Excluding, of course, their seminal work in the ’90s, The Smashing Pumpkins’ discography is not always a catalogue that gets the respect it deserves – there are records that have either been massively slept on, dismissed or even loathed at the time of their release. .
Ranking: Every Smashing Pumpkins Album from Worst to Best
Equal thanks goes to Metro Cabaret owner Joe Shanahan, whose insistence that the band find a drummer led to the discovery and recruitment of jazz percussionist Jimmy Chamberlin.Controversy, chaos, conflict, and corruption strangled the band’s foundation for years: from the hellish recording sessions behind 1993’s Siamese Dream, to the bitter spats with an indie Rolodex of Pavement, Steve Albini, and Bob Mould, and eventually to the tragedies surrounding Chamberlin’s dark, druggy days amidst 1998’s Adore.Although we’ll never get a true-blue reunion — sorry, D’arcy Wretzky — the current lineup of Billy, Jimmy, James Iha, and Jeff Schroeder comes pretty damn close.Sadly, that means no B-sides compilations like Pisces Iscariot, The Aeroplane Flies High, or Judas O, and certainly not their expansive selection of EPs as varied as Lull, American Gothic, or both Teargarden releases. .
Smashing Pumpkins Albums Ranked
After their split, Corgan tried out different projects before reclaiming the Smashing Pumpkins name and the latter portion of the band's career found the singer and his new cohorts attempting to create vital music and re-establish themselves beyond the shadow of the first-era lineup. .
Smashing Pumpkins – Rank The Albums
Combining the brawn of American alternative rock and the soft underbelly of the UK shoegazer movement, Smashing Pumpkins miraculously managed to bridge and then transcend both, and for a few brief, shining moments, they enjoyed as much artistic credibility as they did commercial success.After this aimless atrocity, Jimmy Chamberlin, the sole remaining member of the original line-up, apparently decided enough was enough, firing a none-too-subtle shot at Corgan in announcing his 2009 departure: “I can no longer commit all of my energy into something that I don’t fully possess.” Oomph.True, the album features some of Corgan’s most aggressive and dazzling guitar work in a decade, but the pyrotechnics are rarely in service of memorable songs.Worse, Corgan’s vocals, never a particularly strong draw, have been pushed to the forefront, as if the 30-second a cappella interlude on ‘The Everlasting Gaze’ was a high water mark in the Pumpkins catalogue.Arriving at electronic music’s pre-dubstep zenith when acts like The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method were anointed as saviours-to-be, ‘Adore’ is the sound of a band confused and experimenting in ways that rarely play to Corgan’s strengths as a songwriter.Though frequently cited as his most personal record (‘For Martha’ was a tribute to his late mother), the album’s programmed beats and instrumental patchwork make for an oddly detached, off-putting listen.Not so much a proper release as a giant extended middle finger in the direction of their record label, Machina II is a deliberately messy affair.Like ‘Mellon Collie’, an album it’s transparently modeled after in both structure and scope, Machina is wildly uneven, but it’s redeemed by a handful of brilliant tracks.‘Today’, ‘Rocket’, ‘Disarm’, ‘Cherub Rock’ – ‘Siamese Dream’ is not their greatest hits record, but if there are people out there who prefer listening to ‘Rotten Apples’, they’re probably not worth knowing.No matter how batty Corgan gets – railing against pop stars like Britney Spears, lashing out at former band members, or promoting various wrestling matches – for this album alone, he has forever earned the right to his eccentricities. .
Readers' Poll: The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs
The record is the latest entry in the band's sprawling discography, which includes everything from double-disc epics and rarities box sets to concept albums, EPs and assorted free MP3s. .
Smashing Pumpkins Albums From Worst To Best
Not in the sense that many bands are — the weird, artsy, pained kids who find an outlet by playing loud rock music.And, throughout, he was always interested in the band’s look, cultivating a kind of goth-glam mix through the mid and late-’90s, at times almost playing rock star characters.Corgan hatched his band and then met people in the most expected ways, only needing the mythic entrance of a distinct drummer to make things fall into place.Jimmy Chamberlin was the final member to join, and his muscular style convinced Corgan to pursue a more aggressive direction musically.But there’s something about the Smashing Pumpkins that seemed a perfect, unreal depiction of what a rock band was supposed to be in a time where the other major artists bristled against it.Once the Smashing Pumpkins became everything a rock band could imaginably be by releasing a sprawling double-album as their third record, just four years in, there wasn’t really anywhere for them to go but down a slow path of disintegration.Which makes sense, on one hand, as it was undoubtedly their peak, and it’s the music of theirs that you could most easily identify as being influential on recent indie artists.Pisces Iscariot is a collection of b-sides, but it’s a crucial entry in their catalog; the transitional phase of Teargarden By Kaleidyscope was left unfinished, but still seems important to note; MACHINA II was released for free on the internet in 2000, an album with a much lower profile and no official commercial release, but is one that many fans hold in high regard. .
Smashing Pumpkins Albums: Which One Is the Best?
In the words of SPIN‘s own Jim Greer, “[frontman Billy] Corgan, and by extension Smashing Pumpkins, is a potent mass of freely admitted contradictions.” Their catalogue is filled with stylistic pivots and left turns, near-impossible highs and unfortunate experiments in mediocrity. .
The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs, Ranked
For people of my vintage, there are few alt-rock records that loom larger over our adolescent memories than 1993’s Siamese Dream and 1995’s Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.The fact that he’s also one of the greatest and most prolific rock songwriters of his generation is also part of the deal; at his best, few of his peers in the ’90s were as good at combining melody with gut-level riffage.There was no question in my mind that this survey of the Pumpkins had to begin here, as “Pastichio Medley” explains who this band is more accurately than any of their many hits.I think all Smashing Pumpkins fans do, particularly the ones who grew up in down-market Middle American towns and never managed to fit in once they moved to the big city.But most people likely heard it as part of The Aeroplane Flies High, the five-disc box set that compiled all of the Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie era singles, which came out later that fall.A spliced-together litany of more than 50 guitar riffs and jams recorded in the space between Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie, it unfolds like side two of Abbey Road if Paul McCartney had grown up listening to Bauhaus and Judas Priest.“Daphne Descends” (1998) Billy Corgan was such a genius that, years in advance, he could foresee his own artistic and commercial decline, sort of.Billy had another flex in mind — he was going to push the Pumpkins past rock and toward electro-pop and symphonic folk, and put himself in the company of other masters of self-reinvention like Bowie and Lou Reed and U2.“Cash Car Star” (2000) Pumpkins-ologists will inevitably chart the beginning of the band’s decline slightly before Adore, with the firing of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin in 1996.In the wake of Adore barely going platinum — after Mellon Collie moved 10 million units, making it one of the best-selling double albums of all time — Chamberlin was swiftly welcomed back into the fold.The Pumpkins then desperately tried to reboot as a high-powered mojo rock band on two sprawling albums, the second of which, Machina II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music, was given away for free and included this punchy showcase for Jimmy Chamberlin playing extremely Jimmy Chamberlin drums.Whereas the bulk of Adore uses the wistful “1979” as a starting point, “Stand Inside Your Love” evokes a Frankenstein monster of the Pumpkins’ guitar-dominated hits — the melodic crunch of “Today,” the soaring chorus of “Tonight, Tonight,” the romantic alienation of “Disarm.” It’s a good tune, but it mostly makes me think about how much the rock world changed from the peak of the Pumpkins to the dawn of the new century, when Limp Bizkit and then Linkin Park ruled rock radio and made alternative music a distant memory.In just five short years, the Pumpkins became classic rock, and “Stand Inside Your Love” (as nice as it is) had all of the contemporary relevance of a late-period Grand Funk Railroad single.Those warhorses released between 1993 and ’95, along with the greatest hits of the Chili Peppers and Green Day, represent the most durable oldies to get regular spins between the modern-day sludge turned out by Twenty One Pilots and Five Finger Death Punch.In a way, he’s spent the past quarter-century trying to live up to the boasts he made on the Mellon Collie press cycle, the ones about fearlessly pushing his music (and the culture) forward.I saw his post-Pumpkins sorta-supergroup Zwan play a half-empty gym at a college outside of Green Bay, Wis. in 2003 and felt intense secondhand embarrassment.Then, a few years after releasing the single most unlistenable Smashing Pumpkins album ever, Zeitgeist, he gave a bitter interview to Rolling Stone in 2010 in which he ripped his long-gone bandmates Chamberlin and Iha and complained about how poorly the industry had treated him.Culled from a suitably ambitious 44-song online project dubbed Teargarden By Kaleidyscope, 2012’s Oceania found him once again operating in songwriting factory mode, and his penchant for over-imbibing musically once again fueled his talent for writing pummeling pop-metal ear candy.This time it’s Billy nodding to the Adore era, only now he doesn’t have that “wearing a black cowboy hat on Charlie Rose“-level of bravado.Crafting pretty synth-pop anthems that a billion people blast on their laptops is a skill perched firmly within his wheelhouse.His songwriting contributions over the years are minimal but not unimportant — his co-writes on two of Siamese Dream‘s dreamiest tracks, “Soma” and “Mayonnaise,” will get their shout-outs later on this list.“Stylistically appropriate for the current college party scene, but ultimately insignificant.” Now, the fact that I’m here now writing way too many words about the Pumpkins disproves Albini.But on Gish, they also veered deep into vibe-y psych rock, doubling down on their dorky “stoned suburban kids” image.You control the band to the extent that most people think of Smashing Pumpkins as the Billy Corgan Experience, and all you care about is some photography?” “But I hate it,” Corgan says, “it means they don’t think I’m the cute one.” Remember that Kim Thayil is a burly mountain man who was once in a band with Chris Cornell.“Daydream” (1991) What Gold doesn’t note in his Spin article — because it wasn’t as obvious in the mid-’90s as it is now — is that Corgan has long relished playing the heel, a role that seems both forced upon him by all his early skeptics and a product of his naturally combative personality.Corgan’s innate heel-ness didn’t become readily apparent until he started running his own wrestling league in the 2010s, which is sort of like Liam Gallagher deciding in middle age to open a cocaine factory.In 2018, on the eve of a reunion tour, she leaked text messages that Billy had sent her, in which he hinted (probably correctly) that D’arcy (who was retired from music and living in rural Michigan) wouldn’t be able to do more than a brief cameo in which she sang this song from Gish.“God” (1996) Here’s something that seems like an example of Billy Corgan trolling us but (I think) is actually a sincere project: The mammoth “spiritual memoir” he’s presumably still writing, and was reported to be more than 1,000 pages long back in 2016.A treatise on Corgan’s concept of “mind-body-soul integration,” the book is supposedly about how “most of what I have experienced in my life isn’t real,” which sounds amazing.Though I suspect that Billy’s spiritual perspective is better summed up by this song: “God know I’m restless and weak and full of piss and vinegar.”.“Hello Kitty Kat” (1994) A fine example of the Pumpkins building a wall of guitars and laying a sparkling guitar line on top of it, a trick that Corgan learned from listening to ’70s six-string technicians like Queen’s Brian May and Boston’s Tom Scholz, who paved the way for Billy to become an overdub fiend two decades later.Fun fact: I started listening to Boston seriously as a teenager because a snarky rock critic disparagingly compared Siamese Dream to “More Than A Feeling.” I took the putdown as a compliment, because it absolutely deserved to be taken that way.“Tristessa” (1991) The first Smashing Pumpkins single, which goes to show that Corgan had the formula down from the start of their career — the wall of sound cut with a sparkling guitar, Jimmy Chamberlin’s jazzy drum rolls, the poppy chorus, Billy’s insistent whine.Later re-recorded for Gish, the original single predates Nevermind, and sounds more like a rougher version of Queensryche than grunge.Twenty years after this song was released, Corgan claimed, “I can’t think of any people outside of Weird Al Yankovic who have both embraced and pissed on rock more than I have.Not in the world I grew up in.” Radiohead wasn’t famous yet when this song dropped, but Billy was definitely already worshipping Ritchie Blackmore.“Snail” (1991) Because of what came after, Gish is typically regarded as a dry run for the heights of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie.Respect must also be paid to Butch Vig, who made this album before working on Nevermind, and then returned to the Pumpkins fold to make Siamese Dream.In the early ’90s, Fleetwood Mac had not yet been rehabilitated as an eternally hip legacy act, so putting a Stevie Nicks ballad on your alt-rock record was another example of Billy embracing and pissing on rock history.But instead of “Landslide,” I went with the softest single from Mellon Collie, which has a slightly wasted, spacey, and wistful vibe that’s reminiscent of the Mac’s own double-album opus, Tusk.Though instead of evoking the coke-fueled exhaustion of Los Angeles in the late ’70s, Corgan captures the simple joy of settling down as a newly minted rock star in mid-’90s Chicago: “I’ll make the effort, love can last forever.” That the love didn’t last forever in this case only makes the song prettier and more Mac-like.I particularly love the part that kicks in around the two-minute mark where Jimmy does one of his atomic drum rolls and the music zooms into Billy’s wicked Eddie Van Halen-style guitar solo.“Pug” (1998) “I recently interviewed Eddie Van Halen for Guitar World,” Corgan told Rolling Stone in 1996.Even though they were fucking cool and looked good and everybody wanted to be them, there was still that element of, hey, everybody can join the party.” He contrasted that attitude with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, who Corgan claimed “once said some horrible thing about having to play to the jock in Iowa” “I always think about that quote,” he said, “because that jock in Iowa needs someone like Kim Gordon to say there’s a better world out there, that just because you’ve grown up with this mentality doesn’t mean you have to be this mentality.” The Smashing Pumpkins lost a lot of the jock audience they earned with Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie in the wake of Adore, though I wonder if things might have turned out differently if they had put out this evil goth stomper as a single.It’s the one song on Adore that could’ve been remixed for MTV to include a verse from Jonathan Davis spitting out animal noises over Billy’s spooky-guy croon.While the actual song is a muscular synth-rock banger that adds considerable oomph to the “1979” template, the iconography here was overblown and out-of-touch in the context of all the Adidas-wearing rap-rock mooks storming the MTV castle in the summer of 1998.“Mouths Of Babes” (1996) Yet another classic B-side from the “Zero” CD single, which in the annals of ’90s alt-rock history has only two rivals when it comes to CD singles: 1) Oasis’ “Cigarettes And Alcohol,” which includes the incredible B-sides “Listen Up,” “Fadeaway,” and the tripped-out cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”; 2) Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” which has the radio remix of the title song that stomps the album cut, “Footsteps,” and, of course, “Yellow Ledbetter.” Pearl Jam might have the edge because “Yellow Ledbetter” is the best B-side by anybody from this era, but Smashing Pumpkins really piled on the neo-glam stompers on “Zero,” of which “Mouths Of Babes” is one of the very best.Mellon Collie is also the peak of the Pumpkins’ mountain in terms of their popularity, their productivity, and their prominence in music culture.“Geek U.S.A.” is in the lower half of Siamese Dream‘s power rankings — like I said, I put eight songs from that album ahead of it, and it still absolutely rips.“Thru The Eyes Of Ruby” (1995) I shared the clip above because 1) I’m genuinely curious if James Corden has ever listened to an entire Smashing Pumpkins song and 2) I think it illustrates an essential truth of this band, which is that the members are not friends.Corgan has admitted that this dynamic troubled him during the Siamese Dream sessions, when he gave his bandmates a year and a half to prepare and they failed to step up.And that put a pressure on them that just wasn’t realistic.” What matters is the musical chemistry that occurs when they plug in and blast away together in a room, which is one of the strengths of the relatively collaborative Mellon Collie.Even on a prog epic like this song, there’s a brutal efficiency to the Pumpkins that functions about as well as any dysfunctional small business.The heaviest number from Mellon Collie‘s blue disc, “Bodies” also has a sentiment at its core worthy of Johnny Rotten: “Love is suicide.” Clearly, Billy had not yet embraced the “mind-body-soul integration” concept in the mid-’90s.“Zero” The thing about listening to Mellon Collie so much as I wrote this list is that it reminded me how relatively few bands actually write riffs anymore.He introduced the guise in the “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” video, which kicked off the massive Mellon Collie album cycle.“Bullet” was also the final video of the “Billy has hair” years, so there seems to be a connection between wearing an on-the-nose shirt and actually resembling a full-on pale and bald-headed zero.“Appels And Oranjes” (1998) I’ve come to believe via anecdotal evidence that Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie have translated as well to younger generations as any music from the alt-rock era.I suspect this is due to how good and timeless those records sound, as well as Corgan’s underrated pop sense, which can put those songs over even for audiences who don’t normally listen to a lot of guitar music.This song resembles the countless attempts I’ve heard in recent years to emulate ’80s synth-pop acts like New Order and Depeche Mode, except it’s way better than nearly all of them.For all of the comparisons that Corgan himself has made between his band and Cheap Trick, this is the closest he’s come to making a song that would fit on In Color.But the Pumpkins earn every second of that, turning on a dime between spacey interludes and explosive guitar symphonies with the dexterity of Fragile-era Yes.This track also spotlights how well the Pumpkins used quiet in this era — all of their long songs feature extended sections that appear to drift into the ether before suddenly snapping back into focus.— the sound of “Mayonaise” evokes the comforting blandness of growing up in a thoroughly mediocre and nondescript Midwestern community.It’s a comforting blandness that I know quite well, and it’s layered with my own experience of listening to Siamese Dream so damn much when I was in the midst of my own “Mayonaise” years.Even when Corgan is complaining about his childhood — “Time heals but I’m forever broken” — there’s a sense that he misses feeling young and lonely and depressed.He was pretty much describing my contemporary life but he somehow made me feel preemptive nostalgia for things that were currently happening to me, even though I was aware (as was Billy) that teenaged existence is mostly terrible.While even the superstar acts on that soundtrack — Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains — pledged fealty to punk and indie rock, no matter their far-removed status from the underground, the Pumpkins were refreshingly frank and direct about their arena-rock ambitions.“Rhinoceros” (1991) After the Singles soundtrack I backtracked and bought Gish on cassette, and this immediately became my favorite song on the record.That the Pumpkins executed more accomplished variations on this formula on future records hasn’t diluted my love of “Rhinoceros.” I recognize that “Soma” might technically be a better re-write, but I like this song a little bit more.I blasted it in the car the other day as research for this column, and the part at 6:45 when the band comes crashing back in so overwhelmed my speakers that I briefly entered a psychedelic netherworld where I was chased to my death by Billy’s 5,000 overdubbed guitars and Jimmy’s militaristic thrashing.If Billy had known that headline writers would refer to him regularly as the rat in a cage in spite of all his rage, perhaps he would’ve reconsidered the lyric.It belongs in a continuum with songs like “Rhinoceros” and “Soma,” in that it’s a slow burner that builds to the requisite ripping guitar solo, which arrives at the 5:38 mark.“Rocket” (1993) The fourth and final single from Siamese Dream, and part of the murderer’s row of stone killers that make up the first half of the record.By the time it was being played non-stop on MTV, Kurt Cobain was dead and the inevitability of the Pumpkins’ rise to prominence was clear for all to see.“Hummer” (1993) It’s hard to believe that Billy Corgan — who can’t get out of bed without plotting a new double or triple album — ever had writer’s block.