Quentin Mitchell, Olytimes writer

Album: Siamese Dream

Artist: Smashing Pumpkins

Genre: Alternative 

Time:63 min


By 1992 The Smashing Pumpkins (especially lead singer and songwriter, Billy Corgan) were under more pressure than ever. In 1991 they released their debut album, “Gish”, which sold amazingly. So amazing in fact, that it became the best-selling independent album of all time until The Offspring released “Smash”  in 1994. Piling on top of this, in 1991 alternative music had exploded shortly after Gish with the release of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten” being released shortly after. Due to this and many more issues (such as a breakoff with a girlfriend, and later wife, Chris Fabian), Billy Corgan began entering a very poor mental state (later inspiring the hit “Today”)


As the Pumpkins hit the studio, more problems arose. Billy Corgan had developed a very perfectionist mind while recording the album, opting to record all guitar and bass parts instead of having guitarist James Iha and bassist D’arcy Wretzky doing it themselves. On this Billy would say he chose this as what would take them three takes to record he could do in one. Which is important when you come to this album’s sound. Distorted fuzz guitars were tracked up to one-hundred times for each song (Via Billy Corgan in 90’s Siamese Dream tab book) and clean guitars doing the same. Billy would sit in the studio for hours tracking riffs one string at a time to create less noise. Along with that, he experimented heavily with dals and effects using any sort of flea market fuzzes he could find (1994 “Viewhoria” VHS and DVD) even including a homemade lap steel guitar fuzz into the main sound. But, of all of his fuzz’s the Electro-Harmonix OP amp V5 Big Muff would champion for its heavy and untamed sounds. 


But, after months of being over-budget and overworked the album was finished. And it was wonderful. The songs show influences from all walks of rock (and non-rock) music, heavy 90’s rock fused with 70s psychedelic rock mixed with anything else you wanted to throw in. The songs range from acoustic ballads (Spaceboy) to heavy non-stop rock (Geek USA) to nine-minute jam epics like Silver—-. The rock never goes away on this record. But that does not mean this album is a nonstop rocker, even the heavy attack of fuzz that is Geek USA takes a quick break with dancing phased guitars and beautiful instrumentation all around, before hitting back into the rock, which this album does often, like on “Soma”. Overall the album is entirely worth its hour and three minutes and entertains in every way possible.