The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

Billy Corgan was the first star produced in alt-rock’s early-’90s star-producing boom period who could’ve been a rock star in any less civilized time, too. In the ’70s, Corgan’s gift for triumphal melodic excess would’ve almost certainly catapulted him into Camaro stereos, though he probably would’ve had to wail or bellow instead of doing the adenoidal mumblewhine that came naturally to him. (Or he could’ve done like Journey’s Neal Schon and found himself a wailer or a bellower to stand out front while he cranked out the triumphal melodic excess.) But then, Chris Cornell, a top-shelf wail-bellower, probably would’ve been a ’70s star, too. Cornell, however, would’ve been lost in the ’80s mainstream-rock landscape, which is presumably how he ended up on SST in the first place. Corgan might’ve had to cake on a few pounds of pancake makeup to hide that babyface, but he could’ve been a Sunset Strip glam-metaller, easily, and there’s plenty of Sunset Strip glam-metal residue in the solos and power-ballads that made it onto Siamese Dream, his breakout. Unlike the various other alt-rock breakout stars, he had basically zero hardcore or pigfuck or college-rock pedigree working for him, and though he was enough of a shoegaze-head to hire Loveless guru Alan Moulder to mix Siamese Dream, he mostly just recognized the genre’s dissolving swoops as yet another guitar-based route to triumphal melodic excess, one that worked really well alongside Byrdsy space-jangle and Floydian head-trips and Kiss-esque blazes of glory. Siamese Dream remains Corgan’s most perfectly calibrated big-rock moment, a canny radio-grab that accurately took the temperature of its time and turned out to be a moving personal statement, almost despite itself.

Fun fact: I earned myself an afternoon or two of eighth-grade playground-fame by calling into the local Baltimore album-rock station and getting on the air once, asking the DJ what Corgan was mewling at the climactic moment of “Today.” (I was convinced it was “my fill is strange,” even though that made no sense; turns out it was really “my belly stings.” The DJ was no help.) I was playing the fool, of course, but this still seemed like the sort of question that mattered, and I’d have long conversations with friends regarding just what the hell Corgan was talking about at any given moment. Those lyrics were all basically gobbledygook, of course, quite possibly engineered specifically to give 13-year-olds something vague to puzzle over. But they came wrapped in music of such obvious transcendent power that they had to mean something, and wasn’t until “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” that Corgan’s lyrics became the kind of thing you joke about.

Those lyrics seemed to be worth debating, partly because Corgan made them so hard to decipher and partly because Siamese Dream was just an obvious instant classic, an album with scope and force and hooks to burn. Before its release, all the band really had to its name was one very good album of culty guitar curlicues on a pseudo-indie and one scene-stealing final track on the Singles soundtrack. But even to an adolescent alt-rock-radio dork like me, the album immediately scanned as an obvious Big Deal, and all I really had to hear was that great extended endorphin-rush build on first single “Cherub Rock” to know it. Man, the intros on this album! The slow-building fuzz roar of “Cherub Rock,” the precise twinkle-chimes of “Today,” the elegiac church bells of “Disarm” — all brilliant, and that’s just the singles. Corgan had evidently put in serious time as a rock student, and even when you get into the late-album transitions, like the way the almost-metallic ends of multi-part epics like “Mayonaise” and “Silverfuck” always fade right into acoustic sighs like “Spaceboy” and “Sweet Sweet.” And all this stuff mattered, because we, as listeners, had quickly accustomed ourselves to the grunge-era idea that this sort of conscientious craft was now irrelevant, that the real geniuses would transmit angst directly from their souls to our ears. (That’s not to say that, say, Pearl Jam didn’t put serious work into Vs., but bands like Pearl Jam were great at making their music sound second-nature, and Corgan wasn’t.) Corgan pulled off something with all the widescreen ambition of, say, Use Your Illusion, but he did it using the language of alt-rock. And if his decision there was a con, then we could use more cons like that.

It’s telling that two of 1993′s best rock albums, Exile In Guyville and Siamese Dream, came from people who were feeling completely alienated by Chicago’s cool-kids underground rock scene. The defining poles of that scene — Steve Albini’s spartan sonics, Urge Overkill’s hilariously cocksure swagger — could do great things, but they were focusing on some pretty stark and simple things. Albini was directly involved in two of 1993′s other best rock albums, In Utero and Rid Of Me, but it’s funny to listen to king-shits Urge Overkill’s own 1993 major-label move Saturation next to Siamese Dream. Urge Overkill wore leisure suits and medallions and wanted to be Cheap Trick, a commendable goal. And Saturation had great singles. But they were an alt-rock band who actually wanted a pop breakthrough and weren’t quite good and varied enough to get there. Corgan, meanwhile, was a paisley-shirted, potato-faced dork who locked himself in the studio for years, spent too much of his label’s money, pissed off his bandmates, played most of the instruments on the album himself, and actually ended up making a ’70s-style rock opus with the sweep and the success of the old records that the Urge dudes probably worshipped. That must’ve stung.

And in a weird way, the world probably needed a ’70s-style rock opus in the summer of 1993. That was the peak of the alt-boom, the moment just before Nirvana and Pearl Jam got around to releasing the blockbuster follow-ups to their breakthroughs, when major labels got busy attempting to snatch up the entire rosters of labels like Touch & Go and Dischord. The hype was that the face of music had changed forever, that honesty and guitar-fuzz would rule from then until forevermore — and if you were a kid who read music magazines, as I was, then you probably believed the hype. But this was a ridiculous utopian idea, and it wouldn’t last much longer. The pretenders of the world, the Collective Souls and the Candleboxes, were already starting to sneak onto alt-rock radio playlists, and within five years, “grunge” would come to mean “Creed.” Siamese Dream was marketed as a grunge record, but it’s emphatically not one. It’s also emphatically not a cynical record. It’s merely a record that wants to be huge, and it succeeds on every level. So maybe it served as a gentle reminder to the idea that a great rock album didn’t have to change the world; it just had to be a great rock album. And in the years that followed, when Corgan covered Fleetwood Mac and dropped an enormous double-album and shaved his head and wore silver lame and headlined Lollapalooza and went synthpop, none of it was really that much of a surprise. He’d established with Siamese Dream that a big-money alternative rock album didn’t have to be an act of ideological war, that it didn’t have to drive a wedge between our side and their side. All it had to do was rule. Which it did.

So: What was your favorite Siamese Dream song? Your favorite sensitive-Corgan interview quote? Your favorite summertime memory of listening to the album, preferably with the windows down? Talk about it in the comments section, and maybe watch some videos too.

Comments (95)
  1. i distinctly remember this record didn’t come with a lyrics sheet, so back then i printed my own – on a dot matrix printer. i still have it tucked inside the cd insert.

    i’d always go with rocket as my favorite sd song, but i’d have to go with soma as my runner up. it perfectly encapsulates everything i love about the pumpkins: the grandiosity, the lengthy songs, streamlined production, the loud-soft dynamics.

    goddamn i still love this album.

  2. soma is just one of the most beautiful songs of the decade.

  3. At first, Soma and Mayonaise.

    But after 15 years of listening, I must admit that Hummer is a masterpiece, other artists could have done 1 entire album with all the stuff packed inside those 5 minutes of music.

    • Totally agree with you. Hummer has always been my favorite.

      • Hummer has become my go-to song on the album, and it has nothing to do with how much I listened to some of those other tracks. Just so epic.

        Smashing Pumpkins, perhaps more than any other band, shaped how I listened to music. They were probably the first band I was truly head over heels for.

        • FINALLY! for literally the past 20 years i thought no one else understood how damn good Hummer is! thank you for making me feel less alone about that! it is criminal how many fans of the Smashing Pumpkins and of this album just slept on that song. the second that hanging guitar note kicks in i’m locked in every time. just listened to it yesterday and it still is better than 95% of the rest of my music on the iPod.

  4. So, yeah, about the 1980s……………

  5. This was my first proper album… was and probably still is my favorite. It’s just perfect. My fondest memories of it were during the summer of 1994… it seemed like it was still riding strong a year after it was released; but a lot of albums were like that back then.
    Hard to pick a favorite song; sort of always changes. But Soma, Hummer, Rocket are always go-to’s.

    Motherfucker, this album’s already 20? Some albums from the 90 have aged surprisingly well; compared to how an album from the 70s sounded in the 90s. Perhaps bigger gaps in time, as far as musical/cultural movements and ideas, and of course production technology.

  6. Hummer has always been my favourite track. Like Soma, it’s a song with a huge arc and it’s still got that gypsy feel that made Gish’s sound so unique: the intro, the outro, the angsty wailing, the strange acceptance that certain things are beyond your control. As far as my adolescent self was concerned, Billy’s lyrics and songwriting peaked with Hummer. Nothing else on SD was this dreamy, metaphysical, and uplifting.

  7. This is THE album for me. I was never really into music and just kind of listened to whatever my parents played (and my mom’s favorite singer is still Bobby Sherman, so…yeah). Somehow I got a hold of Siamese Dream, pressed play, and the opening drum riff of Cherub Rock came on.

    It was like those movie scenes where someone tries a drug for the first time and the camera zooms in on their dilating pupils before it starts to spin. I’ve never been the same.

  8. 20 already? Shit. What a fantastic album. One of my very favorites of all time. An album that I’ll always have time for.

    Silversun Pickups kind of tried (kind of), but I’m still waiting for that specific 90′s resurgence that has some great bands basically copying this sound to perfection. Especially as more and more people get tired of the low-key folk obsessed indie shtick. A big middle finger to “elitist-cool,” like this album was.

    “Today” will always be my nostalgiac favorite, but these days “Hummer” is my go to track off the album, especially in the summer. I’m actually very pleased to see a few other comments saying the same. I remember getting this album for Christmas (remember getting excited about CD’s for Christmas?? Damn those were good days…) and ran that copy raw. I’m sure I’ve bought it a couple times since including the amazing reissue a couple years ago.

    Sigh…such a great thing.

    • Another random memory…

      I can remember being asked to provide the words to some poetry that moves or inspires me in 9th grade English class…I brought in “Soma” by Billy Corgan.

    • The Joy Formidable are another group who’s gone the Pumpkins/alt route in recent years. Like Silversun, they don’t do it nearly as well but it’s definitely there.

    • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, although kind of lo-fi, pretty much used SD as the blueprint for their second album, Belong. Wavves’ latest album also had some Pumpkins influence in there, in my opinion, although Nirvana would be the more obvious reference.

      Smashing Pumpkins had a pretty amazing sound, especially that wall of fuzz thing that they did. That’s what makes it both unmistakably 90′s, but timeless at the same time.

      • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will never get it, though, because they’re too knowingly cutesy. And I say this as someone who likes their record… but something about the lyrics and delivery on Belong say “this is a record about what it feels like to be a teenager but it’s funny because we’re not teenagers anymore. Isn’t it a LOL how many feelings we used to have?”

        • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart had great production courtesy of Flood, but in my humble opinion, the songs weren’t that great and certainly I would/could never even remotely compare them to the Pumpkins man. THAT is a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig stretch. Waves is an even worse stretch. Both bands are pretty good bands, but both bands simply havn’t tapped into the primal urgency and emotive power of Billy Corgan’s cathartic songwriting. By the way, I’ve never heard anybody bring up Smashing Pumpkins and Waves up in the same sentence :P

      • Wavves!! A little bit of pumpkins, way more nirvana, older stuff less so. They are amazing live, going to see them tonight in beantown. if its anything like the last show it will be lots of fun with plenty of 90′s moshing. Might look weird for the kids to see a 40yrd old in the pit, but i dont give a f*ck I’m having fun tonight!

    • ‘Especially as more and more people get tired of the low-key folk obsessed indie shtick. A big middle finger to “elitist-cool,” like this album was.’

      Amen brother. It seems like you have to have wind chimes in the background to get critics to like you.

      Silversun Pickups are a worthy successor to Pumpkins in my opinion. Distortion, fuzz, maxed up sound, some killer solos here and there. Also fantastic live performances.

      One band that I think does a god job with the 90s vibe is Magneta Lane.

      • Silversun’s sound is worthy, I just think their songwriting is often lacking. Still, Lazy Eye is one of the best Pumpkins songs of the last decade (that’s including the actual Pumpkins songs)

  9. Mike Barber  |   Posted on Jul 26th, 2013 +1

    Oh, man, what an album… one of my first CDs. The jewel case is ruined and I’ve had to repair the disc twice, but it’s probably my most-listened-to album ever. Mayonnaise is my favourite cut on there — I basically learned how to play guitar by figuring out that jam — but the singles are otherworldly. Nothing sounds as much like the early-mid 90s to me as ‘Today’, and the video for ‘Cherub Rock’ seems to have been a template for a dozen or so (mostly Canadian, by my recollection) inferior rock bands to imitate — some sorta outdoorsy studio set, odd colours and filters, and scary looking trees. God bless ye, Breihan, for taking some time to talk about this beauty of a disc

  10. I remember hearing tons of Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers on the radio as a young kid and, for some bizarre and incomprehensible reason, thinking they were both the same band and that every song I heard was on this album. When I convinced my parents to buy it for me, I was surprised to find that Under the Bridge wasn’t on here, but I can’t say I was disappointed based on how excellent it is. Geek USA soundtracked the first time I visited Yosemite Falls, Today was one of the first songs I learned on guitar and the music video for was so eerie and creepy for a young dude.

    • I’ll do you one better: a friend of mine once told me when he was a kid he thought “Rocket” and “Sweet Emotion” were the same song. The second he said that I knew what he was talking about, and now I’ll never unhear it.

  11. It’s “Mayonaise” for me, but this is in my top 5 albums of all time (if you’d asked me in high school it would have been #1 by a landslide), so really, pick any song.

    Now where’s the “Kill ‘Em All Turns 30″ write-up?

  12. I got this cd for my 4th birthday, and my parents blacked out the back part where it lists “silver fuck” as one of the songs. I thought it was really embarrassing.

  13. I arrived to the “Siamese Dream”, guided by Pumpkin mania after “Mellon Collie”. Sadly, 17 years later, I’m still stuck on “Mellon Collie” because it was my ultimate teenage album ( I try to give a damn about the absurd lyrics in Corgan’s music). That time, I was looking for the effective magnificence I found on the double album, so my favourites were “Disarm” and “Mayonaise”.

    Now, I value more the simple tracks like “Sweet, Sweet”, because they show how great Corgan could be as a composer.

    • No “sadness” there, MCIS is still my fav too. Part of it’s unending appeal is it’s absurdity

      • I totally agree. If you include the numerous b-sides released on all the various single configurations it’s about five albums worth of material for most normal bands, and all of them better than what most other bands were producing at the time. It’s a brilliant album that I still listen to and will always love. That being said, I’m still more emotionally attached and connected to the warmth of Siamese Dream. There’s just something about the way Butch and Billy produced that album that makes me feel a very particular way.

        • That reissue of MCIS last year is honestly one of the best musical purchases I’ve ever made. Such a glorious commemoration to an amazing album.

          In fact, all of these reissues have been awesomely generous.

          • The re-issues have been very generous and very well done from a package production standpoint. My only complaint is that it cost $200 to get both the MCIS and Aereplane Flies High sets and they’re really just two big pieces of the same pie.

          • I get that…I have a “hookup” so I tend forget how much they really run. Still, MCIS was a no brainier. And I never did own the original Aeroplane…so I figure what the hell!

            Either way, that MCIS one is so delicious.

          • I used to have a “hookup” – which is to say I used to work at a record store. In fact, I was working at Tower when this album was released and I was able to order one of the bad ass marbled dark pink double vinyls for myself. Still own it, still play it. But that ended about 18 years ago, so the only hookup I have now is being a good comparison shopper. The internet has made that much easier, but it’s also driven up the prices on a lot of items because more people are looking for them.

            I didn’t buy the original Aeroplane, either, because I had all the singles and the only thing new was the cover songs, which I didn’t care about at all. Still, felt a bit like doubling-up on my part and double-dipping on their part having to buy two RE-releases to get all the stuff that related to one album. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the Aeroplane vinyl set, too. It would be pretty bad ass to have all that stuff on fresh, heavy-weight slabs.

  14. This is the album that made me an audiophile. The moments where I listen to new music and think to myself “where has this been all my life?” are now few and far between, but I still remember that moment.

    This album inspired me to learn guitar…I HAD to know how he was doing what he was doing. It also made buying a Big Muff a must. I finally got to check off an item on my bucket list and play my favorite song – Hummer – live. I felt like such a rock star droppin panties with that smooth solo at the end. It feels so good to play…

  15. Joking about Corgan’s lyrics? What’s funny about “the world is a vampire / sent to drain”?

  16. This was the true beginning of the end to the scuzzy Seattle grunge, or whatever you want to call it. Nirvana had Bleach, Pumpkins had Gish basically up to this point and, essentially, aside from Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone and Screaming Tees at the time, the scene blew up once this was tied into Nevermind. Truly polarizing album and still fascinated by how popular this grew to become. Corgan, Iha. Even D’Arcy…man, I had such a crush on her. That’s it, I’m going to go right now and listen Mayonnaise. Probably end up up texting my ex girlfriend from that year before the end of the song too….

  17. The stuff on this album and MCIS was the soundtrack to my childhood. Remember when SP would be played on the radio? Just thinking about it makes me want to lead a radio revolution against Lady Gaga and Co. That’s it, I’m taking to the streets. Billy will be my Kony.

  18. Thanks, SG, for once again making me feel really old LOL! This was one of my fav albums in High School. And it still holds up!

  19. I’ll echo pretty much everyone here in naming “Soma” as my favorite from this album, but “Hummer” is nothing to take lightly either.

    Something that this album doesn’t get enough credit for is functioning as a gateway to other musics. I was 8 when this came out and my older sister was in high school at the time, so I played the hell out of this album during my formative years and it was one of the first albums I really got into in a huge way. But what really sticks out for me now is not only how it’s stuck with me all this time, but also how much I think it influenced me to get into stuff like shoegaze and 70s prog. Not that I went straight out and got into MBV at age 9 or anything, but it definitely greased the wheels for me to do so later.

  20. I think this might be the first “… turns 20″ post for an album(cd) I actually owned 20 years ago. Judging by the amount of comments it looks like the same is true for a lot of you.

  21. This album, specifically “Mayonaise” (“Can anybody hear me? I just want to be me”) saved my life. I owe so much to the Pumpkins. I could write a book on their impact on me. I mean, hell, this username is a “Soma” lyric. “Siamese Dream” helped a nerdy outcast realize she wasn’t alone. Thanks to SP, I picked up guitar (D’Arcy proved to 12-year-old me that women could rock!). I eventually was in a Smashing Pumpkins cover band. And it was the desire as a teen to one day pick Billy Corgan’s brain that made me pursue a career in music journalism. Lo and behold, my dream came true in my 20s writing for a few well-known publications and even being asked to join the staff for I have made lifelong friends thanks to our mutual love of the Pumpkins. Sorry to get emo, but let’s be real: If not for “Siamese Dream,” I wouldn’t be alive today.

  22. Needless to say, this is one of my favorites.

  23. Of all the big commercial “alt” rock albums of the early 90s, I think this one holds up the best…by far, actually. Quite a few of these songs sound like they could be released last week.

    The only thing I don’t like isn’t that Billy Corgan never made an entire album in the vein of “Luna”…it’s like cowboy/outer-space music? Such a cool sound.

  24. This album helped define a band, a sound, an era and a generation. So great that the all the crap that’s happened with Billy and the SP in the last twenty years doesn’t come close to burying its greatness.

  25. I was deep into the whole grunge/alternative thing in ’93 as a 14 year old (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth etc.), and this was basically the first real music thing I latched onto (without any really frame of reference for what rock music had come before, besides 80′s hair metal). I had this notion of “punk rock purity” where music wasn’t “real music” unless it was strictly a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a singer making “real” music “from the heart.”

    As such, I remember telling a friend at school “I don’t like Smashing Pumpkins because the lead singer uses some kind of digital synthesizer effect on his voice!” I had no idea wtf I was talking about apparently, but it just always sounded like Billy Corgan’s voice was being run through a vocoder to me and it pissed me off. No vocoders in rock!

    I ate my words later that fall when I finally caved and bought “Siamese Dream.” F*ck, what an album! Loved it then, still love it. In my top 3 albums of my lifetime, definitely. I still do think Billy Corgan is a douche though.

  26. I would listen to this at my local record store in Switzerland about once a week for months, being entranced by the explosive build-up and sonic deliciousness of the likes of ‘Cherub Rock’ and ‘Hummer’…Never, to this day, have I gotten into the second half of this record, though…I might be missing out…Still, overall I do prefer the more expansive ‘Mellon Collie’.

  27. I remember starting to listen to my local alternative radio station in maybe the 7th grade. It must have been 2000-2001. Rocket, Cherub Rock, Mayonnaise, Today, and Disarm were played all the time. Cherub Rock fascinated me. It was one of the first rock songs I really cared about. I went to stay with my older sister in Kansas around the same time, and I found Siamese Dream in her CDs. I listened to it start to finish several times every night. I ended up “borrowing” the cd from her. It was my first Rock album. Siamese Dream made me fall in love with the guitar and with alternative music, and everything since then has been building on my first experience with this album. I’ve since moved on to a lot of better and more diverse stuff, but it will always hold a special place in my heart for starting my love affair with music.

  28. I love the fact that my parents were pretty hip. Definitely got to hear this, Pearl Jam’s Vs. and Nirvana’s Unplugged in the car all the time. So many images and memories attached to this music!

  29. I had MCIS first, and that alone was enough to make SP the most important band of my high school years. I was pretty convinced that was as good as it got…and then I got this. I loved everything about it and it shot to the top of my all-time faves in no time. Obviously the angst was a big part of that, but I was a huge fan of each member, especially Corgan the guitarist and Chamberlain, always trying to sell people – my dad, my drum-snob friends, etc – on how awesome they were.

    The album never was too far from y reach over the years, but I remember later in my early 20s going back to it, wary of how much I’d like it now that some of the angst had passed, and falling in love with it all over again just based on the depth and glory of the album as a sonic accomplishment – how psychedelic, heavy, pretty, and all around unstoppable it was. Nobody from the 90s rock scene sounded like them and their mastery of all those elements – I guess early Verve was the closest, but that was a bit more druggy and shoegaze-y. This is my favorite album of the 1990s and one of my three favorites of all time. All these years later, it’s still right on every level.

    Oh, and fave song? Probably “Hummer”, but maybe “Geek U.S.A”, too, with “Mayonaise”, “Soma”, and “Cherub Rock” right on their heels.

  30. top ten favorite

    my description: glorious

    cars, dorms, weed, sex, God

  31. Still my favorite album of all time (duh). It’s the album that made me a music lover/nerd. I can listen to it at any time and I’m always in the mood for it and it never gets old.

    I like a lot of heavy, ferocious music like grunge and metal and hardcore, and I also love a lot of gentle, dreamy music like Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Luna, and so on. I have yet to find an album that blends seething heaviness and gentle beauty as well as this one. It exists at the perfect intersection of grunge and dream-pop.

    It would be impossible to pick a favorite song. Cherub Rock is a perfect opener. Hummer makes me feel alive like nothing else (who doesn’t swoon at “I was happier THAN I’VE EVER BEEN” and “YEAH-AH-AH I-I-I LOVE YOU” and “LIFE’S A DRA-EE-A-EE-AG”). Geek USA is the best drumwork I’ve ever heard. Mayonaise is widescreen teen angst perfection. And Sweet Sweet packs more beauty into under 2 minutes than most bands could do with 10.

  32. One of those perfect albums that I almost feels gets lost in today’s itunes world. One of those albums you can sit back and listen to start to finish and feel like you just went on some kind of journey. This along with Vs for me was a great summer.

    Too bad the original four couldn’t stay together. I know Corgan and Chamberlain were the main musicians and driving force of the group, but for some reasons the four of them worked well together-even if they were constantly fighting.

    Pumpkins were always stuck in a tough spot. At their core I always felt they were one of the best club bands, meant to be seen and experienced in a smaller venue. To this day the fan base is quite divided between those that are familiar with the bands catalouge and those that just want to hear bullet with butterfly wings (a terrible song with a great title and one corgan has admitted he does not understand the appeal).

    for their hits and misses over the years I can always appreciate that they tried something new on every album. They are one of those bands that have “eras.” You can hear a song and almost guess the years it was written.

    Hummer and Mayonaise are probably my favorites.

  33. Wow. This album is older then me.

    I can actually remember buying this album a few years ago. I was 15 years old and to be quite frank, had little musical knowledge. Although my parents have a huge and eclectic taste in music , I still didn’t have my own bands or artists I could call my own. The only bands I was really into was Green Day after their comeback established by the grand epic that was “American Idiot”, Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon ( I bought “Because Of The Times” for my birthday and believe that it is their best album as well as one that is criminally underrated). At the time, being musically illiterate and ignorant, I didn’t know any bands or artists that could hold my attention or get me mildly interested. So I decided to backtrack to the 90′s!

    I went to E2 music store to browse through their huge collection of music of all genres and spanning through the decades, most were used, second-hand CDs (it is sadly closed for almost three years now and there was nothing else like it in my dead-end town). And most were quite cheap too. It was here I discovered Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Sonic Youth, Bloc Party and of course, Smashing Pumpkins. It was in fact their Greatest Hits compilation, “Rotten Apples”, that I first bought to try and help get a feel of their music. To look back, it is quite erratic; from their early days with songs like “Siva” and “Rhinoceros”, then onto “Cherub Rock” and “Today”, followed by MCIS’s “Tonite, Tonite” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings and then onto their later material like “Ava Adore”, “Eye” and “The Everlasting Gaze” which were more darker, synth-induced and less approachable for the casual listener. It was the tracks from Siamese Dreams that really opened my ears. I then later purchased the album itself.

    I can safely say it was like delving into a otherworldly sonic universe. I never heard guitars sound heavy and aggressive yet lush and just pure darn pretty. I already knew “Cherub Rock” and “Today” but it was tracks like “Hummer”, “Quiet”, “Soma”, “Silverfuck”, “Geek USA” and “Rocket” that just mesmerized me. I didn’t know you could make music with such grandiosity and yet be so fun and devoid of any pretentiousness. It was a discovery for me. It was new for me. It led to me discovering other band of other genres in other eras. And more importantly, for some reason it felt like it was mine. I was an instant fan and became an instant fan of a whole collection of bands as a result. Music basically overtook my interest of movies as I am also an ardent movie fan. I loaned CDs to my friends and was met with enthusiasm or complete derision. This is what happens when you have friends who are into the samey, contrived, emo-infected metalcore scene (bleh). I’m from Ireland and believe me when I tell you there is no underground-rock movement taking place. Hell, there is good music produced in this country full-stop; we are culturally stagnant almost 30 years behind the State or the UK socially. We are a still a society that preaches the “Jock mentality”, you are praised if you excell at sports but intelligence, music, film or anything that can be considered “the arts” is almost frowned upon. As cliqued as it sounds, its frighteningly true (PS. don’t go to Ireland; its a shit-hole). I didn’t care though. It was my music and i felt proud to be the proprietor of classic albums of classic bands.

    The reason i feel that Siamese Dreams is one of the best albums in alt-rock history is not only is the material amazing after all these years, it introduced me to so many bands, old and new, and even inspired me to make my own band this summer with a few of my friends (mostly to stave off boredom and pretend to Billy Corgan with hair….and maybe less cantankerous). So thank you Billy Corgan and Co. (or should I say ‘Old Co.’), not only did this album led me to your music it effectively led me to a pantheon of other music-makers.


    • Dude, My Bloody Valentine and The Cranberries are from Ireland.

      • Believe me when i say this; My Bloody Valentine are more well-known in other places around the globe then in the country in which two members of the band originate! Honestly, they are practically one the pioneering bands of shoegaze and they are barely recognised. I only discovered them barely a year myself a year ago!

    • Dude, you do realize the name of the album is Siamese Dream, not “Dreams,” right?

  34. It was the summer we graduated. I remember sitting on my best friend’s sweltering back porch in Florida listening to SD over and over trying to figure out where all that guitar was coming from and being blown away by Chamberlin’s preternatural drumming. Every listen revealed more. My friend said, “There is just too much sound for the speakers. You can’t turn them up loud enough to fit it all in!” Once you sat back and read the lyrics along with the CD it took it to another level. I also skipped “Quiet,” “Hummer,” and “Rocket” at first then they became my favorite songs on the album. The thing about Corgan is there is no filler. Even songs you don’t like at first will grow on you if you take the time to really listen.

  35. Rocket gets me everytime.

    That gargantuan crescendo at the end, skreeeeeeeeeEEEEEBAAAAAAM! I’ve almost crashed my car several times listening to it. Threw a pack of cigarettes into a moving convertible one time. Last time I smoked for months.

    I think it might be my favorite song ever. Just wanna piledrive somebody or throw a million dollars out of a helicopter.

  36. Been listening all weekend. It sounds like it could’ve been released yesterday. It still, impossibly, sounds extremely heavy while being sweet as syrup. So much sincerity and grandiosity, it’s refreshing. Thank God there are still musicians with big ideas.

  37. Beautiful album. I simply put this on repeat when I had to trudge through hours of lifeguarding.

    Push play and forget. That’s the ultimate compliment to a record.

  38. Quiet might be my fav :) but then again how can you really beat Cherub Rock?

  39. woops, a little late to the party, but…

    +1 to the Hummer collective

    I had an unusual Pumkpins intro: hearing Stand Inside Your Love and The Everlasting Gaze on the radio, being astounded and amazed (as my 6th-grade self) by what I was hearing, and then subsequently purchasing Siamese Dream, a few tracks of which were regularly playing on radio then (and still are! San Diego’s legendary 91X).

    And then, well, the next 4 albums I bought were the remaining easily-acquired Pumpkins’ discs. I know every song, word for word, note for note, on this album. When I finally had the opportunity to see Billy and Jimmy live, at a small venue in Santa Cruz (the off-night of their Fillmore “comeback” residency), it was a transcendent experience. Their performance was absolutely excellent (albeit Zeitgeist-heavy) and really, for seeing the Pumpkins in 2007, far exceeded my expectations.

    I’m echoing an above poster in saying this was my #1 album through high school, and have subsequently had such an hierarchical pantheon restructured as a consequence of exposure. But damn does this album have, to this day, its lurking tendrils tickling many of the ankles of what I now listen to.

    Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium 7/20/2007

    United States
    Bleeding the Orchid
    Doomsday Clock
    Lucky 13
    To Sheila
    Tonight, Tonight
    Stand Inside Your Love
    Bullet with Butterfly Wings
    That’s the Way (My Love Is)
    Heavy Metal Machine

    Cherub Rock

    Encore 2:
    Death From Above

    • Oooo! You got to witness a Gossamer performance. Nice. I caught three of them at the Fillmore run on ’07 and watching them on YouTube or the concert DVD doesn’t do justice to the hugeness of seeing that half hour live, in person. Mostly because half the audience is at first going, “WTF is this?” Followed by, “Why isn’t it ending?” Followed getting lost in it and not wanting it to end. I hope they bring it back someday, at least in part.

  40. This is the best album of the 90′s. This is the best album of the 90′s. That is all.

  41. Like many on here I can’t believe this record is 20yrs old O_o!!! Damn, I was playing Sega Genesis and watching Headbangers Ball when this came out. Where’d the time go?!

    Anyways…. Cherub Rock, Today and Hummer are my personal big 3 off this album

  42. The Smashing Pumpkins really shaped the way I played guitar and wrote songs in bands afterwards, because they impressed upon me that heavy guitars could be one element of a band’s sonic toolbox without being the only important one. What happened to that — using heavy guitars, but not always? Why don’t the heavy bands have their “Spaceboy” now? Why don’t the mostly clean guitar bands bust out the fuzz box once in a while?

  43. This album came out the summer after I graduated from 8th grade (Catholic school). I was preparing to go to public High School and was both scared and excited beyond belief. I had always been a music guy, but without the internet or a decent music store, I was limited. I had a cousin from Chicago who would make mixed tapes and bring them to the beach every summer. I would use those to explore as much as I could: Dinosaur Jr, NIN, Minor Threat, etc. The summer prior to Siamese Dream, I remember being up at the arcade when we were at the beach and playing Tristessa from Gish over and over with my quarters. I could not find the album anywhere in my town, so I didn’t have it. I had Rhinoceros on one of my mixed tapes and just loved the sound. You younger kids need to understand that there was a time when you knew that you liked an album – really wanted to buy it – and still could not find it if the local Camelot Music or whatever didn’t carry it.

    Anyway, this came out and still brings me back to that time in my life. Late nights on my bike with friends. First beer. First “2nd base” hookup. Awesome times. Unbelievable. I pretty much hate everything they (he) has done since, but Gish and Siamese Dream are perfect to this day.

    Hummer by far.

  44. First album I ever bought. I snapped it into my discman and listened to it end-to-end 6 times in a row on our ugly floral couch in front of the wood stove, pressing the cheap headphones into my ears until my wrists were sore. It was that night, taking off my headphones, I finally realized that music was the fabric that connects me to the world.

  45. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  46. 1. hummer
    2. mayonaise
    3. luna
    4. soma
    5. geek usa
    6. rocket
    7. sweet sweet
    8. silverfuck
    9. cherub rock
    10. disarm
    11. quiet
    12. today
    13. spaceboy

  47. It makes me happy to see so many other Pumpkins obsessed people on here. The band that forever changed my life, and this their best album.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2