Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

ARTIST: Smashing Pumpkins 

TITLE: Siamese Dream

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION:  US #10, UK #4

SINGLES: Cherub Rock (#7 Alternative, #23 Mainstream, #31 UK), Today (#103 US, #4 Alternative, #28 Mainstream, #44 UK), Disarm (#48 Airplay, #8 Alternative, #5 Mainstream, #11 UK, Rocket (#28 Mainstream. #89 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Starboy, Mayonaise

LINEUP: Billy Corgan, D’Arcy Wretzsky, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlain. Mike Mills played piano on a track. Eric Remschneider and David Ragsdale played the string parts.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The album that put the Pumpkins on the map, and still a favorite of Generation X today.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first thing you notice about Siamese Dream is the guitar sound. THE guitar sound that made Billy Corgan famous. Yes it was all over Gish, but here, it’s layered and layered to an inch of its life. Producer Butch Vig and Corgan constructed a monolith of sound. There are pages on the ‘net and videos about that tone

Then there’s the songs. Here’s where Billy and the Pumpkins perfect (or steal) the famous Pixies Loud-Soft-Loud (or Soft-Loud-Soft, depending). The songs here are long, sprawling discourses – mostly on mental health and other assorted issues. There’s some dialing back of the alt-rock pummeling, with two tracks (famously “Disarm”) being string-driven, and songs like “Today” which crank down the urgency to bring some emotional heft.

Most of the songs are very familiar to the Gen X Alt-Rock masses, but before writing this review I had to wonder when I played the whole thing through. It just seems like it goes on forever, with many tracks (five) over five minutes long, and others just seem long. Some of those long cuts seem a bit ponderous and momentum-stalling.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This took a long time and was way over budget. There are conflicting reports on how much James Iha and D’Arcy actually played on the record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with lots of bonus tracks and demos.

GRADE: A-: It’s an alt-rock touchstone, but it’s got its flaws and needed some pruning.

One thought on “Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

  1. “It just seems like it goes on forever, with many tracks (five) over five minutes long, and others just seem long. Some of those long cuts seem a bit ponderous and momentum-stalling.”

    This. I owned this when it came out in ’93 (as an 18 year old Gen X’er, I was the target demographic). I liked it okay at the time, but getting through the whole album was a slog (62 minutes), and it really loses momentum near the end.

    The over-long album in the 90s was too much of a thing, since this was the decade where a CD, with 74 minutes of run-time, was king. Many single albums were basically double albums by 70s-80s standards. I guess the good thing was it was more value for money for a kid like me since CD prices were already overinflated and these long albums were not charged like a double.

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