Thanks for the nice comments everyone, I'm glad you find it useful So I decided to follow the band's timeline this week, so next one is list is no other than...
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Despite not being much of a commercial success, Smashing Pumpkins' first album (Gish) had put the band into the eyes of thousands of fans and music critics. Obviously there was much potential inside the band, and this came with a resposability that over the albums laid more and more into the songwritting and composing skills of frontman Billy Corgan.
So I bet Billy and the rest thought of this like a once in a lifetime chance of either shining brightly as an important part of the 90s rock scene or falling into disgrace in the hands of voracious critics and having the back from the big public. In 1991 they had to let other albums get the focus (Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten, RHCP's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Metallica's Black Album, U2's Achtung Baby and R.E.M.'s Out Of Time among others), and now their time had come. So between late 1992 and early 1993 the recorded Siamese Dream. The recording of the album itself was a little hell, feeling the pressure of having to "catch the wave" that such big altrock albums had put in motion years back. As Billy Corgan stated, he didn't want to go back to work at the music store, they all wanted big.
I think this was the first SP album I get to listen, and I did it quite a few after the release, since I was 4 or 5 by the time it was released. Over the years it remained one of my favorite rock albums of the 90s, mainly for two reasons: I liked some songs pretty much; and I felt like it was a sincere album. Every song had something to add, something to say. Even those I didn't like that much I couldn't say there were songs added just to fill the album up.
So last night I put the record on (also a gift from my gf, reissued version with extra material), and used the headphones this time so nobody would be upset. Get set. Ready. Go!
And just like happened with Gish, the first song already got me into liking the album. Cherub Rock opens the album and tears down the walls, this time with a recognizable and catchy guitar riffs carrying the song right from the beginning. Talking about what, the intro riff is actually from a Rush song, "By-Tor & The Snow Dog", here's the video if you want to check it out (min 3:53 for the Rush video):
The second song, in Corgan's words, was a risky choose. Quiet, for me, fits well overall but doesn't keep the level set by Cherub Rock, as other following songs will. At this point, I miss the clear and nasty bass sound from the first album. At some points of the songs there are 3 guitars sounding simultaneously, not leaving a clue of what the bass player was doing there. Not my favorite song when I have to play one, but inside the album sounds good. At least keeps the distorted sound you'll associate with the Pumpkins sound everywhere.
And here's Today, the more 90s pop oriented song of the band so far. "A chirpy song about my near-suicide that all the kids can sing along", stated B. Corgan. I read somewhere it was the perfect rock-pop fusion. I wouldn't go that far, but it would be an easy choose for introducing the band to someone who likes simple and catchy chorus and a rocky melody. Back in the day was one of my favorites, now it is down in the list of songs from this album.
After 10-15 minutes, finally we hear the bass line! It's Hummer, a really different song, both for its melodic break, good sounding (not outstading) guitar solo and it's almost 7 minutes long. One of those songs that won't be in many people's mind forever, but something I really got into anytime I listen to it, right from the beginning: "Faith lies in
The ways of sin", interesting way of starting out.
And here comes what, for me, makes this album a great, that would be remember as top two of the SP's works. The next 5 songs, each in its style, could carry the album weight almost by themselves. Specially remarkable is the first one, 5th song on the album: Rocket. The riff is killing, the lyrics are not fine arts but work well and all the feeling into it is just great. I really like the video for the song also, interesting way of ending the story turning the song into an space-time matter "We are going places fast! And we can't get there fast enough."
For disarm, I must say I feel this song is really pure. Also overrated in my opinion. Not that it isn't beautiful, but maybe get to itself too much of the album attention, leaving some hidden gems not fully explored. It was maybe the 1st song I learnt to play and sing at the same time, so always brings back good memories.
In the middle of this 5 pieces suite of pleasure appears Soma. Directly taken from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World as you may notice. A song about loneliness at the end of it if you ask me. Using a different aproach, it reaches the same line of thought that follows this old Georges Moustaki song called Ma Solitude, when it comes down to it you can always count on you.
Didn't want to lose you once again
Didn't want to be your friend
Fulfilled a promise made of tin
And crawled back to you
Right at those lines the music explodes, charged with rage. That rage you feel sometimes, wanting to yell "I'm all by myself, as I've always felt".
8 is a powerful number, symbol of eternity, reminder of Moëbius... Geek U.S.A. gets exactly that powerful sense to it. It's there exactly for that. No matter the meaning of the lyrics, nevermind the melody. Is there to carry the second half of the album, as the band later stated. A song with a really outstanding drum performance right from the beginning of the song, you don't usually listen to that level of drumming in regular altrock recordings. Maybe it's the shoegazing, maybe their Rush influence. Who knows. Quick fact: the song was 2 and a half minutes longer, had to be cut down to fit the record company requirements.
You know that time when you're around 14-15 and think life's so sh!tty and just don't feel how would you express all the feelings inside. If I could have put them into a song would just actually sound like Mayonaise. If I'm completely honest, the very first time I listened to the song I felt a little déjà vu. Like that song had been always around there somehow. I know it sounds silly but I feel very comfortable listening to this one, is one of my shelter songs. Before I said I felt Disarm was a little overrated. Well, if I had to give its spot as touching song of the album I'd put there Mayonaise in a sec.
Spaceboy is out of my "5 pieces suite" because it's a different story. I don't like the way the melody evolves into the chorus, but you can tell by the singing this song is something else. Talks about Billy Corgan's half brother, born with several genetic problems, to which medical response was "he will be a burden upon you", "he will get nowhere". If you want to read a little more about this, go here:
He's My Brother
Spaceboy actually ends with several seconds of people talking, abruptly interrupted by SilverfLuck. This song is a big bomb inside the album. It's just anger inside a long music jam. Expressed better by the own writter:
To leave the previous song isolated between two slowly driven songs, here comes Sweet Sweet, like a little sweet actually. Simple and tasty, because we find ourselves many times not actually knowing where do our life is leading us to, and we just follow the river, refusing to think anything but that we are trying to swim against the current.
Managers warn that this song alone is costing us t-shirt sales. I end the song by breaking every string off with my bare hands. We are all f***ed. It doesn't matter what t-shirt you are wearing when you figure that out
Ending the album is Luna, spanish name for the Moon. It is a moonsong, because all those love songs made for someone who doesn't love you back... are songs you can't sing to those people you'd like to, and instead is a love-hate song to the only one there, out the window, once the night has come.
Most of the quotes are taken from a writting by SP's singer Billy Corgan made to appear on the reissued version of the album.
This whole album leaves behind that psychedelic feeling from their first effort (sadly), but shows clearly some interesting influences, as pointed out before with Rush's riff. The best is the shoegazing feel around some songs. Made me remember, on another level, of My Bloody Valentine's You Made Me Realize. It's also interesting what I noted to be a reciprocal influence: I can see Gish influenced somehow by Mazzy Star's first album "She Hangs Brightly", and then I kinda felt they were influenced by SPs first two albums. Maybe it's just me but I find it interesting.
Note: This post is literally too long, I'll finish in the next one since the system won't let me. I really need to sum up a little more the info I want to express [...]