What are the Smashing Pumpkins’ 10 best moments?
Since their inception in the dive bars of Chicago in 1989, the story of The Smashing Pumpkins has been a totally gripping one. Initially starting out as a darkwave duo, in love with The Cure and New Order, they rose from the clubs of Illinois to the biggest stages the world can offer. Their hard rock, marinated in a curious mixture of psychedelia, dark-electronica and offbeat folk, has won them a devoted fanbase and netted them career sales of well over 20 million records.
Now consisting just of iconic frontman Billy Corgan, with his bittersweet nasal delivery powering everything they do, and guitarist Jeff Schroeder, the band return with their 10th studio album Monuments To An Elegy on Monday (December 8th). It’s the middle section of their epic Teargarden by Kaleidoscope trilogy of albums and is full of classic Pumpkins moments, like the driving ‘Tiberius’ and the powerful ‘Being Beige’.
In celebration of their return, we thought we’d run the rule over their catalogue and pick out their absolute highlights. Here, to us, are the Smashing Pumpkins’ 10 best moments…
10. ‘The Everlasting Gaze’
2000’s Machina/The Machines Of God was a dark, awkward record, full of experimental soundscapes and doomy riffs. It’s highlight is the opening cut ‘The Everlasting Gaze’ with its Black Sabbath esque riff and driving melody, rocking very hard.
The Smashing Pumpkins’ first album Gish only hinted at the power and poise they would later be capable of, but it did have a few gems. ‘Siva’ is one of them, it’s more stepped in the classic rock of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple than the band’s later work, but has that trademark fuzz and ethereal melody.
After splitting in 2000, the band reunited in 2005 and went straight back out on the road. Well half the band did, Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain were back, long-time guitarist James Iha was nowhere to be seen, with both original bass player D’Arcy Wretsky and her replacement Melissa Auf Der Maur also not rejoining.
The resulting record Zeitgeist that followed didn’t match the majesty of the band’s earlier material, but did yield the bombastic single ‘Tarantula’, a soaring hard rocker with a gigantic chorus.
Fuzzy, offbeat, but full of charm and wonder, this is one of the highlights from the band’s flawless 1993 effort Siamese Dream.
6. ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’
Perhaps the Pumpkins’ most famous moment, this distinctly odd rock song remains a stone-cold classic. From the moment Corgan whispers “The world is a vampire…” into the microphone, you’re taken on a strange journey, one soundtracked by a demonic riff and a melody that just builds and builds…
Corgan’s finest riff, one that’s been copied and copied over and over again. Magnificent.
Ballads don’t come much better than this.
3. ‘Tonight, Tonight’
The band’s 28-track epic third album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is a sprawling, mixed bag, going from gentle piano elegies through to full-on hard rockers. This, though, is it’s highlight, a brooding track, underpinned by a gentle riff and backed by a rolling drumbeat and a swelling orchestral section, this track just soars and soars.
2. ‘Cherub Rock’
This song is the triumphant beginning to Siamese Dream and ranks as one of the all-time great opening tracks, with its gentle intro and slow-building riff, it gives way to a bulldozer of a track.
This is, without doubt, Corgan’s finest moment. Taken from the second disc on Mellon Collie, this is band’s at their most graceful, their most life-affirming and their most heartswelling. Unusually for the Pumpkins, this track is underscored by samples and electronics, but they’re used to give the track a lo-fi, swirly feel. It’s just glorious.
The Smashing Pumpkins' new album Monuments To An Elegy is released on Monday (December 8th).