By the early 90’s the musical landscape had changed, the machismo dripping hair metal of the 80’s were a distant memory, ‘grunge’ had exploded, in 91 Nirvana released ‘Nevermind’ and the record companies were drooling for the next big thing. Siamese Dream was the second album for Smashing Pumpkins and Virgin Records expected a monster seller, the problem was the Pumpkins were a band in turmoil.
Singer Billy Corgan had writers block and was stuck in a deep depression, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was addicted to heroin and bassist D’arcy and guitarist James Iha had just broken up.
Producer Butch Vig who also worked on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ was bought in and the recording sessions became maniacal obsessions for Corgan, a 45 second section of music would take 2 days to record, things spiraled out of control and Corgan suffered a nervous breakdown, to make matters worse the record company would visit the studio which only added to the pressure.
Years later Corgan would admit “I began fantasizing about my own death, what my funeral would look like, what music would be played”, eventually the album was completed $250,000 over budget, regardless it became one of the best albums of the 90’s, entering the Billboard top 100 at number 10 upon its release in July 1993.
All the turmoil and drama produced a classic with ‘Disarm’ and ‘Today’ two of the most memorable songs ever recorded by the Chicago based band.
You could say Smashing Pumpkins had their own sound, some may have tried to lump them in with ‘grunge’ but I always thought they never really fitted, they were the weird kid your Mum told you to invite to the party that never talked to anyone.
Consider in 1993 some of the other albums released that year, Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’, Pearl Jam’s ‘Vs’, Tool’s ‘Undertow’, U2’s ‘Zooropa’, The Breeders ‘Last Splash’, it was an incredible year for music.
I picked up this album somewhere around 1994; I’d already had ‘Gish’ their first album after an old friend Hope Llewellyn who lived in Chicago introduced me to the band. ‘Gish’ is raw which of course I liked, but ‘Siamese Dream’ goes deeper, there are more ‘hooks’ and Corgan sits on the melody as good as anybody.
This ended up being a productive period for the band, they released ‘Pisces Iscariot’ a year later and the double ablum ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ a year after that in 1995.
It’s debatable whether this is the Smashing Pumpkins best album but it’s probably their most important, it confirmed their status as one of ‘the’ bands of the 90’s, an era that was overloaded with great music.
hallymustang rating : 4.5/5