Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ultimate Album #20 (Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream)

After 84 votes have been counted, we've come to the results of our 20th album to be included in the Ultimate Albums tournament here on station to station. Here's how the rundown on voting and eligibility goes. The albums included on this ballot were taken from our Top Albums Of All Time Polls that have been on station to station over the past couple of years. They're still in progress but over half way through now. So I figured, let's get the ball rolling as those polls continue (every 3 weeks there's a new one). Next, I took the albums that did well in those polls (the top 11-17 albums each year...sounded like a fair number of albums) and seeded them according to Acclaimed Music's Top Albums.

The Final Tally For 12 Albums Are Added From:
1) The panel here on station to station (12 ballots)
2) Sodahead Poll (22 Votes Total)
3) Rate Your Music Forum Poll (50 Votes Total)
(the tallies are at the bottom of this post)

The current album poll is for ALBUM # 24 on the side panel of the blog (Also on Rate Your Music Forum and Sodahead as well). Along with the year 2009!

For Album #20, I did a Q & A with old cohort Jon who I spent quite a few memorable days and nights playing various sports with, dipping into the jukebox at the Overstreet on many a night and, well, whatever we could find to keep busy in the mid 90's. "Siamese Dream" is a fitting album in that it was one of the many soundtracks to this time twenty odd years ago. If I remember correctly, while the Pumpkins were hitting big in the summer of 94, we underwent an impromptu sojourn to Cleveland to see Duran Duran with Terence Trent D'Arby around this time. But that's another story for another day.
In the meantime, thanks to Jon for taking the time to go back and revisit our Ultimate Album #20 which just squeaked by Eat A Peach (which that would have been an interesting memory road trip too). Along with Bill and JPOP, we felt Siamese Dream was the strongest of this dozen and now it gets inducted into the Ultimate Albums competition.
JHO: So Siamese Dream took home the Gold for Ultimate Album #20. Where would you rank it in the Pumpkins catalogue. Tops? Or do you think there's another standout that gets foreshadowed by their breakthrough album?

JB: I think both commercially, critically and personally Siamese Dream ranks a shaky SECOND IN THE Smashing Pumpkins catalog solidly behind Mellon Collie and slightly ahead of the debut LP Gish.

JHO: What's your first memories of hearing Siamese Dream? Was their a time and place where it hit you these guys were catching on?

JB: Well i seem to remember Cherub Rock being a BIG MTV 120 minutes or alt nation single, this happened to be around the time i was singing in band with George, Arlie, and Jim that mainly consisted of George and i learning tons of songs that would never be done by the band BUT George LOVED GISH and was all over Siamese Dream.  I remember buying it fairly quickly before the Ice Cream Truck video anyway. I thought when the video for Today came out that the band was heading to mainstream success.

JHO: I remember washing dishes at a country club up in McDonald PA in the summer Siamese Dream was released. One of the other dishwashers who was totally into grunge at the time couldn't get over how much he liked Siamese Dream (Quiet was his groove). But looking back they were different than grunge from Seattle in so many ways. What set them apart from the onslaught of Grunge music in 1993-94? Were people already looking for another alternative to the alternative that hit massively?

JB: Though very 'grungy' i didn't really feel that SP were a grunge band.  They were marketed similarly to Nirvana with the heavy guitar riffs (Cherub/TeenSpirit) then pop hook (ComeAsYouAre/Today) then alarming introspective ballads (Lithium/Disarm) and back to contained rage (Lithium/Rocket).  That i believe would be the record companies doing and not the bands.  The band obviously was influenced by what was going on at the time but maybe Corgan is too diverse to be called grunge. Whether or not i am seeing that clearer in hindsight or not, i don't believe that i ever thought of MCIS as a grunge. The SP seemed to be more diverse than the other grunge bands and i think that people gravitated to Cobain because of the honesty he seemed to bring not just the distortion and people are always looking for that type of thing.

JHO: The opening 40 seconds of "Cherub Rock" stands among my favorite opening salvos of 90's rock albums. Can you find another comparison or does it stand alone in its rockness?

JB: There are not many that come to mind…  Teen Spirit, We Die Young, Them Bones or Once… don't really have the girth… i would have to say those aren't quite the massive Pink Floyd like intros that Cherub Rock is if anyone stands above it to me (off the top of my head) it would be Mellon Collie from MCIS, an instrumental. 

JHO: Corgan is a control freak. There's no doubt about that. Time has shown this with multiple lineups. He basically recorded everything on the album except drums in which Jimmy Chamberlin (when he was present and not strung out on drugs) provided a great backbeat. How important was Chamberlin and Butch Vig to Siamese Dream since that combo wasn't seen on albums that followed? Would they have created something as great again with the two in tow? 

JB: Nah, He overdubbed everything adding layers and layers but as far as the band goes-- he knew what he wanted and took it-- he just didn't have the chops on the drums to do it to Chamberlin who could have been replaced by another drummer if things were different.  I think Vig contributed to the trajectory of the band, some of Corgans' sound wouldn't have been so easily accepted by the label if not for Vig's involvement but even Vig would say Corgan knew what he wanted to do.

JHO: When Zwan formed for a one off, did you find yourself having "Siamese Dream" nostalgia"?

JB: I have NOT relistened to Zwan for the purposes of this project, i do own it and bought it at release.  I always thought of it as a SP record but if i remember correctly the distortion that may be the 'Sound' of the SP… well it was dulled and polished a little to show a difference between bands it was more 1979 than Zero. I did like it but don't revisit it specifically too much.

JHO: After seeing the "Today" video for the first time, did you really want to go out and purchase an ice cream truck?
JB: Yes, still might...

JHO: Tie in a Follansbee story from the mid-90's to a Siamese Dream song. It can be fictional or non-fictional...I don't care. Entertain it.

JB: Well i remember learning many songs on this album with George…  Disarm, i believe the only one we played out live.  We would 'invade' jam nights or open mic nights that would let us play 20-25 minutes during their breaks or whatever… well one night at the Club Sands we had 20 minutes. These jam nights were polluted with old country and/or Hair Metal bands while we were trying to be 'the punks' and play The Ramones, The Cure, Sex Pistols, REM, The Cars, and well Disarm.  Well i sang with my back to the crowd to be able to make eye contact with the guys and we were ripping thru our stuff planning to close with Disarm.  When we finished Disarm the look on this old crowds face was something like 'what the heck was that? We don't Understand…' at which upon time the mc said to do 1 more, i looked at George and said 'Any Ideas…' to which he responded to with the 'Talk Dirty To Me Riff' the crowd went crazy after doing that song we never played as that 4 piece again… we were be forced to do Poison and died. 

JHO: Where does Siamese Dream stand looking back at all of the 90's alt-rock releases. Top of the class or consistently getting a B+ despite having the prowess to be an A student?

JB: I would put it right up there at the top maybe an A- i think the enormity of MCIS as a double LP gets an AA and that might overshadow it's older sibling in the longview.

JHO: Were the Pumpkins really the next Nirvana as they were hyped in 93 or were they better?

JB: Well they were a different Nirvana and i think if you play the 'VS Band@TM' game that i haven't invented yet that a Nirvana Vs Pumpkins matchup could in theory go either way depending on the mood.  Most of the time… Gish beats Bleach <> Siamese vs Nevermind is closer than most would think <> and Mellon Collie beats In Utero… But we didn't get to watch Kurt struggle his legacy in the same way we still get to see Corgan so Nirvana has more of a Pureness to their legacy. Still waiting for the Pumpkins Unplugged LP too.
JB: Thanks for opportunity to revisit this important album real a seminal landmark in most of our lifetimes. 
Final Tallies (84 Votes Total):
 Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream (1993) 17 points (20.2%)
The Allman Brothers Band-Eat A Peach (1972) 14 points (16.7%)
Neutral Milk Hotel-In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998) 11 points (13.1%)

Peter Gabriel-Peter Gabriel (III) (1980) 11 points (13.1%)
Van Morrison-Astral Weeks (1968) 9 points (10.7%)
Tool-10,000 Days (2006) 6 Points (7.1%)
The Breeders-Last Spalsh (1993) 6 points (7.1%)
 N.W.A.-Straight Outta Compton (1988) 5 points (6.0%)
X-Under The Black Sun (1982) 3 points (3.6%) 
Tame Impala-Lonerism (2012) 1 points (1.2%)
Dirty Projectors-Swing Lo Magellan (2012) 1 points (1.2%)
The Antlers-Burst Apart (2011) 0 points (0.0%)

Emailed Ballots from station to station Panel:
JHO: Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream (Vote on Sodahead)
Scott B: The Allman Brothers Band-Eat A Peach
Chops: The Breeders-Last Splash
Jon B: Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream
Bill: Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream
Doug:The Allman Brothers Band-Eat A Peach
Dave: X-Under The Black Sun
Jack: X-Under The Black Sun
Brian: N.W.A.-Straight Outta Compton
Charlie: X-Under The Black Sun
James T.: Neutral Milk Hotel-In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
JPOP: Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream
 The Allman Brothers Band-Eat A Peach 8 votes
 Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream 5 votes
  N.W.A.-Straight Outta Compton 2 votes
 Tool-10,000 Days 2 votes
Van Morrison-Astral Weeks 2 votes
The Breeders-Last Splash 1 vote
 Neutral Milk Hotel-In The Aeroplane Over The Sea 1 vote
Dirty Projectors-Swing Lo Magellan 1 vote

Peter Gabriel-Peter Gabriel (III) 11 votes
Neutral Milk Hotel-In The Aeroplane Over The Sea 9 votes  
 Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream 8 votes
 Van Morrison-Astral Weeks 8 votes
 Tool-10,000 Days 4 votes
The Allman Brothers Band-Eat A Peach 4 votes
 The Breeders-Last Splash 4 votes
 N.W.A.-Straight Outta Compton 2 votes
 Tame Impala-Lonerism 1 votes

Monday, January 19, 2015

#30: Smashing Pumpkins-Today (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Today"
Artist: Smashing Pumpkins
Release Date: September, 1993
From The Album: Siamese Dream (1993)

Quick Take: Tinged with just enough of glam's sense of dramatic gloominess, consider the descending chords of the riff, however rejigged from the simpler three-downward-note formula familiar to Marc Bolan -- with "Today," the Smashing Pumpkins broke into the big time with an at-once storming but catchy smash single. The fact that Billy Corgan's words were based on a day when he was feeling near-suicidal, the irony of the almost softly sighed lyrics throughout becomes patently obvious: "Today is the greatest day I've ever known/Can't wait for tomorrow." It's a sly joke but also not an apparent one, and most were content to take it on face value. No surprise given how rich and enveloping the music was -- Corgan, as with everything on Siamese Dream, recording all parts but Jimmy Chamberlin's drums himself, started with a soft opening chime before pouring on the majestic feedback blasts. "Today" alternates between calmer, almost Cure-like sections and the louder crunches, his soon-to-be-trademark guitar style taking My Bloody Valentine's own hypnotic riffing to more accessible results.
Courtesy: Ned Raggett (

Thursday, January 15, 2015

#31: Radiohead-Paranoid Android (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Paranoid Android"
Artist: Radiohead
Release Date: May, 1997
From The Album: OK Computer (1997)

Quick Take: "Paranoid Android" is a song by English alternative rock band Radiohead, featured on their 1997 third studio album OK Computer. The lyrics of the darkly humorous song were written primarily by singer Thom Yorke, following an unpleasant experience in a Los Angeles bar. At more than six minutes long and containing four distinct sections, the track is significantly influenced by The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". "Paranoid Android" takes its name from Marvin the Paranoid Android of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. When released as the lead single from OK Computer, "Paranoid Android" charted at number three on the UK Singles Chart. It was well received by music critics and highlighted in many reviews of OK Computer. The track has appeared regularly on lists of the best songs of all time, including Rolling Stone '​s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Its animated music video, directed by Magnus Carlsson, was placed on heavy rotation on MTV, although the network censored portions containing nudity in the US. Since its release, the track has been covered by numerous artists working in a variety of musical genres.
Courtesy: Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

#32: Matthew Sweet-Girlfriend (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Girlfriend"
Artist: Matthew Sweet
Release Date: October, 1991
From The Album: Girlfriend (1991)

Quick Take: In a classic story from the "hooray for life's little ironies" department, Matthew Sweet recorded his third album, Girlfriend, for A&M Records -- who opted to drop Sweet from his contract rather than release it. Zoo Entertainment eventually put it out in 1991, and it quickly became Sweet's critical and commercial breakthrough. The title tune, "Girlfriend," is as good an example as any of what made the album so memorable -- and why A&M was wary of its commercial prospects. On the surface, "Girlfriend" is a model up-tempo pop tune, with delicious multi-tracked harmonies on the chorus that beg the listener to sing along and a propulsive energy that would make any pop aficionado get up and dance. But laid over the top is a wildly fragmented guitar lead from Robert Quine, whose bitterness is a bracing counterpoint to the sweetness (no pun intended) of Sweet's vocals, while drummer Fred Maher is bound and determined to make this song rock, and his manic energy drives this performance the way Keith Moon would send the Who's early singles into overdrive. "Girlfriend" has a pure pop heart and a noise rock soul, and it's hard to imagine a time when the mass audience would have embraced it as eagerly as in late 1991 and early 1992, when the sudden and explosive success of Nirvana and the alternative rock revolution briefly changed the rules on what constituted a radio-ready pop tune.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#33: Green Day-When I Come Around (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "When I Come Around"
Artist: Green Day
Release Date: January, 1995
From The Album: Dookie (1994)

Quick Take: "When I Come Around" is a song released by American punk rock band Green Day. It is the tenth track on their third studio album, Dookie, which was released as the fourth single from that album in 1995. "When I Come Around" was Green Day's most popular radio single in their early career, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay. This was their highest charting radio single until 2004's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" peaked at number 2. It was one of the most successful alternative rock songs of 1995. It topped the Modern Rock Tracks for seven weeks, and also hit number two on the Mainstream Rock Tracks. "When I Come Around" has sold 639,000 copies as of August, 2010, which makes it the band's second best-selling single of the 1990s, only behind the 1997 hit "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)". Billie Joe Armstrong wrote the song after breaking up with his girlfriend, Adrienne Nesser (whom he later married).
Courtesy: Wikipedia