Still on a grunge kick, here’s another classic of the genre that everyone owned (with the probable exception of our infernal HMO), at one point or another…
Playing this 1993 record now, in 2017, I still knew every word and what came next in every song. Rather than that being boring, though, it was like being with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. The good kind, with whom you can just pick right up and it’s like no time has elapsed at all. Damn, we played the hell out of this CD, back in the day! I even learned how to play Disarm and Today on the guitar. Bet I could still do it now.
I had vague memories of (at one time) thinking that this album was over-produced, that it was so fixed up that the sound was brittle. This time through, I didn’t notice at all. So, either my memory is faulty, or I thought that way at the time but didn’t this time around? Cool story, bro… Anyway.
What struck me most was just how fuckin’ heavy this all was… I hadn’t remembered. There are guitars all over this damn thing, and they’re crunchy as hell, the bass is massive, and the drums are pounding… Turn it up in the good headphones, it’s a huge, passionate sound. Whoa.
A pure classic of its era, and another damn-near-perfect, very satisfying album.
Tracks: Cherub Rock / Quiet / Today / Hummer / Rocket / Disarm / Soma / Geek U.S.A. / Mayonaise / Spaceboy / Silverfuck / Sweet Sweet / Luna
The truth of the mattter is that Smashing Pumpkins were a group of talented musicians who made interesting and challenging music that perfectly fit their times. Whatever you may think of them, it’s pretty hard to not concede at least this point.
There was something unearthly about them, which I pin mostly on Billy Corgans’ voice. It was harsh and nasal, yet smooth at the same time. Further, his inventive guitar work is still amazing to me now, listening to this retrospective of their varied and short career. It’s no wonder guitar magazines held him up as a modern six-string savant every once in a while. And the rest of the band were definitely not slouches either. Nope, no way. It all worked for them, and it sold a kajillion records. Way to go. They must have been awesome to see live (sadly, I never got the chance).
By these few words so far, you’ll have gathered that I was (and still sometimes am) a fan. Owning up, then, I have all the albums and most of the singles. So yeah, that is pretty telling right there. I couldn’t listen to them all the time even then, though, and I still can’t now. But every once in a while they’re the only thing that works for me, and this hits collection is perfect for those moments of need.
As these songs play, I’m again drawn to the lyrics, which always sounded more to me like poetry put to music than song-lyrics… if that makes any sense to you at all. And the hooks! It’s one after the other, endlessly. No wonder radio loved them for so long. Even your Mom could toe-tap in the dentists’ waiting room to some of the more accessible tracks here. Of course, these are balanced by the heavier, darker tunes we all knew and loved at the time (and which made them definite products of their era). Admittedly, by the time they reached their later records, it was over. But what a run they had!
All the hits are here (and a couple of new tracks too). If you were a sometimes fan then, and can’t be arsed to hunt down all of their releases, this disc will have all of the songs you like (and a few you may not have heard that are just as worthy of your attention). Interesting that it’s set up as a chronological collection. Only more serious fans would know the stuff from Gish, so if they were trying to sell it as a stand-alone disc, it might have made more sense to put the bigger hits up front and to bury the (still great) early tracks further along in the disc. Oh, it doesn’t matter to me, but I’ll bet the casual fan skips the first couple of tracks to get to the stuff they heard ad nauseum back in the day. To each their own. I say Turn It Up!
Oh, and as far as the recent talk of a reunion and a new record, I say fine. But I’m not likely to run out and buy it right away. As I said, they were of their time, and getting the band back together is not always the best idea. Still, it couldn’t be all bad… could it?