The Smashing Pumpkins
50 top albums of all time
Of these 50 albums Billy Corgan and Co have produced by far the hugest sound, as Corgan, with his psychedelic pretenses and his love of legs-astride guitar Godhood took the rock dreams of every American adolescent and expanded them exponentially. Played at the applicable volume Gish's glittering epic "Snail" is one of the most self-important and bombastic songs ever recorded (matching a more obvious companion record, Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger). But here they're executing the aural wall-of-melodrama with a degree of class that'd convince the average lo-fi stalwart of its validity, or at least raise the hair on the back of his neck.
From the hazy, doggy images of the cover art to the other-worldly androgyny of Corgan's voice - faceless and sinister, the lack of context rendering even the screams alien - Smashing Pumpkins rose as an enigmatic band out of the ordinary, thanks in part to this album's place in the shadow of Nirvana's concurrently released Never mind. At home and abroad, the ingenuous self-importance was none too cool. But the music was stratospheric. From the chugging overdrive of "I Am One" to the glassy fragility of bassist D'Arcy's weird-out "Daydream", the Smashing Pumpkins revel in the power of rock. Corgan's clinical musicianship placed him dully as the 90's axe man and creative control-freak, while now ex-drummer
Jimmy Chamberlin redefined rock drumming with his overt groove. Corgan went on to hone his art on Siamese Dream (arguably the songs there are better), but even in this nascent stage the Pumpkins hit on a singular sound which combines rock music of the ages, without direct references to an band or sound. As Corgan realized, songs based on attack have the most impact with their first assault. After hearing "Bury Me" the possibilities and proportions of guitar rock can never be the same. So, as Corgan's said, the band has since been "compelled to be Smashing Pumpkins times ten." This quest continues in earnest. And after the Mellon Collie LP's, we must wonder what excess they will resort to next. -Simon Wooldridge.
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