Review by Jeff Becker from The Way That He Sings
The hidden gem of the Pumpkins official catalog. Lost in the dream-world trifecta of Gish, Siamese Dream and Mellon collie and the Infinite Sadness is Pisces Iscariot. So where does it stand among the real Pumpkins’ albums? Just a mix tape from Billy, or so much more?
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The overall release of Pisces Iscariot is scored a 8.5/10
CD1 – the original album
Blessed heavily with the sound that made Siamese Dream the sonic springboardit became, Pisces Iscariot fits snug on the shelves of all Pumpkins owners – somewhere close to their hearts for sentimental reasons as much as it is due to the quality of the songs. Driven entirely by the Gish/Siamese Dream timeframe, Corgan is correct in that it’s less an album and more a mixtape. That doesn’t exclude it from some dropdown Pumpkins’ classics such as the unimaginably perfect “Whir”, the bassy growl of “Blue” and the very classic Pumpkins sound in “Starla”. From a song quality eyeball it falls somewhere equal to Gish, but well behind the Pumpkins best trifecta of Siamese/Mellon Collie/Adore. It’s on the next shelf down from the best that Corgan ever put together – and that is ok, because that’s where it was meant to be.
The remastering does a fine job collecting all the sounds you may have think you missed from the original. The best tracks sound greater, bigger and the new additions here are brought up to the sonic standards of all the Pumpkins releases, allowing them to run together far more seamlessly. If this release had been marketed back in 1994 as a true “album” it would have stood the test of time, albeit a slight disappointment after following the monster-sized Siamese Dream. However, as a compilation it’s outstanding.
Mellon Collie turned everything upside down in Pumpkinland and Pisces Iscariot was that perfect appetizer. It’s that last piece of the early pre-arena Pumpkins for fans to embrace as Corgan became a far more eclectic songwriter as he hit full stride with both Mellon Collie and Adore.
Is this deluxe reissue package with the extra tracks, remastered original, DVD performance from 1988 and original demo cassette worth the price of admission? Yes, it’s on the borderline of a no-brainer especially given the sonic quality of CD2 and fine package for the box itself.
CD2 – unreleased material
- Bye June (Ignoffo Sessions/2012 Mix) – Must own. Near crystal-clear quality acoustic track sung by Corgan.
- My Dahlia (Ignoffo Sessions/2012 Mix) – Must own. Another very high quality spiraling tune without the Pumpkins sound anywhere to be found. Very much a precursor towards the B-sides that littered the Mellon Collie era.
- Jesus Loves His Babies (Gish Sessions Rough Mix) – Must own. Another very worthy addition with a very trademark Gish sound. Not Gish-album worthy, but optimal for this release.
- Cinnamon Girl (Ignoffo Sessions/2012 Mix) – Nice to have. A decent rendition of a decent Neil Young song. Once again, nowhere else would this be worthy of release than a reissue such as this. This is the Pumpkins trying to sound like Neil Young versus the Pumpkins trying to repossess the original. It’s not the landmark rendition we would hope for.
- Glynis (2012 Mix) – Must own. A hidden Pumpkins classic that would have fit perfectly on either of the first two albums.
- Crawl (Gish Sessions outtake) – Must own. Still yet another excellent sound quality unreleased track from the Gish days, running nearly 7 minutes long. An absolute winning streak unfolding here.
- Cinder Open (Eddy St. demo/2012 Mix) – Must own. Rather beautiful instrumental.
- Blissed (Sadlands demo/2012 Mix) – Must own. One more gem, of the many, from the Sadlands demos. Early vocal track apparent but these are why deluxe reissues add value to a catalog.
- Slunk (Live) (2012 – Remaster) – Nice to have only because of the obscurity of the song. The track itself, while sounding like true Pumpkins, has few endearing qualities compared to its peers.
- Jackie Blue – Must own. A much more worthwhile attempt at a remake than “Cinnamon Girl” provided. Classic Pumpkins sounds recapture this track near perfectly.
- Venus in Furs (Live) – Nice to have, but a rather rough mix of this live cut. A killer studio version would have looked ahead to the Adore-era sound.
- Translucent (Sadlands demo/2012 mix) – Must own. The best track on this disc.
- French Movie Theme (Siamese Sessions outtake) – Nice to have. Odd, but high quality track.
- Purr Snickety (Gish b-sides session outtake) – Must own. Great quality outtake from Gish.
- There It Goes (Demo/2012 Mix) – Must own. The 2012 mix provides this track with a full punch. Quite outstanding with the full, lighter and more pop-style Pumpkins sound taking charge. A very worthy candidate for the best piece of this collection.
- Vanilla (Ignoffo Sessions) – Must own. Finishing off a rather spectacular release of top quality studio outtakes.
- Why Am I So Tired (Live in studio demo) – Must own. A blazing layer of guitars to say good-bye. A suitable instrumental that is probably a rarity in that it’s a full band effort.
DVD – basement jam, 1988
The DVD’s centerpiece – a rather decent quality video from the Basement Jam in November of 1988 (taken from the Pulse Cable Access show in Chicago) is worth the price alone. Splattered along with a few random early live performances, it’s a great one-time document of the earliest in Pumpkins history, muchspring prom. Watching it more than once may not be necessary, but not many things in the world are.
1. Intro by Billy Corgan (DVD) 2. Pulse Cable Show Introduction by Lou Hinkhouse (DVD) 3. There It Goes (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 4. She (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 5. She (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 6. Under Your Spell (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 7. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 8. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 9. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 10. My Eternity (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 11. Bleed (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 12. Nothing and Everything (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 13. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 14. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 15. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 16. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 17. Jennifer Ever (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 18. Death of a Mind (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 19. Spiteface (Pulse Basement Jam – Chicago) (DVD) 20. Blue (DVD) 21. Offer Up (DVD) 22. The Joker (DVD) 23. Slunk (DVD) 24. Dancing In The Moonlight (DVD) 25. Snap (DVD) 26. Hello Kitty Kat (DVD)
Having sonic expectations at a low point here, this early cassette is actually far more delightful than you’d imagine. Rather sparkling sound quality for this reproduction of the original Pumpkins demos, released in a reproduction of its original packaging. An obvious prelude to Gish is found in nearly every track and it’s one of the more pleasant surprises of the reissue. In full light here are the early Corgan vocals – already becoming a signature and disavowing any signs of the 80’s hair glam rock going on at the time. A signature Pumpkins sound is clearly found on tracks like ‘East’ and this is a prized addition to this already stellar collection.
1. Jennifer Ever (Tape) 2. East (Tape) 3. Nothing And Everything (Tape) 4. Sun (Remix) (Tape) 5. She (Live) (Tape) 6. Spiteface (Tape)