Smashing Pumpkins Classic Rock Covers, Uncovered

Nineties alternative rockers The Smashing Pumpkins have been reissuing their early albums over the past year, and they’re about to release an expanded version of their 1994 rarities collection, Pisces Iscariot.  The original version featured an acoustic over of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” which was a #3 hit for the Pumpkins on the modern rock charts. However, the new, expanded Pisces reveals that even during the punk-obsessed ’90s, frontman Billy Corgan had a pretty big jones for the classic rock and pop of the ’60s and ’70s.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s “Cinnamon Girl,” from 1969’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, wasn’t a surprising pick: Young was cited as an influence by many of the Pumpkins’ peers at the time: both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden opened for Young, with Pearl Jam covering “Rockin’ In The Free World” in their concerts.
The Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs” from the 1967 album The Velvet Underground & Nico was a bit more surprising.  While The Velvets were a touchstone for almost all alt-rock bands of the ‘90s, the song’s themes of sadomasochism and bondage were far away from the Pumpkins’ usual lyrical fare of teen angst.
The Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” the title track from their 1973 album, and a #1 hit, was a more unusual choice.     Another big ‘70s hit included on Pisces Iscariot is Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ “Jackie Blue,” a #3 hit from their 1974 album It’ll Shine When It Shines.  A lesser-known ‘70s song covered on the album is Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing In The Moonlight (It’s Caught Me In It’s Spotlight)” from their 1977 album Bad Reputation.
Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan is a long-time classic rock fan: In 1994, he presented Tom Petty with the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards. In 1996, he inducted Pink Floyd into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and later that year, interviewed Ed Van Halen for a Guitar World cover story. And in 1997, he co-produced much of Cars leader Ric Ocasek’s solo album Troublizing. He has also guested on albums by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Ray Davies of The Kinks.

Brian Ives, CBS Local


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