The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)
I read a nice post at lyriquediscorde’s site this week, Smashing Pumpkins: My Top 10.
There was some overlap with our personal favourites and it got me thinking about my own up & down listening relationship with the band.
Whereas her reasons for listening/not listening to the Pumpkins were more personal, mine had more to do with its personnel.
In the captioned interview, David Spade was of course speaking about an artist who refers to himself in the abbreviated 3rd person. Now I don’t think Billy Corgan tends to publicly call himself ‘Ly but I don’t think many would accuse him of having a deflated sense of self-importance either.
As a result, I’ve struggled separating the singer from the songs when listening to the Smashing Pumpkins. Fortunately, plenty of time has passed since I’ve heard him interviewed (and I’ve intentionally avoided reading any quotes this week) so I was able to fully enjoy them again.
The Pumpkins are best suited to the studio.
Corgan’s one of those singers that walks the irritating/effective vocal line and the scale tips the wrong way in the live recordings I’ve seen. With the studio recording, there’s also the benefit of layering guitars and some of these tracks sound like they have dozens of ’em!
Though for all his grand ambition, the best moments on Siamese Dream are often the simplest or the quietest.
There’s the outro to Hummer, where the song changes gears & the distortion disappears for a bit. The guitars stay clean on the intro to Mayonnaise, a song that would likely land on top of my Top 10 Smashing Pumpkins list.
Has there been a more effective or easy guitar intro than Today? If you were learning to play guitar in the 90s, this high-pitched hook was a staple in the repertoire.
Disarm‘s recurring 3-note (G-F#-E) walkdown was equally effortless & excellent. And for name-that-tune/impressing-friends-despite-limited-skill-purposes, easily identifiable too!
The lyrics on Siamese Dream weren’t always as easy to decipher. That being said, I have fond memories from the Pre-Google Era (nearly as archaic as Precambrian?) of trying to figure them out, repeatedly rewinding tapes to scribble down the lyrics.
I’m surprised my cassette wasn’t noticeably worn at this point in the album; thanks to its novice-friendly guitar chords (no barring needed), Disarm was among those tunes. Due to the imprecise nature of cassette rewinding and my lack of speed as a scribe, I have also heard the Rocket outro countless times!
It was good to be back, I’d certainly recommend a Siamese Dream revisit.
Although for maximum enjoyment, make sure the only time you hear Billy Corgan’s voice is on the studio album.