Review Summary: In true Pumpkins style, the impressing '93 album SIamese Dream was milked for all its worth in the time too come, in the form of multiple singles EP's, movie soundtracks, live performance compilations, b-said albums, and The Siamese Singles, a celebration
History (up until ’94)
When the late 80's Gothic and new wave scene saw itself reach a musical climax, the Pumpkins were already there, formed in '87 by super ambitious music machine Billy Corgan, in the city of Chicago. They started sounding like almost every other acid tripping, pendant wearing, depressed adult band at the time, but all along Corgan and his band mates James Iha, D'arcy Wretzky, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain wanted to created something different, unique and refreshing while at the same time being suitable to fit in with the other bands, just so they could rub it in their faces that they were so much better.
And in the years to come they achieved this, through the awesome suedo grunge outfit of '91's Gish, and the tender and beautiful-while guitar heavy and hard rocking tunes of '93's Siamese Dream. After these two releases the Pumpkins had officially made it, virtually fronting the new wave of "alternative rock" along with sidekicks Hole and Radiohead. And the point of alternative rock was ultimatley to recreate what Billy and the Bumpkin's wanted to do when they set out to do 5 years before-to created something different, unique and refreshing while at the same time being suitable to fit in with the other bands, just so they could rub it in their faces that they were so much better
The Subject Album
In True Pumpkins' style, the bands 1993 alternative rock success Siamese Dream was milked for all its worth in the year to come after it's release. From the insightful live compilation of the Pumpkins waxing legacy, Earphoria, to the B-side album that is just as good as any other, Pisces Iscariot, they milked and milked they’re music, and released- cataloguing the tunes that made '93 what it was in music-The Siamese Singles, a celebration of the bands impressive sophomore success of the anti cooperation blast of Cherub Rock, the pop tune with a dark twist-Today, the emotional ballard of Disarm, brandishing its bittersweet pop orchestra and tales of an unforgivable childhood of neglect and sadness for Billy, and finally the grunge pop showcase of Rocket, the track that showed ’94 that the Pumpkins were really the unseen revolution brewing in the real US music scene.
Fortunately, in The Siamese Singles, Billy and his now indie rockstar quartet reveal that there is still more left overs to feed us, thrown in with the now played-to-the-point-of-meaninglessness hits. In the true Pumpkins fashion, various different versions of singles were released for single tracks, with ranges of rarity and amount of B-sides contained, turning the issue of Billy’s ridiculous, but heart warming over production of material into a kind of collectors challenge (also speculated by some, as a ploy to make more money from the singles…well why not?) Sided with 93’s listen-to-this hit Cherub Rock is a contrasting, but cute and cuddly acoustic number by the name of Purr Snickety, where Corgan returns to singing with the same innocent and simplistic melodies expressed in Gish. What might be the band’s most intriguing single from ’93, Today, is partnered with the busty and slightly neurotic yet painfully sweet Apathy’s Last Kiss. And the name says it all. The lyrics are straightforward, seeming to really be about giving up the sense of Apathy entirely. Corgan sings in the first lines, “What’s the matter, what’s the difference? You’ll feel better here, you lie with the stars in your eyes…” Possibly one of the most perfect (I know, oxymoron…) lines ever written by this band. The song boasts a very touching quality of conveying Billy’s sensitivity into word and music. Is also reminiscent to the slightly ramshackle lullaby sound that Hole displayed at around the same time the song was written.
The next two, Disarm and Siamese Dream are an odd couple. While Disarm will forever be amazingly clear, heart strung, and definitive, Siamese Dream (the song, remember) is completely the opposite. It is a very obscure b-side of the Heart EP, released in late ‘93/early ’94, and is basically Billy sporting preachy and grungy lyrics about everything and anything in a rather Jane’s Addiction-esque way, backed by a droning bass and a harmonica. Rocket is almost upstaged, as such, by its own b-side Never Let Me Down, a very non Depeche Mode like cover of the original. The guitars shimmer, melancholy and mellow, Billy sings woefully-could his “best friend” be referring to a drug addiction of some kind? We don’t know, but the Pumpkins pull off an awesome version of the song, and it’s a great way to end the album.
Unfortunately, you’ll be hard pressed to find copies of this album, and they are only in vinyl press, so it is rather awkward, however if you do own one, it could be worth lots of money. I do, howver recommend it for the quality of the previously unreleased material on here, as practically everything the band released during this period was a gem in its own respects.
Thanks for lietening to Smashing Pumpkins.