Circus Magazine Article - Unknown date

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Readers' Poll - Best Album: Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness [The Smashing Pumpkins' current opus Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness is the latest, most definitive offering of their musical prowess, and CIRCUS readers have voiced their agreement by voting it best album. But the Pumpkins' latest work has a whole history of other songs that not as many people know about. With that in mind, here's asurvey of the range of the band's music.]

To the masses, the Smashing Pumpkins are the band responsible for 1993's triple platinum Siamese Dream, and the recent double album, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness. The group's talents extend beyond the past few years of fame, though. Since forming in 1988, Billy Corgan, bassist D'arcy, guitarist James Iha, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain have blended musically to create a unique sound.

Long before Siamese Dream's first single "Today" made them massively famous, and their sound instantly recognizable, the Pumpkins had been touring and recording tirelessly. Early Chicago demos such as "Spiteface", "East", and "Jackie Blue" bear the birthmark of Corgan's lyrical style. Instrumentally, the band emits garage-band hard rock. Heavy distortion that emerged in their first album, Gish(1990) are absent in these demos, but Corgan and Iha's guitar styles were in embryonic form, and the band's range of equipment was very limited. Some of their earliest demos are available on import such as Sunshine of Your Love and Smashing Pumpkins, Forgotten Songs Pt.1, the latter of which includes the surf sound "Bullet Train to Osaka," early version of "I Am One" and "Rhinoceros," as well as B-sides which reappear on 1994's Pisces Iscariot.

1990 brought the release of Gish, the Pumpkins' debut album that sparked a new flame in the indie rock world at the time. The influential indie magazine CMJ named Gish "Debut Album of the Year." It was soon certified gold.

Co-produced by Corgan and alterna-producer extraordinaire Butch Vig (who is now in the band Garbage), Gish revealed an amalgamation of heavy guitar, passionate lyrics, and varying rhythmic texture in each song, the spotlight is thrown on percussion or vocals only to succumb to an immediate or growing force of rhythm and guitar. The album's singles, "Siva" and "Rhinoceros" are perfect examples of this tendency.

Throughout all the songs, Corgan's lyrical visions are glazed with the dark hue of introspection and self-doubt. His vocals sustain the intensity of earlier demos, but here they show the arduously polished luster.

1993's release, Siamese Dream, showed that the Pumpkins had attained pure, unadulterated sonic mastery. Instantly recognized as an essential album, it went triple platinum and went to the top of the charts.

Co-produced again by Butch Vig, the album is most recognized for "Today" and "Disarm," but each track holds a wealth of psychedelic finesse and audio abstraction to captivate the listener's ear. Admitting in a recent Rolling Stone interview that it was "ill-considered decision," Billy Corgan played most of the bass and guitar for the final product. The musical endowments of D'arcy and Iha however, got their platform on tour in 1993 and headlining Lollapalooza in 1994.

Following the success of Siamese Dream the Pumpkins released two albums and a home video of concert performances. 1993's Drown is a collection of live acoustic and electric renderings of tracks from Gish and Siamese Dream. Included on the album is Thin Lizzy cover, "Dancin' in the Moonlight," and the song "Drown," which is featured also in the soundtrack to the movie Singles.

In October 1994, Vieuphoria, a home video of concert footage around the world, was released. The video also includes previously unreleased songs such as "Bugg Superstar," "Pulseczar," and "Why Am I So Tired?" in the same month, the band compiled some B-sides, outtakes, and a couple of covers to round out what would become the platinim album Pisces Iscariot. Often overlooked as simply an intermediary work falling between major albums, Pisces is really a treasure chest of jewels. Iha's glistening "Blew Away" and the 11 minute ecstasy of "Starla" are just the two examples of this beauty this album achieves. Last October, of course, saw the release of Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness. The two CD set, released days after a promo show in Chicago's Riviera Theater(broadcast live nationwide) on October 23. Circus' readers echoes the widely held belief that with the Mellon Collie, the Pumpkins have done it again.

Even beyond what its singles, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" and "1979," can attest, this album is the pinnacle accomplishment for the band so far. With 28 songs that grow ever more potent as the album progresses, Mellon Collie is already cardinal material for any fan. but fear not, the well has not run dry yet. The "1979" CD single includes three fantastic new B-sides: "Believe," "Cherry." and another Iha specialty called "Ugly" (the article is really wrong - Karen). In "Cherry", Corgan laments , "I need a word to say what I can't say." Corgan's excellence is his way with words. That along with the Pumpkin's musical ingenuity, is reason for the recognition the band continues to receive.

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