The Smashing Pumpkins, Revisited

I can admit when I’m wrong. It just takes time for me to do so. Case in point: The Smashing Pumpkins.

siamese dreamI remember when and where I was when I first heard 1993’s Siamese Dream, the breakthrough album by this most polarizing of bands. A friend who was more inclined to the metal side of things just bought a copy and we listened to it on a neighbor’s very high end stereo system. It sounded incredible, truthfully, but I couldn’t connect with the angst. Not a problem, though, as I’ve always been much less interested in the lyrics of a song as opposed to the sonics of a song, so I bought it and played the heck out of it. Then Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness came out. It was a massive success, of course, but I didn’t have the slightest bit of interest at the time so I filed my Siamese Dream and moved on to other things. I mean, Mellon Collie was a double CD, which in LP terms meant a triple, and from what I’d heard it had more than a whiff of prog rock to it, something that I’d lost interest in as well around that time.

mellonFast forward to a few weeks ago and someone’s handing me a copy of not only the new Smashing Pumpkins CD Oceania, but a remastered copy of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Well, for those who have been paying attention you are no doubt aware, painfully in some ways I’d imagine, that my affinity for good old fashioned progressive rock has returned somewhat in recent years. I gave Mellon Collie the first spin, and I’ll be damned if the thing didn’t impress the hell out of me! I mean, you know, the concept is nonsense as are most, but the songs are fairly top notch and much catchier than I’d imagined. Tonight Tonight, that overplayed MTV staple of yesteryear even sounds fresh and, dare I say it, almost majestic. Impressed, I throw on Oceania and By GOD it’s pretty decent too! What the hell is happening here?

That evening I pull out my tattered copy of Siamese Dream and the memories come flooding back. Although lumped in with the grunge scene, I believe that Corgan and his crew had more in common with classic 70’s rock and late ‘70’s new wave than Cobain and his lot. More Cure than Pearl Jam and more melodic than either. This is a pretty important album, and while the lyrics have dated a tad the music remains stellar.

So I’ve given poor Billy a hard time over the years on this blog, and while I won’t take back what I said of his hissy fits over the years I have come to realize that most, if not all, of my musical heroes have had more than a few as well, and I won’t hold that against him or his musical legacy, which I think could be redeemed somewhat by this new album and incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins.