Review by Jeff Becker from The Way That He Sings
Other Smashing Pumpkins reviews:
Article on the brief Machina 2 sale last year on eBay
The overall release of Siamese Dream Deluxe is scored a 10/10
CD1 – the original album
By 2013 it’s hard to find new words when discussing one landmark album that’s in a very tiny handful of the best rock albums of the 90’s. If Nirvana’s opening chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hadn’t grasped the entire nation the world would look back upon Siamese Dream (along with Pearl Jam’s Ten) as the signature albums that represented grunge at its peak and said an overdue goodbye (and door slam) to the glam rock era of the late 80’s (Whitesnake, Poison, etc).
Siamese Dream is as powerful now as it was in 1993 with no band since then able to replicate the wall of guitar sound that Corgan and producer Butch Vig pulled together. While playing the remastered version of the album what’s now most striking (when compared to albums such as Zeitgeist) is how Corgan was able to incorporate so many hooks into an album that had guitars coming at you from every conceivable angle. Who had time for melody? Well, Corgan did, and if you strip away the volume of guitars what you have are tiny pop gems that are almost nursery rhymes in their primal form – but reworked to set a landscape of sound that is still unmatched. Recent day impersonators (the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Amusement Parks on Fire) bleed out Siamese Dream in every track but don’t even scratch the surface of songs that leak melody like ‘Mayonaise’, ‘Hummer’ and ‘Luna’.
This deluxe reissue is a tour de force with top notch packaging, a full disc of Siamese-era rarities, and an outstanding DVD of a hometown performance from 1993. This album, along with Nevermind and The Bends may stand as the top three rock albums in the first half of the 90’s. What’s interesting is the direction that the Pumpkins took after 1993. As they prepped Mellon Collie, Nirvana self-destructed in the most tangible method possible and Pearl Jam decided to just get too strange for their fans. This left bands like the Pumpkins and Radiohead as the unofficial greatest bands in the world as the decade came to a close. Unfortunately for the Pumpkins, the dysfunction of the mid-90’s took its toll, but not before a series of remarkable albums (none better than Siamese Dream) became etched into our memory.
CD2 – unreleased material
1 Pissant (Rough Mix) – Skip it. Very close to the original version.
2 Siamese Dream (Broadway rehearsal demo) – Must own. Intense, more garage-based jam than anything on the original album.
3 STP (rehearsal demo) – Must own. Another heavy, intense garage style demo with Billy’s vocals buried deeper than normal in the mix.
4 Frail and Bedazzled (Soundworks demo) – Nice to have. Slightly longer but overall similar version (albeit instrumental) to the original.
5 Luna (apartment demo) – Must own. Lovely, and more sparse version than the original in pristine quality.
6 Quiet (BBC Session) (Billy Corgan 2011 mix) – Must own. Wouldn’t any high quality alternate version of the rocker be a must have? Absolutely.
7 Moleasskiss (Soundworks demo) – Must own. Fine Siamese outtake and clearly shows the wide gap between Siamese-era demos and the work that went into the finished original album that was so clean you could eat off of it.
8 Hello Kitty Kat (Soundworks demo) – Must own. Pumpkins lore rates this track higher than I do – great quality nonetheless and similar in style to the other outtakes presented here.
9 Today (Broadway rehearsal demo) – Nice to have. Mostly an early demo version of the classic, but it’s more interesting than enjoyable. Like why would anyone ever play this more than 3x when the original version should be in the Smithsonian?
10 Never Let Me Down Again (BBC session) – Must own. Sexier, groovier track than nearly anything in this timeframe.
11 Apathy’s Last Kiss (Rough Mix) – Skip. Great track but similar to the version on Still Becoming Apart.
12 Ache (Silverfuck/rehearsal demo) – Nice to have early demo version of Silverfuck. On the borderline of being a must have but not quite.
13 U.S.A (Soundworks demo) – Must own. Sounds like more Gish to me but very high quality and high-driving instrumental demo.
14 U.S.S.R. (Soundworks demo) – Nice to have. Brief, high quality below-average instrumental when compared to the other instrumentals on these reissues.
15 Spaceboy (acoustic mix) – Nice to have. Acoustic mix with what appears to be the original vocal track. Nothing groundbreaking here on this classic and beautiful song.
16 Rocket (rehearsal demo) – Must own. Nice early rehearsal in decent quality but the guitar melody hooks were already in place. Once again, demos like this truly showcase the shine of the original’s album versions.
17 Disarm (acoustic mix) – Same comments as above regarding Spaceboy.
18 Soma (instrumental mix) – Nice to have. Instrumental track from the original. Reminds you how beautiful of a track this is and is somewhat a staple of the nursery-rhyme style melodies that Corgan incorporated in the first three Pumpkins albums.
DVD – August 16, 1993 at the Metro, Chicago – live performance
1. Rocket (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
2. Quiet (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
3. Today (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
4. Rhinoceros (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
5. Geek U.S.A. (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
6. Soma (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
7. I am one (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
8. Disarm (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
9. Spaceboy (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
10. Starla (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
11. Cherub rock (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
12. Bury me (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
13. Hummer (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
14. Siva (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
15. Mayonaise (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
16. Drown (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
17. Silverfuck (Live At The Metro, Chicago, 8/14/93) [DVD]
This is the kind of DVD fans should expect. Outstanding quality and captured during a pivotal time of the Pumpkins skyrocketing growth. Best yet, it’s not stuck in the MTV-style editing of current times where there’s 18 camera angles and each glance is only for two seconds or less. There’s no distractions here. An extremely high energy hometown performance that includes a smiling, bouncing and jovial Corgan behind the mic and guitar for a ripping run through of every major early Pumpkins track in a show that runs just shy of 2 hours. The body-surfing Olympics taking place is a non-stop attraction as the crowd becomes as much a part of the show as the young band themselves.
The DVD is simply an outstanding addition to this deluxe set. If there’s a weakness to be found it’s in Corgan’s live voice, and that’s true even today. His ability to maintain top notch vocals during high energy performances in which he’s also playing lead guitar has never been his greatest thing. However, overall, this is a can’t-miss performance and certainly worthy of the quality of these reissues. If this DVD doesn’t satisfy the Siamese Dream deluxe reissue, what possibly could then other than 2 hours of studio footage recording the actual album?