Adore (The Smashing Pumpkins album)

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Adore
A black-and-white photo of a Caucasian woman leaning forward while holding the ends of a flowing black dress. In the corner, "Adore" is displayed in white handwriting.
Studio album by The Smashing Pumpkins
Released June 2, 1998
Recorded December 1997 – March 1998 at Sunset Sound, The Village Recorder, Chicago Recording Company, and various studios
Genre Alternative rock, electronica
Length 73:25
Label Virgin
Producer Billy Corgan, Flood, Brad Wood
The Smashing Pumpkins chronology
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
(1995)
Adore
(1998)
Machina/The Machines of God
(2000)
Singles from Adore
  1. "Ava Adore"
    Released: May 18, 1998
  2. "Perfect"
    Released: September 7, 1998
  3. "Crestfallen"
    Released: November 23, 1998 (promo)
  4. "To Sheila"
    Released: January 25, 1999 (promo)

Adore is the fourth album by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, released in June 1998 by Virgin Records. After the multi-platinum success of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and a subsequent yearlong world tour, follow-up Adore was considered "one of the most anticipated albums of 1998" by MTV.[1] Recording the album proved to be a challenge as the band members struggled with lingering interpersonal problems and musical uncertainty in the wake of three increasingly successful rock albums and the departure of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.[2] Frontman Billy Corgan would later characterize Adore as "a band falling apart".[3]

The result was a much more subdued and electronica-tinged sound that Greg Kot of Rolling Stone magazine called "a complete break with the past".[4] The album divided the fan base and sold only a fraction of the previous two albums. However, the album was well received by critics, and became the third straight Pumpkins album to be nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance.[5] A remastered and expanded version of the album will be released on CD and vinyl in 2014 as a part of the band's project to reissue their back catalogue from 1991-2000.

Background[edit]

The Smashing Pumpkins had cemented their place as a cultural force with the multi-platinum Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.[6] Already sensing the limits of their guitar-driven hard rock sound, the band had started to branch out during the making of Mellon Collie, and, after the chart-topping success of the electronic-leaning "1979",[7] the band zeroed in on electronica.[8] As the sprawling and massively successful Infinite Sadness tour wound down, Billy Corgan found himself facing many difficult issues, including musical burnout, the absence of his "best friend and musical soul mate in the band" Jimmy Chamberlin, the end of his marriage, and the death of his mother to cancer.[9]

In this period, the band released two new singles on movie soundtracks—"Eye" and "The End Is the Beginning Is the End". Both songs incorporated electronic elements, yet retained the hard rock elements of the band's previous material; one reviewer called the two singles "balls-out, full-energy chargers" and wrote off the Pumpkins' previous remarks that the upcoming album would "rock" less.[10] However, the new album material Corgan was writing consisted mainly of simple acoustic songs.[9] Corgan, James Iha, D'arcy Wretzky, and Matt Walker spent a few days in the studio in February 1997 laying down demos mostly as live takes, and the band hoped to quickly record an entire album in such a manner.[9] Corgan, hoping to maintain the band's progressive rock-inspired experimentation, soon had second thoughts about this approach and began envisioning a hybrid of folk rock and electronica that was at once "ancient" and "futuristic".[9]

Recording[edit]

The Smashing Pumpkins started demoing in February 1997 and recorded 30 songs for the album which, at one point, looked set to be a double album. The band subsequently cut the number of tracks on the album to 14.[11]

After playing several festival dates in summer 1997, the band began working at a variety of Chicago studios with producer Brad Wood—with whom Corgan previously had worked in the early 1990s.[12] While Mellon Collie had mostly been recorded with the full participation of all of the band members, the band dynamics during the new sessions soon muddled as Corgan, uninspired by his bandmates, worked mostly alone.[9] Wood, too, was leaving Corgan unsatisfied, so, after six weeks in Chicago, the band—minus Wood and Matt Walker—relocated to Los Angeles and started work at Sunset Sound, with Corgan now the de facto producer.[9][13]

Due to Jimmy Chamberlin being fired from The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron was one of several percussionists brought into the studio to record with the band

The band rented a house, and hoped that living communally would foster good relations and a happier recording environment.[14] According to Corgan, Iha refused to live in the house and rarely visited.[14] The recording sessions continued to be slow-moving and heavily technical.[15] In the absence of a drummer, the band used a drum machine as it had in its earliest incarnation.[14] The band also enlisted Joey Waronker, of Beck's band, and Matt Cameron, of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, for a few songs each.[16][17] Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb contributed electronic sequencing and sounds to eight album tracks, with the band giving him mostly free rein.[18]

At the behest of the band's management, Rick Rubin was brought in to produce one song, "Let Me Give the World to You", but the song was left off the album, later to be re-recorded for Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music.[19] With around thirty songs recorded, Corgan began to see an end, and enlisted Mellon Collie co-producer Flood to help finish the recording, pull the album together, and mix the songs.[15] Billy admitted to heavily using ecstasy and "pills" during the writing and recording of Adore.[20]

Art direction for the album is credited to Frank Olinsky, Billy Corgan, and Corgan's then-girlfriend and frequent collaborator Yelena Yemchuk. The artwork for the album and its singles consisted almost entirely of black-and-white photographs shot by Yemchuk, many of which featured model Amy Wesson.[21]

Music[edit]

Corgan was deliberately setting out to widen his band's sound and message, explaining that he was not "talking to teenagers anymore. I'm talking to everyone now. It's a wider dialogue. I'm talking to people who are older than me and younger than me, and our generation as well."[13] He said that much of the record was "an attempt to go back to what's important at a musical core and build it outward."[22] He would later reflect that he was "stuck on the idea that I needed to prove I was an artist, which is the death knell of any artist".[23]

Distorted guitars and live drums, the previous hallmarks of the Pumpkins sound, took a back seat in a sonic palette that included much more synthesizers, drum programming, acoustic guitar, and piano.[4] At least five songs on the album are driven chiefly by piano,[4] while the track "Appels + Oranjes" contains only electronic instruments and Corgan's vocals.

"Tear" was written for the Lost Highway soundtrack, but was rejected by David Lynch in favor of "Eye".[24] "Pug" was originally recorded as a "minor key blues death march" with drums by Matt Cameron, while the album version uses drum programming.[19] The only song on the album to feature Cameron, "For Martha", is a tribute to Corgan's mother that was primarily recorded as one live take.[15]

Apart from being the first album without Jimmy Chamberlin, Adore was the first album to not include writing contributions from James Iha,[21] who was concurrently working on his solo album Let It Come Down. However, he did contribute the track "Summer" to the "Perfect" single.[21]

Promotion and release[edit]

Sample of "Ava Adore", the first single from Adore (1998), which emphasizes the band's new electronic music-based sound via the use of drum machines and effects.

Problems playing this file? See media help.
A promotional photo of The Smashing Pumpkins circa 1998, showing a more Gothic-influenced look than before. Left to right: Iha, Wretzky, and Corgan.

The lead-up to Adore was marked by conflicting statements as to the album's sound—Corgan initially said the band was heading in the direction of the heavy-metal-guitar-and-electronic music-driven "The End is the Beginning is the End" in summer 1997,[25] while the band's management reported the album would be all-acoustic.[26] In early 1998, Corgan called the sound "arcane night music",[27] elaborating, "The people that say it's acoustic will be wrong. The people that say it's electronic will be wrong. The people that say it's a Pumpkins record will be wrong. I will try to make something that is indescribable".[28]

Adore was released on June 1, 1998 in most of the world, the same day the video for first single "Ava Adore" premiered. The album booklet and music video showed off the band's new gothic look. The second single, "Perfect", was also accompanied by a music video, which debuted on August 16.[29]

An Evening with The Smashing Pumpkins[edit]

After the marathon Infinite Sadness tour, the band embarked on a scaled-back 36-date world tour entitled An Evening with The Smashing Pumpkins to support Adore.[30][31][32] Abroad, the Pumpkins played at what had been called an "eclectic mix of interesting venues",[33] among them the rooftop of a FNAC record store in Paris, France,[34] in the botanic gardens of Brussels, Belgium,[35] at the Cannes Film Festival,[36] and at an International Shipping Harbor in Sydney, Australia.[37] In the United States, the Pumpkins donated 100% of their ticket profits to local charities[38] (yet one stop on the tour, Minneapolis, was a free concert and underestimated the attendance of the show).[39] In the end, the Pumpkins, with the help of their fans, raised over $2.8 million in this manner.[40]

The lineup was the most expansive yet, including former John Mellencamp and Melissa Etheridge drummer Kenny Aronoff,[41] percussionists Dan Morris and Stephen Hodges, and David Bowie pianist Mike Garson.[42] Violinist Lisa Germano was also set to appear,[43] but did not ultimately appear in the touring line-up. The set was mainly Adore material, with only a handful of reworked Mellon Collie songs and no songs from prior to 1995, eliminating many of their radio hits and fan favorites.[32]

Reception and aftermath[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[44]
Entertainment Weekly B+[45]
Pitchfork Media (8.1/10)[10]
Robert Christgau (neither)[46]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[4]

Critical reception to Adore was generally positive. Greg Kot of Rolling Stone magazine regarded Adore as "the most intimate album the Pumpkins have ever made and also the prettiest, a parade of swooning melodies and gentle, unfolding nocturnes."[4] Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork Media described the album as "the Pumpkins' best offering since Siamese Dream."[10] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described Adore as "a hushed, elegiac album that sounds curiously out of time," though he noted that the album "ultimately isn't a brave step forward."[44] Adore was considered one of "an inspiring range of 25 classic alternative American albums" by The Guardian.[47] The lyrics received particular praise from critics—Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times, who in 1993 had criticized Corgan's lyrics as "too often sound[ing] like sophomoric poetry",[48] said Corgan "took a big leap forward as a lyricist" starting with Adore.[49] Schreiber, who criticized Mellon Collie as "lyrical rock-bottom",[50] called Adore's lyrics "poetic", particularly singling out "To Sheila".[10] Greg Kot emphasized the "oblique, private longings, and weighty, sometimes awkward conceits" in the lyrics,[4] while David Browne of Entertainment Weekly called them "unsettled and unsettling."[45] The contributions of Wretzky and Iha also received praise, with Kot noting that "Iha's quirky guitar accents and Wretzky's unflashy resolve [. . .] give Adore a warmth and camaraderie no other Pumpkins album can match."[51]

Despite this, public reception to Adore was lukewarm.[52] Adore entered the Billboard album charts at number two with 174,000 units of the album sold,[53] and was certified platinum by the RIAA five weeks later,[54] but the album soon departed the charts, leaving Adore far short of the sales figures of its predecessors. Two additional promotional singles, "Crestfallen" and "To Sheila", were released to radio stations but failed to gain traction and were never released as commercial singles.[13] As of May 2005, Adore has sold 1.1 million units in the U.S., and at least three times as many copies worldwide.[51]

Corgan initially blamed fans for the failure,[55] then himself, saying that he "made the mistake of telling people it was a techno record" and that if he "would have told everyone Adore was the Pumpkins' acoustic album we would have never had the problems that we had."[56] By the end of 1998, Corgan, who would later call the making of Adore "one of the most painful experiences of my life",[14] was already writing material for the band's next album, and Jimmy Chamberlin was readmitted into the band.

"Adore was like an ageing Hollywood superstar," Corgan later told Q. "She's 55 years old and she's had three facelifts. She looks in the mirror one day and suddenly realises that she can't sustain the energy anymore. That record was all about dreams dying."[57]

Reissue[edit]

Adore is scheduled to be reissued, remastered and repackaged with outtakes, remixes and B-sides in 2014. The reissue is set to include six discs, including remastered stereo and mono versions of the album, three discs of unreleased material, and a live DVD from their 1998 tour, An Evening with the Smashing Pumpkins. The set was remastered by Bob Ludwig, with Corgan stating that the new mix of the album contains "elements from the original sessions that were stored digitally, but never used; such as some of the work done by Bon Harris." The set is scheduled to be released in the summer.[58]

The track listing for the reissue Box-set will be unveiled in early July 2014.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Billy Corgan

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "To Sheila"     4:46
2. "Ava Adore"     4:21
3. "Perfect"     3:23
4. "Daphne Descends"     4:39
5. "Once Upon a Time"     4:06
6. "Tear"     5:53
7. "Crestfallen"     4:09
8. "Appels + Oranjes"     3:35
9. "Pug"     4:47
10. "The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete"     4:35
11. "Annie-Dog"     3:38
12. "Shame"     6:40
13. "Behold! The Night Mare"     5:13
14. "For Martha"     8:18
15. "Blank Page"     4:58
16. "17" (not on vinyl pressings)   0:17

Personnel[edit]

The Smashing Pumpkins
Additional musicians
  • Matt Walker – drums on "To Sheila", "Ava Adore", "Daphne Descends", "Tear", "The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete", "Annie-Dog", and "Behold! The Night Mare"
  • Matt Cameron – drums on "For Martha"
  • Joey Waronker – drums on "Perfect", additional drums on "Once Upon a Time" and "Pug"
  • Dennis Flemion – additional vocals in "To Sheila" and "Behold! The Night Mare"
  • Jimmy Flemion – additional vocals in "To Sheila" and "Behold! The Night Mare"
  • Bon Harris – additional programming on tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 13; additional vocals in "For Martha"
  • Brad Wood – additional production and engineering on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 13, and 15, additional vocals in "Behold! The Night Mare", organ in "Blank Page"
Technical personnel
  • Robbie Adams – engineering, mixing
  • Chris Brickley – recording assistant
  • Flood – additional production, mixing
  • Eric Greedy – mix assistant
  • Steve Johnson – recording assistant
  • Ron Lowe – recording assistant
  • Jay Nicholas – mix assistant
  • Frank Olinsky – art direction and design
  • Neil Perry – engineer, mixing
  • Matt Prock – recording assistant
  • Chris Shepard – engineer
  • Jamie Siegel – mix assistant
  • Bjorn Thorsrud – digital editing, engineering
  • Ed Tinley – recording assistant
  • Andy Van Dette – digital editing and compilation
  • Jeff Vereb – recording assistant
  • Howie Weinberg – mastering
  • Howard C. Willing – engineering, mix assistant
  • John Wydrycs – mix assistant
  • Yelena Yemchuk – photography, art direction and design

Charts[edit]

Album
Chart (1998) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[59] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[60] 7
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[61] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[62] 8
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[63] 2
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[64] 5
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[65] 5
French Albums (SNEP)[66] 1
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[67] 3
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[68] 1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[69] 1
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[70] 4
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[71] 13
UK Albums (OCC)[72] 5
US Billboard 200[73] 2
Year-End
Chart (2013) Position
Australian Album Chart[74] 47
US Billboard 200[75] 86
Singles
Year Song Chart positions
US
Modern Rock
[7][76]
US
Mainstream Rock
[7][76]
Canadian Singles Chart[76] UK
Singles Chart
[77]
Australian Singles Chart[78] US
Hot 100
[7][76]
US
Adult Top 40
[76]
1998 "Ava Adore" 3 8 9 11 19 42  —
"Perfect" 3 33 13 24 56 54 31

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins Set Release Date, Track Listing For "Adore"". MTV. April 28, 1998. Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved February 13, 2007. 
  2. ^ The primary source on the recording climate is a three-part blog written by Billy Corgan in 2005, all three of which are referenced extensively in the body of this article.
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Preceded by
You Am I's #4 Record by You Am I
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
June 14–20, 1998
Succeeded by
City of Angels (soundtrack) by various artists