Saturday, 26 March 2016
Oliver: Smashing Pumpkins - Smiley [Peel Session] (18 January 1992)
Smashing Pumpkins (they weren't using the definite article at the time Peel was playing them) always reminded me of that line attributed to Peter Cook about David Frost's progression to a position as one of the major power brokers in television, both in front of and behind the camera. That is to say they "rose without trace". As best as I can remember, and I am an unreliable narrator so please feel free to add opinions and corrections as you see fit, there was no one track or moment which led to Smashing Pumpkins becoming as popular as they were. They were just there - selling records and vaguely thought of as major players without anyone holding up a definitive record to say, "This is what people are responding to". I mean 1979 was a good tune, my mate Teudor bought that, and it led on to an album that I remember dominating the front window of many record shops. Perhaps they were like the Moody Blues or Pink Floyd, an albums band that found its way into millions of record collections to the bewilderment of those who couldn't see what the fuss was about.
Peel didn't play much of Smashing Pumpkins' music after about 1993, so it's doubtful that I will have an opportunity through this blog to find out in greater depth, unless I choose to. I have to say that listening to the band's debut album, Gish, which they were promoting at the time they recorded their Peel Session in September 1991, didn't provide me with great impetus to explore what I've been missing. On the evidence of that record, I prefer the Pumpkins when they're trying to find their inner Red Hot Chili Pepper on tracks like Tristessa rather than when they are being themselves on tracks like Window Paine. And including a track called Snail on their record was just asking for a kicking.
However, although I'm sharing the only track I heard from the session which Peel repeated on 18/1/92, if I had heard the whole thing on the recordings I based my selections on, then I would definitely be writing about how good the whole session was featuring a blistering version of album track Siva and a cover of A Girl Named Sandoz by The Animals which improved on the original. Ironically the track I have included here is one of those which are inherently Smashing Pumpkins, but which I've just told you I don't like. Smiley was written for the Gish album but wasn't included, but doesn't outstay it's welcome at 3:31, unlike some of the near 6 minute noodles on Gish. Credit where it's due, this is lovely.
Video courtesy of Wasp Kap.