20 Years Ago Today: The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Siamese Dream’

SmashingPumpkins-SiameseDream On July 27th, 1993 American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins released their groundbreaking album, “Siamese Dream”. To mark this anniversary we present you a look back at the album.

Siamese Dream

Released: 27 July 1993
Recorded: December 1992 – March 1993 at Triclops Sound Studios in Marietta, Georgia, United States
Genre: Alternative rock
Length: 62:17
Label: Virgin
Producer: Butch Vig, Billy Corgan

Singles from Siamese Dream

Cherub Rock” Released: July 13, 1993
Today” Released: September 30, 1993
Disarm” Released: March 22, 1994
Rocket” Released: 1994

About Siamese Dream

The band’s debut album, Gish, was released on Caroline Records in 1991 to unexpected success and acclaim. After the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind later that year, The Smashing Pumpkins were hyped as “the next Nirvana”. The band was signed to Caroline Records parent Virgin Records and began recording a follow-up album. Frontman Billy Corgan felt “this great pressure to make the next album set the world on fire”. The immense pressure to succeed intensified an already problematic situation: drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was undergoing an increasingly severe addiction to heroin, guitarist James Iha and bassist D’arcy Wretzky had recently ended their romantic relationship and Corgan, aside from battles with weight gain and suicidal depression, was suffering from his worst-ever bout of writer’s block.

Siamese Dream was recorded mainly between December 1992 and March 1993. The band relocated to Triclops Studios in Marietta, Georgia for the album sessions, so they could avoid local friends and distractions, and to cut Chamberlin off from his known drug connections. Butch Vig reprised his role as producer after working on their debut album Gish.

What the Critics Said

While Gish had placed the Smashing Pumpkins on the “most promising artist” list for many, troubles were threatening to break the band apart. Singer/guitarist/leader Billy Corgan was battling a severe case of writer’s block and was in a deep state of depression brought on by a relationship in turmoil; drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was addicted to hard drugs; and bassist D’Arcy and guitarist James Iha severed their romantic relationship. The sessions for their sophomore effort, Siamese Dream, were wrought with friction — Corgan eventually played almost all the instruments himself (except for percussion). Some say strife and tension produces the best music, and it certainly helped make Siamese Dream one of the finest alt-rock albums of all time. Instead of following Nirvana’s punk rock route, Siamese Dream went in the opposite direction — guitar solos galore, layered walls of sound courtesy of the album’s producers (Butch Vig and Corgan), extended compositions that bordered on prog rock, plus often reflective and heartfelt lyrics. The four tracks that were selected as singles became alternative radio standards — the anthems “Cherub Rock,” “Today,” and “Rocket,” plus the symphonic ballad “Disarm” — but as a whole, Siamese Dream proved to be an incredibly consistent album. Such compositions as the red-hot rockers “Quiet” and “Geek U.S.A.” were standouts, as were the epics “Hummer,” “Soma,” and “Silverfuck,” plus the soothing sounds of “Mayonaise,” “Spaceboy,” and “Luna.” After the difficult recording sessions, Corgan stated publicly that if Siamese Dream didn’t achieve breakthrough success, he would end the band. He didn’t have to worry for long — the album debuted in the Billboard Top Ten and sold more than four million copies in three years. Siamese Dream stands alongside Nevermind and Superunknown as one of the decade’s finest (and most influential) rock albums. ~ Greg Prato

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