C3X WORLD TOUR: WEEK THREE
SMASHING PUMPKINS 30TH ANNIVERSARY
After the breakup of his gothic rock band the Marked, singer and guitarist Billy Corgan left St. Petersburg, Florida, to return to his native city of Chicago, where he took a job in a record store and formed the idea of a new band to be called the Smashing Pumpkins. While working there, he met guitarist James Iha. Adorning themselves with paisley and other psychedelic trappings, the two began writing songs together (with the aid of a drum machine) that were heavily influenced by The Cure and New Order. The duo performed live for the first time on July 9, 1988 at the Polish bar Chicago 21. This performance included only Corgan on bass and Iha on guitar with a drum machine. Shortly thereafter, Corgan met D'arcy Wretzky after a show by the Dan Reed Network where they argued the merits of the band. After finding out Wretzky played bass guitar, Corgan recruited her into the lineup, and the trio played a show at the Avalon Nightclub. After this show, Cabaret Metro owner Joe Shanahan agreed to book the band on the condition that they replace the drum machine with a live drummer.
Jazz drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was recommended by a friend of Corgan's. Chamberlin knew little of alternative music and immediately changed the sound of the nascent band. As Corgan recalled of the period, "We were completely into the sad-rock, Cure kind of thing. It took about two or three practices before I realized that the power in his playing was something that enabled us to rock harder than we could ever have imagined." On October 5, 1988, the complete band took the stage for the first time at the Cabaret Metro.
In celebration of the exact 30th anniversary of the band, I set out to create a career-spanning pack. I was even further driven to do so after I saw the band during this year's 'Shiny and Oh So Bright' reunion tour. These are some choice picks; no album is repeated except for the two new singles from this year. Included is a song for every possible difficulty rating on drums.
From the venue that both started and ended the initial run of the Smashing Pumpkins, here they are!
This song just breathes Gish. After all, it was recorded during the same sessions. One of the best overall drum picks in this pack. Oh, and there's some guitar solos.
Not gonna lie, the first time I heard this song was on the 2012 Pisces Iscariot remaster. This is another song to come from the Gish sessions. Don't let the silly voice answering machine ending fool you, you'll be pulled in with the one-time chorus hook. It's been said that the voice of Jesus leaving a message on Billy's answering machine is actually the pitch shifted voice of Jimmy Chamberlin!
AKA Electric Version! Finally, a Disarm that is fun for drummers. This audio was taken from the band's live English TV performance on The Word in 1993. If you are familiar with the TV performance, you may recognize that the venue (camera cuts and all) has been replicated in-game! Credits to Septekka for doing guitar and vocals.
The slow tempo groove provides a ground for Billy Corgan to give an emotional vocal performance. With a nod to The Beatles in the closing refrain, "Hello, goodbye/You know you made us cry", one can't help but hear Corgan's distress from losing his mother.
Guitar and bass players will have their fingers moving on this one. Is this heavy metal? The riff would imply so, but the chorus pulls you out of the nitty-gritty only to throw you back in again.
A slow tempo song with busy charts and quite a long guitar solo to boot. I started charting keys for this song only to find that they faded into obscurity later on. Faced with scrapping them or charting inaccurately, I chose the former.
My favorite thing about this track is that it uses the original studio vocal takes from Siamese Dream. Because of this, it has the dreaminess of the original despite being stripped down.
The second single from Zeitgeist and my second favorite post-reunion song overall. The song starts with two bars of drums before you are hit with a massive wall of sound. I get chills nearly every time I hear the last two notes of the guitar solo ring out. For bass players, this is easily my most favorite pick of the pack.
The first single from Oceania. So many tone changes throughout.
The second single from Monuments. Who is that on the drums? Oh, it's Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee. That main riff could just play forever.
When I first heard this song, I was honestly disappointed. The muted chugging of the guitar and the compressed drums (thanks, Rick Rubin) during the beginning are simply not inviting; however, the more I've listened, the more layers I have realized. Drummers beware, Chamberlin lays it down during the choruses—there's even a drum solo!
As opposed to Solara, I instantly appreciated this song. The guitar leads absolutely make it what it is, and the guitar solo elevates it a great deal.
At 129 songs, Smashing Pumpkins have now passed Chicago and Weezer. Rush is next.
Thanks for stopping by and see you next week!