13 Songs, 1 Hour, 2 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Their debut album, Gish, established Smashing Pumpkins as a viable alternative rock band with arena rock potential, but Siamese Dream broke the gameplan wide open. From their earliest days, the Pumpkins had been a cauldron of heated emotions and demanding visions. Leader Billy Corgan took on most instrumental duties in order to recreate the sounds in his head. And with producer Butch Vig ready to capture the big rock sound that many alternative groups were shying away from, Corgan and Vig went about layering the guitars until the wall couldn’t be penetrated. None of this would mean much if not for powerful songwriting; “Cherub Rock,” “Quiet,” “Today,” and “Geek U.S.A.” meshed the ‘90s-era underachiever vibe with the stadium sounds of classic rock bands.

Explicit Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Their debut album, Gish, established Smashing Pumpkins as a viable alternative rock band with arena rock potential, but Siamese Dream broke the gameplan wide open. From their earliest days, the Pumpkins had been a cauldron of heated emotions and demanding visions. Leader Billy Corgan took on most instrumental duties in order to recreate the sounds in his head. And with producer Butch Vig ready to capture the big rock sound that many alternative groups were shying away from, Corgan and Vig went about layering the guitars until the wall couldn’t be penetrated. None of this would mean much if not for powerful songwriting; “Cherub Rock,” “Quiet,” “Today,” and “Geek U.S.A.” meshed the ‘90s-era underachiever vibe with the stadium sounds of classic rock bands.

Explicit Mastered for iTunes
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Ratings and Reviews

4.7 out of 5

192 Ratings

192 Ratings

The Best

SmoochyJr

I played this album every morning while getting ready for school for two years straight. It is a treasure and I will always love it.

Love, love love!!

Mjaguilera

The first time I heard the Smashing Pumpkins was back in 90's when this cd first came out. The first song I ever heard was Cherub Rock. I was a young 20 yr working at a pizza place & the song played on the radio & rocked me to my core!! This is one The Best CDs ever!! All the songs kick booty & Smashing Pumpkins is still one of my all time faves EVER!! I love Billy Corgan & I love his voice! This is a must have for any Pumpkins fan!!

The best alt. rock album of all time?

Sean Wolahan

I've slowly began to discover why Nirvana has slowly dwindled on my favorite music lists. They were huge innovators of what I could consider my favorite genre, but they paved the way for better examples of what they created. One of those examples is Siamese Dream. I can't do this album the true justice it deserves, but I'm going to go for it anyways. I wouldn't hesitate to call this the best Alternative Rock album nor would I think twice about ranking it alongside Abbey Road or The Wall as one of the best albums. The only way I can really explain this is to take this one step at a time because that's a big title for a single record and I require a lot of proof in order to clarify my point. But, first let me say I practically never take the album's history, the band's history, the time in which the record came out, or what emotional impact it had on the world at the point of release when I begin to analyze an album, and I truly believe that's the best way to take any form of art.
Now that I got all the dirty laundry out of the way, it's time to get to the main event. I should definitely establish that this is the much more angst ridden than a lot of other works in the alternative rock genre and can be filed under "I Can't Believe It's Not Emo". It's not like that's a bad thing, but don't go in expecting Imagine Dragons or whatever.
The record begins with the rustling drum roll at the beginning of "Cherub Rock" that leads to the gentle guitar strums as the drums and bass fade in and surround the listener slowly with practically identical licks. Then, the glorious, scratchy guitar that'll accommodate the whole record comes crashing down from on top of you. Soon after, the drums break out in a beat that works perfectly in conjunction with the rest of the band, as you are immediately sucked in and traverse a spectrum of emotions, sounds, and the perfect portrayal of the struggle of teen-hood. This guitar sound practically makes the album. It's coated with the perfect amount of gain and distortion while still managing to produce a sound that's so clean. That in conjunction with one of the most consistent drums in rock history. Every time a single drum is hit, it's always the most perfect time and the best possible sound you can imagine. Giving the record the perfect emotional punch for every moment. After the quite powerful ending of "Cherub Rock", your can't even wait the 3 seconds in between songs to see what else the record provides. And boy does it deliver.
The building guitar and quick guitars alongside the always memorable chorus which seems to be the best patter out of the LP, "Quiet" is pretty much the perfect thing to follow up the opening song with. Then, to have the perfectly rounded, alternative rock masterpiece of "Today" follow it? This record is just relentless. And some of the solos in the record are just orgasmic, especially when they continue through the rest of the song as the vocals overlap it. It's just so grand for the classic garage band set up they're working with. After the next two songs, the record knows you need a break, especially after the blood pumping and intense build up ending for "Rocket" that left me dazed and needing to take a breather the first time I heard it. So, it promptly shows up with the both beautiful and grand "Disarm", which is laced with different strings and the sound of church bells making for an incredibly emotional look into the mind of a killer, sympathizing with what many view as a monster.
The album then slowly leads you back up with "Soma" which just slowly becomes angrier and angrier in one of the most seamless emotional transitions a song can make in six minutes, and the perfect transition for the whole album period. I just love it, hearing those solos again and now in a better light than ever and the back up vocals are so perfect, it's so great. Than comes "Geek USA" providing more of the angst ridden garage grunge that we love. Then it follows up with "Mayonnaise", which is one of the harder beautiful songs on the LP. Just hearing those guitar screeches in the moments of brief silence is so ffffffffreaking cool!
And, oh my god, "Spaceboy". Such a sensitive song with a beautiful acoustic opening and then to be hit with the string orchestra. Then as it slowly faded away, I was just left starstruck. I was on the verge of tears, and I've only cried twice at a studio album. After that, you get slapped with the sick jam session of a song called "Silverfuck" which is the perfect wall of noise that this record needed. After we cut to the quiet bass which felt like I had been speeding at 200 mph and straight into a wall, the album just transforms into a swaying, easy alt rock record for the next 4 minutes. Until the gas is slammed again and we crash the song to an exciting and insane ending of chaotic and twitchy sounds that could not be instruments as far as I know. After such a soul sucking song, it's only natural to bring the album to a gentle halt with both "Sweet Sweet" and "Luna", which lulls the album to a beautiful rest. There's really nothing quite like that last strum of "Luna" along the slowly fading violins.
I'm sorry, this review is mostly just me splurging all over this album rather than an actual critique. But, I can't help it. This is like my favorite album and surprisingly the only record I really enjoy by Smashing Pumpkins, but we'll get into that later. I don't know what else I can say to make you listen to this. It's flawless! It's perfect! The guitar sounds great, the drums keep the rhythm perfectly, the bass does it's job as well as it can, the vocals are surprisingly fitting despite how he may sound according to textbook vocals, the back-up vocals show up when they need to and sound so good when they do show up, the orchestra sounds beautiful in conjunction to the acoustic guitar. Just buy it, man, come on.

About Smashing Pumpkins

Of all the major alternative rock bands of the early '90s, the Smashing Pumpkins were the group least influenced by traditional underground rock. Lead guitarist/songwriter Billy Corgan fashioned an amalgam of progressive rock, heavy metal, goth rock, psychedelia, and dream pop, creating a layered, powerful sound driven by swirling, distorted guitars. Corgan was wise enough to exploit his angst-ridden lyrics, yet he never shied away from rock star posturing, even if he did cloak it in allegedly ironic gestures. In fact, the Smashing Pumpkins became the model for alternative rock success. Pearl Jam shunned it and Nirvana was too destructive. The Pumpkins, on the other hand, knew how to play the game, signing to a major-subsidized indie for underground credibility and moving to the major in time to make the group a multi-platinum act. And when the Pumpkins did achieve mass success with 1993's Siamese Dream, they went a long way to legitimize heavy metal and orchestrated prog rock, helping move alternative rock even closer to '70s AOR, especially in the eyes of radio programmers and mainstream audiences. Unlike many of their contemporaries, they were able to withstand many internal problems and keep selling records, emerging as the longest-lasting and most successful alternative band of the early '90s.

The son of a jazz guitarist, Billy Corgan grew up in a Chicago suburb, leaving home at the age of 19 to move to Florida with his fledgling goth metal band, the Marked. After the band failed down South, he returned to Chicago around 1988, where he began working at a used-record store. At the shop he met James Iha (guitar), a graphic arts student at Loyola University, and the two began collaborating, performing, and recording songs with a drum machine. Corgan met D'Arcy Wretzky at a club show; after arguing about the merits of the Dan Reed Network, the two became friends and she joined the group as a bassist. Soon, the bandmembers, who named themselves the Smashing Pumpkins, had gained a dedicated local following, which included the head of a local club who booked them to open for Jane's Addiction. Before the pivotal concert, the band hired Jimmy Chamberlin, a former jazz musician, as their full-time drummer.

In 1990, the Smashing Pumpkins released their debut single, "I Am One," on the local Chicago label Limited Potential. The single quickly sold out, and in December the band released "Tristessa" on Sub Pop. By this point, the Smashing Pumpkins had become the subject of a hot bidding war, and the group latched on to a clever way to move to a major label without losing indie credibility. They signed to Virgin Records, yet it was decided that the group's debut would be released on the Virgin subsidiary Caroline, and then the band would move to the majors. The strategy worked; Gish, a majestic mix of Black Sabbath and dream pop produced by Butch Vig, became a huge college and modern rock hit upon its spring 1991 release. While it earned a large audience, many indie rock fans began to snipe at the Smashing Pumpkins, accusing them of being careerists. Such criticism did the Pumpkins no harm and they embarked on an extensive supporting tour for Gish, which lasted over a year and included opening slots for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam. During the Gish tour, tensions between bandmembers began to escalate, as Iha and D'Arcy, who had been lovers, went through a messy breakup, Chamberlin became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and Corgan entered a heavy depression. These tensions hadn't been resolved by the time the group entered the studio with Vig to record its second album.

Toward the beginning of the sessions, the Pumpkins were given significant exposure through the inclusion of "Drown" on the Singles soundtrack in the summer of 1992. As the sessions progressed, Corgan relieved himself of his depression by working heavily -- not only did he write a surplus of songs, he played nearly all of the guitars and bass on each recording, which meant that its release was delayed several times. The resulting album, Siamese Dream, was an immaculate production owing much to Queen, yet it was embraced by critics upon its July 1993 release. Siamese Dream became a blockbuster, debuting at number ten on the charts and establishing the Smashing Pumpkins as stars. "Cherub Rock," the first single, was a modern rock hit, yet it was "Today" and the acoustic "Disarm" that sent the album into the stratosphere, as well as the group's relentless touring. The Smashing Pumpkins became the headliners of Lollapalooza 1994, and following the tour's completion, the band went back into the studio to record a new album that Corgan had already claimed would be a double-disc set. To tide fans over until then, the Pumpkins released the B-sides and rarities album Pisces Iscariot in October 1994.

Working with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, the Smashing Pumpkins recorded as a full band for their third album, which turned out to be, as Corgan predicted, a double-disc set called Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Although many observers were skeptical about whether a double-disc set, especially one so ridiculously named, would be a commercial success, Mellon Collie became an even bigger hit than Siamese Dream, debuting at number one on the charts. On the strength of the singles "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," "1979," "Zero," and "Tonight, Tonight," it sold over four million copies in the U.S., eventually being certified platinum over eight times (each disc in the set counted separately toward certification). The Pumpkins had graduated to stadium shows for the Mellon Collie tour, and the band was at the peak of its popularity when things began to go wrong again. On July 12, prior to two shows at Madison Square Garden, the group's touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, died from a heroin overdose; he was with Jimmy Chamberlin, who survived his overdose. In the wake of the tragedy, the remaining Pumpkins fired Chamberlin and spent two months on hiatus as they recovered and searched for a new drummer. Early in August, they announced that Filter member Matt Walker would be their touring drummer and Dennis Flemion, a member of the Frogs, would be their touring keyboardist for the remainder of the year. They returned to the stage at the end of August and spent the next five months on tour. During this time, Corgan contributed some music to Ron Howard's Ransom.

Early in 1997, once the Pumpkins left the road, Iha and D'Arcy launched Scratchie Records, a subsidiary of Mercury. In the spring, the Smashing Pumpkins recorded two songs for the soundtrack of Batman & Robin. Iha's solo debut, Let It Come Down, appeared in early 1998; Adore, the new Smashing Pumpkins LP, followed a few months later to disappointing sales and reviews. Chamberlin returned to the group and D'Arcy exited prior to the early-2000 release of MACHINA: The Machines of God. Several months later, Corgan announced his intentions to dissolve the band before the year was out. With former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur replacing D'Arcy, the band launched its farewell tour in 2000. Fans received one last treat when Corgan and company worked feverishly to finish off tracks that were left over from the MACHINA sessions. Surprisingly, Virgin Records balked at the idea of releasing the 25-track set so close to the release of their previous album, so the band put the entire album (going by the official title of Machina II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music) on the Internet for fans to download for free. On December 2 of the same year, the Pumpkins played a mammoth final show at Chicago's Metro (also the venue at which the group played its first show back in 1988) before officially calling it quits.

But the former members of the band didn't wait long before carrying on with other projects -- Corgan spent the summer of 2001 playing guitar with New Order on select concert dates, and later in the year unveiled his new band, Zwan, including Chamberlin on drums (as well as former Chavez guitarist Matt Sweeney and bassist David "Skullfisher" Pajo). The other two former Pumpkins, Iha and Auf der Maur, began putting together an alt-rock supergroup dubbed the Virgins. The same year, a pair of postmortem Pumpkins collections were issued for the holiday season -- a double-disc collection and a DVD both called Greatest Hits. Corgan released his first solo album, The Future Embrace, in 2005, and on the day it came out, he took out a full-page ad in The Chicago Tribune to announce that the Smashing Pumpkins were reuniting. He hadn't informed any of his past bandmates, and only Chamberlin went along. Zeitgeist, a heavier album than any past Pumpkins album, was released in 2007.

The group promoted the album heavily well into 2008, but at the end of the year, Corgan announced that the group would no longer record albums, and would instead only issue singles. It wasn't the only change in the band. Corgan announced the departure of Chamberlin in March 2009, making him the last remaining original member of the band that by then consisted of guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Nicole Fiorentino, and drummer Mike Byrne. Once the dust settled, Corgan followed through on his promise to issue only short-form releases, putting out the track "A Song for a Son" in December of 2009. Scattered songs from the band's Teargarden by Kaleidyscope concept were released over the next two years as free downloads, with physical collections of the tracks released in 2010 by way of the EP box sets Songs for a Sailor and The Solstice Bare. In 2012, Corgan decided to take a break from the single-centric concept and released Oceania. Ostensibly the Smashing Pumpkins' eighth studio album, Oceania was also designated part of a 44-track concept titled Teargarden. In 2014, Corgan announced that he would be releasing two albums the following year under a new deal with BMG, which would tie up the Teargarden concept; these would be titled Monuments to an Elegy and Day for Night. By this point, Fiorentino and Byrne had left the band, and drums on Monuments to an Elegy were played by Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe. Monuments was released on December 9, 2014 and debuted in the Top 40 of the Billboard 200. Chamberlin returned to the band for a 2015 tour, although the promised Day for Night failed to materialize on schedule. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato

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