A Fan Of A Pumpkin That Smashes…

My love affair with the band known as The Smashing Pumpkins began in late 1995. One Sunday morning, whilst watching MTV, I see the video for Bullet With Butterfly Wings and I instantly fell in love with the song, recreating it in my mind hour after hour on that day. I recall even, after my bath that evening, shaking my wet hair to try and match that of Billy Corgan’s (the singer.) Over the next few weeks I set about renting, a number of times, the album that Bullet With Butterfly Wings was from — Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness — and once again, I fell in love with the album; a 2 disc masterpiece containing 28 songs, each one of them so different to what I’d ever heard before. I remember track one playing, a 3 minute piano and strings instrumental piece leading into the wonderful Tonight Tonight, followed by the heavy and chaotic Jellybelly, which then lead to the full-of-attitude, Zero.

Over the next 3–4 years, I would drive my family and friends mad with talk of The Smashing Pumpkins, constantly tuned into MTV hoping for a new single to be released. Bear in mind, I did not have Internet access at this point so it was not as straightforward as logging onto a Computer and linking to a music news website. I finally, over time, talked my Mum into buying me (when I discovered that there was more than one album) all of the bands’ albums; Gish, Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie…and Pisces Iscariot. I would listen to these albums non-stop, learning the words and the sounds of the music in my head. This was a new type of music to me and I was loving it. At this time, I did not buy or read music magazines so I had no idea what was happening with the band, all I knew was that I was desperate to hear new music from the band when, all of a sudden, after a quick uneventful tour of Blockbuster Video where I had come away with a copy of the Blockbuster Video magazine, I learnt that there was a new album to be released — Adore. In fact, by this point, the album had already been released. After school one day, and after driving my Mum insane with pleas to buy me the new album, I went to, I think, Our Price or MVC and purchased the brand new album which was very different to the previous four albums I had heard.

So, to review, up to 1998, The Smashing Pumpkins had released:

Gish (1991) — a mixture of grunge and shoegazing

Siamese Dream (1993) — I’d consider alternative rock (but critics would suggest it’s more poppy than that)

Pisces Iscariot (1994) — a b-sides and rarities album, quite grungey and alternative rock themed

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) — an eclectic mix of alternative rock, hard rock, soft rock, weird sounds (have no idea how to classify certain songs) and orchestral beauties.

Adore (1998) — almost synthpop and very ?gothic sounding in its delivery

Additionally to the above 5 albums, there was a box set called The Aeroplane Flies High which is all the singles and b-sides from the Mellon Collie album with a special booklet commemorating the band’s highs and lows plus a complete discography (I love a good list chronicling a band’s music and, the stress it gives me knowing that there is so much music I do not yet own, also questioning the band WHY DON’T YOU JUST INCLUDE THE SONGS ON A DAMN ALBUM?!)

At this time, I had no idea how dysfunctional the band was. I had no idea, until I saw an MTV documentary in 2000/2001. When I heard, through an interview in a music magazine in 2000 that the band were going to break up, I was crushed. I was extra crushed when my Mum told me I was not allowed to see the band during their farewell tour in the summer of 2001. I don’t think I was very kind to my Mum after that decision had been made. In 2000, Machina, the band’s last album, would be released. Obviously I purchased it on the day of release, got home, played it, loved it but it would grow to be bittersweet, I would never see the band perform in concert and I’ll never own the entire back catalogue of music.

Now, the band have continued in various guises since 2000. The lead, Billy Corgan, has continued to keep the band running with various different lineups and a number of albums and EP’s have been released since 2000. I’m going to skip over these because, that is not the true Pumpkins, although, after listening to a recent interview with the band, I now have hindsight that, actually, the period between 2000 and 2018 is a very important time frame for the band to continue to develop their music. I also did not appreciate, until now, that each album released from the start, did mark a different period in the band’s evolution. Listening as a mature fan, I now completely respect this point of view and have found a new adoration for the band.

In 2018, the band released an album called SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN. This was a significant album because it featured 3 out of the 4 original members back together since ?2001. I listened to the album and hated it. Listened to it this week and loved it. A few weeks ago, the band released a new single — Cyr — which I instantly loved. Again, so different from the music I first heard the band play but, knowing what I know now, an obvious natural progression.

If you have never heard the band, I implore you to check them out, from the start of their musical journey, my playlist for the band is below:

  1. I Am One (Gish)
  2. Siva (Gish)
  3. Geek USA (Siamese Dream)
  4. Today (Siamese Dream)
  5. Disarm (Siamese Dream)
  6. Mayonaise (Siamese Dream)
  7. Tonight, Tonight (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  8. Zero (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  9. Bullet With Butterfly Wings (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  10. An Ode To No One (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  11. Muzzle (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  12. Thirty-Three (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  13. 1979 (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  14. Stumbleine (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
  15. Ava Adore (Adore)
  16. Perfect (Adore)
  17. Shame (Adore)
  18. Heavy Metal Machine (Machina)
  19. The Everlasting Gaze (Machina)
  20. Stand Inside Your Love (Machina)

The above songs are meant as my recommendations for a few of the best Pumpkins’ songs. Beautiful, heartfelt, progressive. I hope you have enjoyed the above, an insight, from a personal perspective, of a band that truly changed my musical landscape canvas for the better.

Until next time….