View Full Version : What do you think?


Mariner
07-11-2003, 03:33 PM
Here's my lousy two cents. Discuss if you're so inspired. The following was inspired by the whole Marlon Brando/Machina thread.

In my opinion the Pumpkins peaked with MCIS. Everything after that is 85% squandered potential. I listen to the music The Smashing Pumpkins made up to 1996 and there's something there that's potent, compelling, deeply valid and stunningly beautiful. I just get the feeling from the music that this stuff is fully self-realized. It stands on its own and cannot be improved on. I listen in awe and wonder and admiration.

I can't say the same about nearly everything recorded after the Jonathon Melvoin incident. I listen to Adore and Machina and all the other material from that time and all I hear is so much squandered potential. When listen to almost every one of those songs, or especially the albums, I can't help but think how much better --insert song/album here-- would be if they'd just ______ (arrangement, instrumentation, emotion, tracklisting, mixing, etc.). In other words, as Ugly said in the other thread (page 3), the execution just isn't there. The songs are basically good and have great potential, but they're missing that extra something that makes things great, not just good (vibe, mojo, muse, call it what you will). All the songs from the Adore and Machina 'eras' are just dim echoes of what might have been incredible, world-conquering songs and albums.

I think that the horrible stuff the band went through in 1996 and how they handled it (ill-advised pressure from management or no) killed the band's 'magic', if you will. They went on without the full band intact and it really hurt them. They kept going when they should've all just taken a long time off to let what had just happened to them sink in. If the band had gone on hiatus and returned a year or three later intact, healthy, and with a more mature perspective, I believe they could've become one of the biggest bands in 'rock' music history.

There was something incredibly special about those four people being together. Who was actually in the studio, writing the songs, playing the instruments, etc. doesn't matter as much as the fact that those four people were 'in a band' together. Their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, souls, whatever played off each other, complimented each other, and inspired each other perfectly. I think that's why, for me, MCIS is their pinnacle - all four were in the studio together, and so that album best captured the essence of the band.

After that, because of the way things were handled after 1996, things just weren't the same and the music shows it. Even when the four members reunited during the Machina sessions, it wasn't enough. Something was lost when the band went on without Jimmy, and things with D'arcy were apparently spiraling downward, and fast. I remember Billy and Jimmy saying themselves that when Jimmy came back he said he'd listened to Adore and all he heard was Billy struggling. I think it could be said that the whole band was struggling, and I think that statement can be streched over everything post-1996. Jimmy, Billy, James, and D'arcy were such foils for each other that when one or more of them were 'out of the picture' the music lost its spark.

Eulogy
07-11-2003, 03:42 PM
Adore > MCIS

And I like Machina just fine. You can't expect perfect album after perfect album. One you make one Siamese Dream, you can't make another one. It's unreasonable to expect that. Machina might not be as good as the other albums (and let's try and look at the album from a purely musical standpoint, please. forget the concept for this thread), but I don't think it has anything to do with a spark being lost.

What am I trying to say. I have no idea.

peabody
07-11-2003, 03:51 PM
I disagree.

I think Adore is more compelling and beautiful than any of their previous albums. And I think Mellon Collie isn't that great. I think Siamese Dream was their peak, and Adore was just a fluke amazing album.

Yeah.

Boycott Graceland
07-11-2003, 03:52 PM
Originally posted by Mariner
I can't say the same about nearly everything recorded after the Jonathon Melvoin incident. I listen to Adore and Machina and all the other material from that time and all I hear is so much squandered potential. When listen to almost every one of those songs, or especially the albums, I can't help but think how much better --insert song/album here-- would be if they'd just ______ (arrangement, instrumentation, emotion, tracklisting, mixing, etc.). In other words, as Ugly said in the other thread (page 3), the execution just isn't there. The songs are basically good and have great potential, but they're missing that extra something that makes things great, not just good (vibe, mojo, muse, call it what you will). All the songs from the Adore and Machina 'eras' are just dim echoes of what might have been incredible, world-conquering songs and albums.
there's no way they could have possibly stayed at the commercial peak they were in at MCIS. billy said it himself, they were done with rock music. what would you rather have them do, keep persuing something they were totally uninterested in and keep writing the same four types of songs over and over? they would fade in to mild obscurity, like pearl jam has.

adore is the pumpkins best album. event though it has the most technology and whatnot, it remains the most timeless sounding. as far as i see, the songs are great and the execution was great. i believe a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was coming directly from the heart. they weren't practicing and calculating over this album for years and years in advance, as per gish and mcis; it was just a quiet, beautiful reflection on what was going on in their world at the time. you can say they would be better if jimmy was still in the band, but if he was, billy wouldn't have written half the songs he did about that difficult time period.

Reyngel
07-11-2003, 03:58 PM
Too much to keep track of two different threads on the same topic... sorry.

Diamond Dream
07-11-2003, 04:12 PM
About Adore...

I really like this album but I don't know... "Perfect" is a good exemple because it has some beautiful lyrics but the album version could be a lot better.. (see Adore doc. part 1).

Blissed and Gone + LMGTWTY (Adore version) should have been on the album for sure. Annie Dog and Dusty Pete would be better off as B-Sides.

Adore.. Great lyrics.. some good album versions but not enough.. arrengements could have been better on some of them..

And as I am now listening to Summer... that should have been on the album too.

peabody
07-11-2003, 04:15 PM
Originally posted by Diamond Dream


And as I am now listening to Summer... that should have been on the album too.

The James song?

No.

Dead
07-11-2003, 04:16 PM
Originally posted by Mariner
When listen to almost every one of those songs, or especially the albums, I can't help but think how much better --insert song/album here-- would be if they'd just ______ (arrangement, instrumentation, emotion, tracklisting, mixing, etc.). In other words, as Ugly said in the other thread (page 3), the execution just isn't there. The songs are basically good and have great potential, but they're missing that extra something that makes things great, not just good (vibe, mojo, muse, call it what you will). All the songs from the Adore and Machina 'eras' are just dim echoes of what might have been incredible, world-conquering songs and albums.
While I love Machina and I know Adore is a really good album even though i rarely listen to it, I'm kinda feeling what you're saying. Mainly this part "arrangement, instrumentation, emotion, tracklisting, mixing, etc.".

I guess that's what I had to say. Machina is a great album to me but I still get what you're saying there.

Some songs just rule and don't need any improvement, Perfect, SIYL. Those are pretty great to me. But a lot of the Machina stuff had more 'feeling' and emotion live.

I hope this has been someone comprehensible. :p

Mariner
07-11-2003, 04:16 PM
Originally posted by Boycott Graceland
excellent point


Sorry I didn't make myself clearer on that.

I'm not talking about the particular style of music, but the quality of whatever they're playing. I think songs like La Dolly Vita, Glynis, and X.Y.U. have something that Perfect, Behold!, and I of the Mourning don't.

The last thing I'd want is for them to keep trying to recreate MCIS or SD. What I was trying to say is I think that if things had gone differently, they could've made more albums (regardless of what 'genre' they might resemble) of the same caliber.

Adore is great, Machina is good, but both could've been much better.

In my opinion Adore should've been shorter and simpler. Billy was on the right track but he was a little lost without Jimmy and got distracted with knob-twiddling and computers. The album should've been almost or completely devoid of "electronic" stuff. It should've been Billy, James, Jimmy, and D'arcy playing simple, subtle, beautiful music with an emphasis on 'live' recording and a minimization of overdubs and more than 4 tracks at a time (maybe like the recorded versions of My Mistake, Shame, Czarina, Do You Close Your Eyes, etc.) . It should've been therapy for the band after what they'd gone through, and the only obvious musical follow-up to something like MCIS. Songs that are better suited with electronica or 'rock' (Ava, maybe Perfect, Maybe Daphne, A+O, Pug) should've been saved for another album, perhaps one in which they'd join stuff along the lines of TEITBITE/TBITEITB, Eye, and the Ransom soundtrack.

SMiLE
07-11-2003, 04:31 PM
Originally posted by Mariner
I can't say the same about nearly everything recorded after the Jonathon Melvoin incident. I listen to Adore and Machina and all the other material from that time and all I hear is so much squandered potential. When listen to almost every one of those songs, or especially the albums, I can't help but think how much better --insert song/album here-- would be if they'd just ______ (arrangement, instrumentation, emotion, tracklisting, mixing, etc.). In other words, as Ugly said in the other thread (page 3), the execution just isn't there. The songs are basically good and have great potential, but they're missing that extra something that makes things great, not just good (vibe, mojo, muse, call it what you will). All the songs from the Adore and Machina 'eras' are just dim echoes of what might have been incredible, world-conquering songs and albums.

Could you please be more vague? Thanks.

Boycott Graceland
07-11-2003, 04:40 PM
Originally posted by Mariner
The album should've been almost or completely devoid of "electronic" stuff. It should've been Billy, James, Jimmy, and D'arcy playing simple, subtle, beautiful music with an emphasis on 'live' recording and a minimization of overdubs and more than 4 tracks at a time (maybe like the recorded versions of My Mistake, Shame, Czarina, Do You Close Your Eyes, etc.) . It should've been therapy for the band after what they'd gone through, and the only obvious musical follow-up to something like MCIS. Songs that are better suited with electronica or 'rock' (Ava, maybe Perfect, Maybe Daphne, A+O, Pug) should've been saved for another album, perhaps one in which they'd join stuff along the lines of TEITBITE/TBITEITB, Eye, and the Ransom soundtrack.
they originally wanted it to be that way, i believe. adore was intended to be a pure, simple, acoustic record with very few overdubs and no electronic business. but i think a little ways in to these original sessions (now called "the adore demos"), billy felt that the album wouldn't hold water for whatever reason. i remember that he cited creative differences with the producer of those sessions. when it got to be just billy, james, darcy and a drum machine, they started gravitating back towards their late 80s goth-pop roots, and nothing could stop it from happening.

jczeroman
07-11-2003, 05:08 PM
I agree with the first post almost whole heartedly. Well put.

Mariner
07-11-2003, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by SMiLE


Could you please be more vague? Thanks.

Sure.

For example:

When I listen to "The Everlasting Gaze" I think that Billy shouldn't be singing "You know I'm not dead" to start out the song. Save that for the bridge/chorus. Instead there should be different lyrics or no vocals at all (maybe some sort of Iha guitar wankery instead) leading into "Now you know, where I've been..." On the second verse, the ebowed guitar line that's sort of way in the distance should be brought wayy forward into the mix. Jimmy's drum fills in the choruses should be sort of doubled...two drum tracks, one in the left and one in the right, each with a slightly different Jimmy fill, should fight for attention. One gets louder for a second at the expense of the other, and then they switch, back and forth, really fast. It should almost be dizzying, adding to that really dreamy, floating feel that all those echoed and reverbed guitars on the chorus give. The vocal interlude should in_clude about 6 or 7 different takes of Billy doing the interlude that cut in and out quickly and arhythmically. By the end of the interlude there should also be the sound of a concert crowd singing the interlude along in the back_ground. When the instruments come back in after the interlude, the double drum track technique reappear, but this time the two slightly different tracks don't fight for space, they're pummeling the listener from each ear. The outro freak-out needs a powerful, rising ebowish guitar line (similar to the one in the back_ground of the 2nd verse) that drives insanely higher and higher, even when you think it doesn't sound possible (kinda like the end of "Starla") and sort of drives the song to the crashing end.

When I listen to "Tear" (an amazing song, don't get me wrong), I think: Boy, a live string section would do this song wonders. There needs to be more emotion in the climax of the song, perhaps a more elaborate drum fill and the strings hitting some higher notes than elsewhere in the song. The middle interlude would sound better with a real piano, not a synthesized one. The beginning would be cool if it was just the vocals, without any percussion.

When I listen to Heavy Metal Machine, I think that it should have 3 riffs, not one. 1st measure: Machina HMM riff -> 2nd measure: riff that the bassline in the techno/industrial version of HMM used -> 3rd measure: Machina HMM riff again -> 4th measure: JACKBOOT riff. The choruses should really play up even more the slow, stately, stomp feel. The choir of voices doing those multilayer harmonies on Billy when he sings "Heavy metal, heavy metal machine" should be way over the top in the mix (really prominent), not subtle. The instruments on the verses shouldn't contain the same sort of frizzy fuzz that the chorus has. They should be crisp, clear, and raw sounding. The outro should have the instrumentation drop out after a while when 'heavy metal, heavy metal machine' is being repeated, like in the live versions. The voice should go down to a whisper before everything comes thundering back in, like in the live versions. The outro, when the song's main riff evovles into that huge, bouncing metal finale, should really go for the gusto. The mix should change to reflect the climax in the music - it should feel like your speakers are going to blow out. The bass and guitars should be attacked/played as hard and heavy as possible. Jimmy should be doing his best controlled chaos on the drums - filling every moment with a hit but still shaping it all to the rhythm of the song.

When I listen to "The Imploding Voice", I think: This song could be a little shorter. Billy's voice (or at least one of them) should be an octave lower at the end when the "everywhere you are"s are trading back and forth. It would be cool if the main guitar riff in the song shifted between the fuzzed-out electric and an acoustic, almost like somebody was turning the distortion on and off at random. The section with the lyrics "face the crowd, by yourself, atom bomb, on the shelf, unsung...etc..." should be a kind of call-response thing with Billy and D'arcy (one takes a line, the other sings the next, and back and forth...).

When I listen to "Daphne Descends" I think the second verse should incorporate the main melody from the Kerry Brown 'remix'. The choruses should be cut in half - only one 'stanza' per chorus, not two.

When I listen to "Blue Skies Bring Tears" I think that it should've been the big 'epic' on Machina, not Glass + the Ghost Children. The song should've started out like the amazing live version that was featured on the official site's Collapsing Cities "radio" broadcast, and should also contain that version's take on the "don't you want me" bridge, leading into Jimmy's amazing drum rampage, which should crescendo into a second movement something like the Electric version of BSBT that appeared on Machina II.




Stuff like that is what always pops into my head when I listen to post 1996 stuff. The few songs I don't second guess from post '96: To Sheila, For Martha, Shame, Annie Dog, Stand Inside Your Love, Speed Kills (SIYL single version). There might be a few others, not remembering right now though.

Don't even get me started about album tracklistings...

bonsor
07-11-2003, 06:00 PM
Adore I think was Billy's most expressive effort. The circumstances all seemed to line up. He was at a certain age where everyone looks to themselves and reflects. He went through a lot emotionally. He parted with his wife, his mother and one of his best friends. The result of it was expectedly the most introspective record he would put out to date, and I think it was executed perfectly (save for some track sequencing issues and appels + oranjes). That, I think, was their musical peak.

Up until then, everything was about having an idea and a vision ("our music is like sex. sometimes you go fast, sometimes you go slow, and sometimes you stop") and creating music from that using more primal instincts and emotions. Adore was about moving from a deepseeded emotion, which would probabably never had seen the light of say had Billy not dealt with so much grief during such a short time, and creating a true reflection of what he was feeling. This is not to say any of their other records were less emotional per se, but it's definitely one of their most passionate.

SMiLE
07-11-2003, 06:18 PM
Originally posted by Mariner


Sure.

For example:

When I listen to "The Everlasting Gaze" I think that Billy shouldn't be singing "You know I'm not dead" to start out the song. Save that for the bridge/chorus. Instead there should be different lyrics or no vocals at all (maybe some sort of Iha guitar wankery instead) leading into "Now you know, where I've been..." On the second verse, the ebowed guitar line that's sort of way in the distance should be brought wayy forward into the mix. Jimmy's drum fills in the choruses should be sort of doubled...two drum tracks, one in the left and one in the right, each with a slightly different Jimmy fill, should fight for attention. One gets louder for a second at the expense of the other, and then they switch, back and forth, really fast. It should almost be dizzying, adding to that really dreamy, floating feel that all those echoed and reverbed guitars on the chorus give. The vocal interlude should in_clude about 6 or 7 different takes of Billy doing the interlude that cut in and out quickly and arhythmically. By the end of the interlude there should also be the sound of a concert crowd singing the interlude along in the back_ground. When the instruments come back in after the interlude, the double drum track technique reappear, but this time the two slightly different tracks don't fight for space, they're pummeling the listener from each ear. The outro freak-out needs a powerful, rising ebowish guitar line (similar to the one in the back_ground of the 2nd verse) that drives insanely higher and higher, even when you think it doesn't sound possible (kinda like the end of "Starla") and sort of drives the song to the crashing end.

When I listen to "Tear" (an amazing song, don't get me wrong), I think: Boy, a live string section would do this song wonders. There needs to be more emotion in the climax of the song, perhaps a more elaborate drum fill and the strings hitting some higher notes than elsewhere in the song. The middle interlude would sound better with a real piano, not a synthesized one. The beginning would be cool if it was just the vocals, without any percussion.

When I listen to Heavy Metal Machine, I think that it should have 3 riffs, not one. 1st measure: Machina HMM riff -> 2nd measure: riff that the bassline in the techno/industrial version of HMM used -> 3rd measure: Machina HMM riff again -> 4th measure: JACKBOOT riff. The choruses should really play up even more the slow, stately, stomp feel. The choir of voices doing those multilayer harmonies on Billy when he sings "Heavy metal, heavy metal machine" should be way over the top in the mix (really prominent), not subtle. The instruments on the verses shouldn't contain the same sort of frizzy fuzz that the chorus has. They should be crisp, clear, and raw sounding. The outro should have the instrumentation drop out after a while when 'heavy metal, heavy metal machine' is being repeated, like in the live versions. The voice should go down to a whisper before everything comes thundering back in, like in the live versions. The outro, when the song's main riff evovles into that huge, bouncing metal finale, should really go for the gusto. The mix should change to reflect the climax in the music - it should feel like your speakers are going to blow out. The bass and guitars should be attacked/played as hard and heavy as possible. Jimmy should be doing his best controlled chaos on the drums - filling every moment with a hit but still shaping it all to the rhythm of the song.

When I listen to "The Imploding Voice", I think: This song could be a little shorter. Billy's voice (or at least one of them) should be an octave lower at the end when the "everywhere you are"s are trading back and forth. It would be cool if the main guitar riff in the song shifted between the fuzzed-out electric and an acoustic, almost like somebody was turning the distortion on and off at random. The section with the lyrics "face the crowd, by yourself, atom bomb, on the shelf, unsung...etc..." should be a kind of call-response thing with Billy and D'arcy (one takes a line, the other sings the next, and back and forth...).

When I listen to "Daphne Descends" I think the second verse should incorporate the main melody from the Kerry Brown 'remix'. The choruses should be cut in half - only one 'stanza' per chorus, not two.

When I listen to "Blue Skies Bring Tears" I think that it should've been the big 'epic' on Machina, not Glass + the Ghost Children. The song should've started out like the amazing live version that was featured on the official site's Collapsing Cities "radio" broadcast, and should also contain that version's take on the "don't you want me" bridge, leading into Jimmy's amazing drum rampage, which should crescendo into a second movement something like the Electric version of BSBT that appeared on Machina II.




Stuff like that is what always pops into my head when I listen to post 1996 stuff. The few songs I don't second guess from post '96: To Sheila, For Martha, Shame, Annie Dog, Stand Inside Your Love, Speed Kills (SIYL single version). There might be a few others, not remembering right now though.

Don't even get me started about album tracklistings...
F4g.

Ugly
07-12-2003, 12:43 PM
I think the problem is a little simpler than that. Billy stopped writting songs and started making albums. He started to make "art". Gish/SD/MCIS were really just an eclectic mix of songs that dove from one sonic end to the other. Great stuff but its not as if there was supposed to be a consistent theme to the whole thing. It was just alot of pure Pumpkins stuff crammed together in various ways - the best tracks made the cut and the other ones didn't. Throwing together a bunch of songs that became an album. MCIS started out as a concept then crashed out cuz they just wrote a hell of alot of songs and didn't try to keep a thematic thread going throughout the album. Its very diverse and its a great album.

By the time Adore rolls around, Billy started to believe his own hype. He was writting great ALBUMS, goddamnit! He was sad, he lost his mother, drummer, touring keyboardist, wife, dead fans: the shitstorm was rainning down. So he set out to make a consistent album that kept with that theme of sadness and loss instead of just writting songs. He says repeatedly that he wrote Let Me Give the World to You for Adore then said it didn't fit. Remixed it for MACHINA and then said it didn't fit either. Its a great song and even he likes it, do you think pre-96 that they would have kept a track off that because it didn't fit?

I like Adore (it flip flops between my 2nd and 3rd fav.) cuz its very emotional, but its different because its self-conciously trying to be that way, which in turn leads to a little bit of sameness over the course of the tracks. MACHINA is actually more diverse, but once again, we're ramming our heads against an "album" concept instead of just freakin writting songs. The focus became about how the album should holds together as a whole, instead of about how each song should be the strong enough to keep your interest. Ironically, by being so concerned about the album overall, it actually hurt them in the end.