues all over with the heavy "Plume" which was the b-side of the excellent "I Am One" which opens Gish, as opposed to the caressing and melodic "Whir" which was also an outtake from "Siamese Dream".
This swing continues even with the quiet and magical "Blew Away" that was the b-side of the song "Disarm" and is the only one on the album written by guitarist James Iha, and on the other hand, we have the heavy "Pissant" that came out as a b-side of the song "Cherub Rock" from the previous album.
This roller coaster accompanies us throughout the album, with the two most notable excerpts that follow, being the incredible cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide", which we think even surpasses the original (and dear Stevie Knicks please forgive us for that), and the song "Starla" which comes right after it, a huge simple piece with psychedelic-progressive effects, which stretches over 11 minutes and proves how big and underappreciated Billy Corgan is.
The original release of the album had 14 tracks, while 2000 discs from the special edition included a bonus disc with two more tracks. The extended version that came out in 2011 already included 17 more rare tracks, which proves how prolific this band is and only adds to its aura for us.