The Throwback: 1993, The Year Of The Siamese Dream
Oh look it’s 1993 again. How many great damn albums came out that year? I mean sure WWF Raw premiered and Star Fox (or Starwing) was released but we got albums from Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Blur, Anthrax, The Breeders and of course Nirvana and the band that Kurt Cobain rolled with way back when, The Melvins. Rock/Metal/Altern music thrived in the 90’s with the alternative wave and collaborations across a lot of different genres but one of the defining sounds of the era came from the nasally intense voice of a shaggy haired soon to be bald kid who looked anything like that other aforementioned superstar. Their second LP struck gold and catapulted them to the limelight and legend status years after.
Siamese Dream has angsty bangers for days. From the classic cut “Today”; one of the most memorable altern rock hits of it’s time to the sweeping orchestral “Disarm” which could either be a lighters in the air ballad or nails down a chalkboard depending on your appreciation of Billy Corgan’s vocal talents and his general presence as a front man. It doesn’t help with Corgan’s documented control freak recording practice; his precision work is the driving force for Siamese Dream. Which is incredible considering the conditions the band were tearing themselves apart.
Billy was teetering on the edge of a breakdown and suffering writer’s block, weight gain and suicidal thoughts. The band itself had drummer Jimmy Chamberlain strung out on heroin: bass player D’Arcy Wretzky had broken up with her boyfriend and fellow band mate, second guitarist James Iha. it’s amazing the band pulled together an album that sounds amazing but captured the hearts of listeners for decades. Sometimes turmoil really pays off.
If you’re one of the many people sleeping on the majesty of the guitar work from The Smashing Pumpkins 90s catalogue, we hope you enjoy the nap because listening to songs like ‘Rocket’, ‘Quiet’ and ‘Hummer’ will wake you up pretty damn quickly. The whole LP is filled with soaring tracks; the kind that personify that crowd surfing, head in the clouds mindset. Remember the mindless shuffling from those festival goers in that classic Simpsons episode with the Pumpkins and Cypress Hill? Chuck some headphones on as you trance out to Siamese Dream. it’s goddamn beautiful as well.
The true anthem on Siamese Dream however comes in the form of ‘Mayonaise’. Somehow one song simultaneously could soundtrack a road trip, a break-up and a school formal all at once. When the rose tinted glasses come out for the 90s; it’s songs like ‘Mayonaise’, ‘1979’ and ‘Today’ that spark all of the feels for mobs of Pumpkin fans. The bloated but brilliant follow-up ‘Mellon Collie’ may have more classics and a broader approach, but this album is the perfect Pumpkins album. Crazy guitar riffs? Emotional lyrics? Drugs and depression? An epic approach to studio perfection including layering guitar riff over riff dozens of times? Billy Corgan essentially ignoring his other band members and smashing out this album over four hair-raising months in the middle of the worst time of their collective lives? Siamese Dream is like the 1990s’ ‘Let It Bleed’ minus the superhuman drug taking abilities of Keith Richards. Revisit or give it a listen and you might even be won over.