Sunday, November 11, 2007

album of the day

Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins.

Would it surprise you to learn that Sharon Osbourne's finest moment is not her Botox-ed judgmental musings on X-Factor? Nor indeed her contributions to the family soap opera? No, her greatest contribution to modern culture is her very public resignation from managing Smashing Pumpkins back in 2000, on the eve of the release of their fifth album MACHINA/The Machines Of God, citing medical reasons - "Billy Corgan was making me sick", and going on to refer to him as "a six foot baldy twat in a dress". All hilariously undignified but quite amusing given Corgan's slightly humourlessly high opinion of himself - and around this time he was regularly sporting a full-length leather skirt combo, so he hardly had grounds for complaint.

Back in 1993 things were a bit simpler. Corgan hadn't started wearing women's clothes, for one thing, and Smashing Pumpkins were releasing the follow-up to their debut album Gish. And a pretty splendid album it is too. Smashing Pumpkins were, like a lot of other early-1990s bands, bracketed together under the "grunge" banner with Nirvana and others, but this couldn't be more different from Nirvana's primitivism; it's a lavishly produced, layered and overdubbed affair, all the more surprisingly given that it was produced by the same man as Nevermind, Butch Vig.

Corgan's nasal yelp (very much an acquired taste) and buzzy, sludgy guitar sound (rumour has it he re-recorded all his bandmates' guitar and bass parts himself) dominate the first few tracks Cherub Rock, Quiet and Today. The album really gets into its stride with the longer songs that give the band a bit of space to stretch out: songs like Hummer, Soma and Silverfuck. A few lighter acoustic-based numbers like Disarm, Spaceboy and Sweet Sweet aside one could criticise the album for being a bit short on variation, light and shade, etc., but then again you could always pop on a Joni Mitchell album afterwards.

No comments: