22 Years Ago: Smashing Pumpkins Release One of the Best Albums of the ’90s, ‘Siamese Dream’
This year, we took a closer look at Smashing Pumpkins' complete catalog and ranked it Worst to First. Today, July 27, we honor our No. 1 pick in the Pumpkins' discography, Siamese Dream, on its anniversary by revisiting Senior Editor Tim Karan's reasoning for placing the album at the top. You can find our complete Worst to First ranking at the bottom of this story.
If you ever find yourself searching for an example of how friction and emotional turmoil can lead to musical brilliance, look no further than Siamese Dream.
Recorded with Butch Vig during four months in Georgia and $250,000 over-budget, the Pumpkins' major label debut nearly ripped the band apart. Iha and Wretzky were in the midst of a painful breakup, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin's drug addiction had become so bad that it prompted the decision to record far from his dealers and Corgan (already battling severe depression) wound up playing nearly all of the guitar and bass (reportedly at Vig's prompting), creating even more resentment.
But Siamese Dream was a massive success right out of the gate, debuting at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the revelatory single "Today" and immediately secured Smashing Pumpkins' place atop the modern rock world.
Completely counter to the aesthetics and structure of grunge, Siamese Dream is aggressively ornate. Layered with walls of crashing sound, laced with soaring guitar solos and more prog than punk, it's both triumphant ("Cherub Rock," "Rocket") and beautifully crafted ("Disarm," "Soma").
It isn't only the most essential album in the Smashing Pumpkins catalog, it's easily one of the top five most important albums of the '90s.