Experiencing a 'Siamese Dream'
The second album released by renowned alternative act, the Smashing Pumpkins, proved to be the torpedo which launched them into commercial success and garnered the band international recognition. Formed in Chicago by guitarists James Iha and Billy Corgan, the band was complete when they were later joined by bassist Darcy (D’Arcy) Wretzky and jazz drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.
Their first album, Gish (released in 1991), proved relatively successful in the local scene, but had yet to propel the band into the speakers of listeners around the world. It’s follow up, released in 1993, boasted distorted and layered guitars (Soma is said to have over forty guitar tracks on its own), and a grander sound than its predecessor.
The recording of Siamese Dream was anything but smooth sailing. Frontman and chief lyricist Billy Corgan threw himself into working on the album in an attempt to combat his deep depression (he penned the song Today while suicidal), and it’s been rumored that he taped over both Iha and Wretzky’s guitar and bass parts when he realized it’d be more time efficient.
Recording was undertaken with producer Butch Vig at Triclops Sound Studios in Atlanta, which was partly to isolate Chamberlin from friends who could provide the drummer with drugs (Chamberlin would later leave the band during the Adore era in order to seek help for his heroin addiction, following an overdose and the heroin-related death of the band’s touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin). Tensions were also made worse by the breakup of Iha and Wretkzy, who’d previously been in a relationship. Corgan declared that if the album wasn’t a hit, it would be the end of the Smashing Pumpkins. Luckily for the band and pumpkin-heads worldwide, the opposite proved to be true.
The lyrics range in themes from Corgan’s troubled childhood (Disarm) and break-ups (Soma) to attacks on commercialism (Cherub Rock) and a dedication to Corgan’s brother (Spaceboy). With heartfelt lyrics such as I’m all by myself/as I’ve always felt and Disarm you with a smile/and leave you like they left me here/to wither in denial/the bitterness of one who’s left alone and roaring guitar solos (take Cherub Rock for instance), Siamese Dream is an epic adventure.
Corgan’s voice may not be the conventional sexy growl or as “nice” sounding as other male vocalists, but it holds a certain recognizable uniqueness to it; light and shade, allowing the frontman to be whisper quiet one moment and to come out with all guns blazing, the next. One thing which can be certain; the man sings with passion.
Personal problems aside, the Pumpkins proved they were destined for a withstanding career. Their 1995 double-disc Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness went six times platinum and, although they hit a slight bump with Adore and a decline in sales, they returned to their rocking roots with Machina: The Machines of God. Their second full length effort, Siamese Dream proves why the band were deserving of such recognition and why Billy Corgan is one of the most talented rock guitarists of this generation.
May 20th, 2013 at 06:24am
May 15th, 2013 at 03:59pm
April 30th, 2013 at 02:09pm
April 28th, 2013 at 12:24am
April 27th, 2013 at 10:44pm