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[Off The Record]
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The Smashing Pumpkins
(ROTTEN APPLES) THE SMASHING PUMPKINS GREATEST HITS
(VIRGIN)

Even compromised by a second CD of B-side and rarities, some of which (like the aimless "Marquis in Spades") have already been released, this is a marvelous set. At their best, which is on essentially all of disc one, the Pumpkins built sky-scratching cathedrals of sound that rest on a foundation of leader Billy Corganís expressive blend of guitar pyrotechnics, clever orchestrations, and pure noise. "Disarm," "Tonight, Tonight," "Cherub Rock," and "Siva" are all pages from the alternative-rock prayer book on which the Pumpkins create melodies out of feedback and Corganís inimitable nasal whine, an ugly voice as capable of growing on a listener as Dylanís rasp.

If only Corgan possessed more of a gift for lyrics. Gems like "Today" and "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" are offset by the clumsy ranting of "Lucky 13" and the ambiguous bile in "Set the Ray to Jerry." But time and again the music saves things before Corganís bitterness becomes overwhelming ó whether itís chimes and tribal drumming leavening the love-hate tug of war in the "Set the Ray to Jerry" or the expansive psychedelic guitar acrobatics of the bandís explosive cover of David Essexís "Rock On."

BY TED DROZDOWSKI

Issue Date: December 20 - 27, 2001

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