Very recently The Smashing Pumpkins song “Disarm” celebrated 28 years since its release as a single. To this day, that song still gives me goosebumps. It’s such a poignant song and one of those that will absolutely stand the test of time. This performance of “Disarm” is quite different than the one you find on the masterpiece that is Siamese Dream. Just watch and listen!!
The Smashing Pumpkins- Disarm (Live at the 1994 MTV VMA’s):
The Smashing Pumpkins have a plethora of deep cuts that could fill one hell of a playlist. The deep cuts alone from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness could make an album of their own. I love going back to MCIS and delving into particular songs even more than before. This morning I remembered a certain riff to a Pumpkins song and it took me back to when I bought this album and all the feels I got when I reached this song on the record. The song I’m referring to is “X.Y.U.” from the Twilight To Starlight portion of MCIS. I’ve loved this song from the day I heard it. This is one of the heaviest songs on the album. The song was recorded in one take, live for the record with drum and vocal overdubs added later. The title means “Ex, Why You?”, but is also a play on the spelling of Russian obscene word “хуй” (pronounced “hu:i”) that is translated as “penis”. “X.Y.U.” is a song that was developed in a similar jam fashion to “Silverfuck” as it evolved as a song over the years. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing this song live a couple of times over the years and it’s always a highlight and never disappoints. So, take about 7 minutes out of your day and delve into this superb deep cut from The Smashing Pumpkins.
It’s truly amazing how many great songs The Smashing Pumpkins have that are B-Sides. During the Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness era, not only did they write 28 songs for the alvum but also a whole plethora more which wound up being the box set, The Aeroplane Flies High. One of my favorite songs in the set comes from the “1979” single. That song is “Ugly” and it’s one hell of a great song. One of those B-Sides that you hear and right off the bat think, why wasn’t this on the album?! One day, I’d love for Billy Corgan to put together a whole album of Mellon Collie songs and Aeroplan songs into a full album and see what that sounds like.
One thing I genuinely enjoy about cover songs is when bands really make an effort to make it their own. Whether it’s changing up the vibe or arrangements, the new interpretation often times can take the song to new heights. A great example of this is The Smashing Pumpkins version of Joy Division’s “Transmission.” The Pumpkins take on it is spacey, borderline psychedelic and even transcendent at times. It’s different enough yet still pays homage in a very distinct way.
The Smashing Pumpkins- Transmission (from Adore Deluxe Set):
The Smashing Pumpkins- Transmission Live 98:
The Smashing Pumpkins w/Davey Havok and Peter Hook- Transmission Live 2018:
The Smashing Pumpkins double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness celebrates it’s 25 birthday this year (actually October 24th is the official date). This album, was a huge game changer and has gone on to influence and inspire countless bands and artists throughout the years. I still remember buying the album when it came out, and the countless hours I’d sit in my room and listen to it. One of the memorable moments I have about this album is when I first saw the video for “Tonight, Tonight.” I was absolutely blown away by how visceral the video was along with how interesting it was. The video was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (who would go on to make other pretty awesome videos for Korn and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a couple). The video won multiple MTV Video Music Awards as well as being a Grammy nominated clip. Another interesting tidbit about the video is that it stars Tom Kenny and Jill Talley who you might recognize from their work on Spongebob Squarepants and Mr. Show. This video is one of the all time greats and it deserves to get its acclaim and be celebrated along with the masterpiece of the album it belongs to.
There are certain bands that when they come out, hit a mark with such a sense of vigor and prowess that each era of the band, leaves a lasting impression. Some people tend to become very attached to “that era” and it becomes their be all end all. The Smashing Pumpkins have so many different eras and shades of themselves that have created some very dominant ones for many fans. I will say that yes, there are certain favorites of mine but, a band like this, and so many other of their peers, have this ability to forever take you on a journey as they and you grow. The Smashing Pumpkins are definitely a band that will do just that. On the bands super deluxe version of the Siamese Dream anniversary edition, there is a DVD in there from a legendary show in the band’s hometown of Chicago, at the Metro. This is one hell of a show.
One of the best things about going back through a band’s catalog is finding all the things you forgot about. Over the last couple years, I’ve rediscovered my love for The Smashing Pumpkins, and through my journey, I keep finding so many wonderful gems. For example, in the deluxe edition of Pisces Iscariot, there are so many great songs on the bonus disc. This cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” was one I forgot about. It’s really a very cool cover with a different vibe, a la 90’s. The Type O Negative cover of this song is still the best but, the pumpkins sure do a damn good job with it.
It’s a shame music videos aren’t made like they used to be. Gone are the days of proper budgets to make a great video and the narratives that came along with the video have disappeared as well. Granted there are still a few directors out there that have been able to capture the essence of yesteryears. One video I will always remember fondly was for The Smashing Pumpkins song “1979.” Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Red Hot Chili Peppers), really honed in on what Billy Corgan wrote the song about and the end result was something beautiful. It’s also crazy to think that this video is now 22 years old. My head is spinning just thinking about that. Here’s a piece of cool trivia that you’d find interesting. The video for the song “Perfect” from their Unsung Masterpiece, Adore, is a sequel to the 1979 video, and involves the same characters who are now older.
Since it’s been 20 years since Smashing Pumpkins double album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness came out, I thought this would be a great topic for an album debate. Since it’s a double album the debate is between what disc you prefer. Disc 1 is entitled Dawn to Dusk and features classic like “Zero,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” and “Tonight, Tonight” along with some great deep cuts like “An Ode To No One,” “Jellybelly,” and “Muzzle.” This part of the album is heavier and filled with more rage. Disc 2 entitled Twilight To Starlight is loaded with songs that show a more mellow side of things. Songs like classics “1979,” and “Thirty-Three,” really set the tone of this side of the album. Other deep cuts like “XYU,” “Bodies,” “Where Boys Fear To Tread,” also give this side a kick in the teeth to break up the solemn mellowness.
I for one am a big fan of the album and depending on my mood it differs on which one I pick. I will say though that if I ha to pick one side, I would absolutely pick Disc 1: Dawn To Dusk. I just love the way the songs all flow into each other and the way that you can get so wrapped up in the angst but all the while there is a calming sense nestled in each song. Not to take anything away from Disc 2: Twilight To Starlight, which is an entirely different beast all on it’s own.
What side do you pick?
Smashing Pumpkins- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness:
I’ve had a very complicated relationship with The Smashing Pumpkins over the years. I go through phases when I think wow, This is great, and then on the other hand I think gosh I can’t stand this. Lately I’ve been back to wow, this is really great. So, with that in mind, I present you the album rank of Smashing Pumpkins albums from not their best to their best.