1994 The Year Alternative Became Mainstream, Pt. 2

NOTE: The title of the last track in this program contains the F word. Simply presenting history the way it was, not for shock value.

On the 27th of July 1993, Chicago-area Rock and Roll band The Smashing Pumpkins released their second LP, Siamese Dream. It would start a year’s worth of singles, videos and incessant touring that would make the Smashing Pumpkins the biggest act in the soon-to-be-marketing-cliche “Alternative Rock” genre, something they would transcend regardless by the end of 1995 to briefly become the biggest Rock and Roll band in the world.

I hate how in magazine pictures, they always stick me somewhere in the back. It means they don’t think I’m the cute one.

Billy Corgan

Founded by principal songwriter, guitarist and vocalist for the band, Billy Corgan, the group included a female bass player, D’arcy Wretzky, guitarist James Iha, who was of Japanese descent and former Jazz drummer Jimmy Chamberlin from Joliet, IL. The band released a well-received album on pseudo-indie Caroline Records, Gish, in 1991. Already facing heat and negative attitudes from the Indie Rock community as being “careerists”, the band nonetheless forged ahead with their truly unique sound. This sound, a mix of late edgy 1970’s New Wave, dreamy 1980’s Shoegaze Pop, noisy Post-Punk and loud Heavy Metal was unlike anything anyone else was doing at the time.

The album, recorded in Georgia to keep drummer Chamberlin away from his drug dealers, hit #10 on the Billboard Top 200 LP’s chart in its first week. The band undertook a world tour that saw them playing to ever bigger crowds (including headlining the Lollapalooza tour in 1994) which included a sound system that would have rivaled that of Aerosmith replete with a light show that would was more than a nod to Blue Oyster Cult’s arena rock appearances two decades earlier. They also developed a knack for using volume in their live shows much like the Who did, with force and power as an integral part of their sound. This alienated other acts in the scene who were more comfortable with less “showy” equipment and much smaller crowds.

The Smashing Pumpkins were definitely children of their influences, but then did something rare: they merged it all together to create a new type of “Classic Rock” sound that still sets them apart from their contemporaries. However, things were already tense between the band members for some time, and it would eventually come to a head by the end of the decade, causing their demise. They have since reformed with 3/4 of their classic line-up, released a new album of material last November and are touring this summer.

Live from the PinkPop Festival, Netherlands, soundboard recording, 23 May 1994

Tracks are presented in a continuous sequence.
1. Cherub Rock
2. Rocket
3. Today
4, Disarm
5. I Am One
6. Drown
7. Hummer
8. Geek USA
9. Silverfuck

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Producer, Audio Engineer and Writer

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