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Adore

From Academic Kids

Template:Album infoboxAdore is The Smashing Pumpkins' fourth studio album, released on June 2, 1998 in the United States. It is a significant album for the band for many reasons, but mainly because of its dramatically different sound and because it was the only album without original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

Contents

Pre-recording

In 1996, shortly after the release of "1979" as a single, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan mentioned in an interview that "1979" was his favourite song and that future recordings by the band would adopt a similar sound. As "1979" was the Pumpkins' first foray into electronic music, there was some uneasiness expressed amongst fans and critics who were more accustomed to the alternative rock sound of Gish and Siamese Dream. Corgan's comments about a "1979"-like album lead many to say "The Pumpkins are going techno on the next album".

It seemed that these comments were unfounded, however, a year later in June 1997 when the Pumpkins released their first single since their last album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, "The End is the Beginning is the End" for the Batman and Robin soundtrack. The song incorporated electronic elements but kept the hard rock edge of the band's previous material. It was with the release of the single that The Smashing Pumpkins began work on recording a new album.

All eyes were on the recording of the new album, as many were interested in how the Pumpkins (and in particular, Corgan) would follow up on the massive success of Mellon Collie..., especially without original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin who was fired from the band mid-1996 for drug abuse.

Recording

In August 1997, the three remaining Pumpkins, Corgan, D'arcy and James Iha (along with temporary replacement drummer, Matt Walker) entered Chicago Trax Recording and Hinge in Chicago with producer Brad Wood, who Corgan had worked with in the early 1990s. The band was unhappy with the sessions recorded in Chicago and they were subsequently scrapped before making a move to Los Angeles to resume the work on the album. After these sessions, Corgan felt that Wood was not suitable for producing The Smashing Pumpkins, stating "He needs to work with someone like Liz Phair, whom he can mold, and I'm not the kind of person you can mold". Wood did not join the Pumpkins in LA, and they instead recruited previous producer Flood to serve as an engineer and an advisor for the album.

Before the move to LA, the band made a few live appearances in which several new tracks were debuted. These shows included Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit, a surprise gig opening for Jane's Addiction and two shows opening for The Rolling Stones. At these shows, attendees were treated to several new songs: "Ava Adore", "Behold! The Night Mare" and "To Sheila". The second show with The Stones was also the final show with Matt Walker as he left the band to pursue a career with his own band The Cupcakes.

In December 1997, recording began at Sound City in Van Nuys, California with Ex-Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron (although Walker had already recorded a hand full of tracks). Beck drummer Joey Waronker was also called in to contribute drum tracks.

The Pumpkins also worked with legendary producer Rick Rubin for one track, "Let Me Give the World to You". Corgan stated that the recording of the song and the experience with Rubin was not a success, and was therefore left off the album. It was the last song recorded for the album.

Sessions were wrapped up in early 1998, with 30 songs. Out of that 30, only 16 made the final cut.

Early promotion

In January 1998, Billy described the new album as "arcane night music" and definitely not acoustic, which was the rumour at the time. He performed debuted ten of the new songs in a short set at Johnny Depp's Viper Room in LA. Of these ten, only two were not released on the final album ("Blissed and Gone" and "Let Me Give the World to You"). Iha also played a short set of songs from his new solo album, Let it Come Down. He also began a small tour to promote the album before the new album's release, mostly with radio station appearances.

It was around this time that it was announced that The Smashing Pumpkins' fourth album would be titled "Adore".

Kenny Arnoff, drummer for high profile acts like John Mellencamp and Melissa Etheridge, agreed to join the Pumpkins for their upcoming tour after Matt Walker's departure. Waronker was invited to join the tour, but declined as he requested higher pay than what the band had offered.

More musicians were announced to be joining the Pumpkins on tour, including another two percussionists, violinist Lisa Germano and pianist Mike Garson.

The band headed to London to film a video for the album's first single "Ava Adore". Their highest budgeted video yet, "Ava Adore" featured a large cast of extras and was filmed in what looks to be one continuous shot. The three Pumpkins also showed off a new image adopted for the new album - an almost gothic look, featuring elegant robes and make-up.

While in Europe, The Smashing Pumpkins began their tour for "Adore", just before its release, performing "Ava Adore", "Daphne Descends" and "Once Upon a Time" on BBC's "Later with Jools Holland".

Release

Adore was released to the world on June 1, 1998 and in the US on June 2. Some radio stations even aired the album in its entirety the night before. As was becoming the style, the album was leaked some weeks before the release.

The album was drastically different in approach and style, but many attested that it was still "typically Pumpkins". Despite their high profile as an angst driven rock monster, distorted guitars are notably absent from the album. Corgan offered the following explaination for the new sound: "I'm 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." Guitars in general are used sparingly throughout the 72 minutes and are used to complement the music rather than dominate it. Iha's guitar playing had reached new heights and even a new role within the band, providing many lead riffs and effects in the music rather than any rhythm playing at all.

Piano was dominant in most songs, especially in tracks like "Annie Dog", "For Martha" and "Crestfallen".

The use of electronic instruments, especially drum machines, gave the album an ambience not heard before in rock music, and one track ("Appels + Oranjes") is completely synthetic - performed entirely on electronic instruments (apart from the vocal).

The track "Tear" (as in 'to tear a piece of paper') was a song that was left off the "Lost Highway" soundtrack in favour of the electronic song "Eye". Listening carefully, one can hear the original "Lost Highway" recording in the bridge of the song. Its instrumentation is similar to that in "Eye".

Interestingly, many fans who had heard the Viper Room show (via MP3) were disappointed at the notable absence of "Blissed and Gone" (known at the time as "Need"), but it was not completely gone; the final track "17" (a track of 17 seconds of piano, accompanied by a poem in the booklet) is actually a short rendition of "Blissed and Gone"'s melody.

Apart from being the first album without Jimmy Chamberlin, "Adore" was also the first album that featured no writing contributions from Iha. This is due to his creative efforts going into his own solo album, Let it Come Down. He did however write the track "Summer" which was released as a b-side to "Perfect".

Fan reaction was generally good, as the album still retained Corgan's unique lyrics and song structure, but most fans were still disappointed with the departure from previous "heavier" music. Most became satisified with the knowledge that the band may possibly return to their rock roots.

Public reaction, however, was not quite as strong. "Ava Adore" was a successful single and drove initial interest in the album; however, the follow up single "Perfect" was not quite as strong and the success of the album lagged.

Artwork

The artwork and photography for the album booklet was designed by Corgan's at-the-time girlfriend Yelena Yemchuck.

The cover of the album, and subsequent singles and radio promo singles all feature a woman in black and white. It's assumed that the women are meant to represent the subjects of most of the songs, as many are related to love. All the models in the artwork have a crestfallen look upon their faces which matches the subject material of the songs.

The vinyl release of the album features a slightly different cover, a different photo of the model, colour and the absence of the album title. In colour, it's quite easy to see that the model is seated in a giant hibiscus flower.

The most memorable of the booklet artwork is arguably a shot of the three band members on a grassy hill, beneath a bare tree. Corgan is standing on top of the hill looking away from the camera, while Iha and D'arcy appear to be fighting through wind to reach him.

The most surprising photos were those of D'arcy, wearing a sheer blouse that revealed her breasts completely.

An Evening with The Smashing Pumpkins

The Pumpkins embarked on what would be their most ambitious tour yet. Starting in Europe and eventually making their way around most of the world, The Smashing Pumpkins played what could possibly be the most odd collection of venues played by a rock band. There was the elegant: in France, they played at the base of the Eiffel Tower and at the Cannes Film Festival and in Spain, at the Guggenheim Art Museum; and the plain weird in Sydney, Australia, they played in an International shipping depot and in Tokyo, Japan, in the back of a truck. These odd venues were usually shortened sets, however, and full shows were played in more traditional venues.

If fans were surprised at the addition of a touring keyboardist on the Mellon Collie... tour, they would be completely aghast at the troop of members the Pumpkins had recruited. The line up for the tour was:

  • Billy Corgan - Vocals and Guitar
  • James Iha - Guitar
  • D'arcy - Bass and Vocals
  • Kenny Arnoff - Drums
  • Mike Garson - Piano and Keyboards
  • Stephen Hodges - Percussion
  • Dan Morris - Percussion

Violinist Lisa Germano left the tour for undisclosed reasons very early in the first leg, and was not replaced.

This large line up enabled the band to put together new arrangements of their new songs, leaving most of them to sound quite different from their album versions. The beautiful mellow acoustic crooner "To Sheila" was turned into a lengthy powerful song with a full band, and the electronically driven single "Ava Adore" was turned into a distorted short rock song that was rich with the influence of previous Pumpkins albums.

Much to the dismay of most fans, The Smashing Pumpkins performed songs every night from a very small and strict repetoir. The new set was made up mainly of "Adore" songs, most of which were played every night, whereas others (like "Pug" and "Appels + Oranjes") were played sparingly if never at all. No songs prior to Mellon Collie... were performed, which elminated some of the band's biggest hits like "Today" and "Disarm" (it's worth noting that both of these songs were performed - acoustically - near the end of the tour, late 1998). "Bullet with Butterfly Wings", "Tonight, Tonight", "1979", "Stumbeline" and "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" were the only remainders of the band's earlier material. In an exhibit of spontaneity, Melbourne, Australia audiences were treated to an improvised version of "Zero" after chanting for the band to play it. It was the only time on the tour it was played despite being a successful single only two years earlier. An arrangement of the Joy Division song "Transmission" was also jammed on to close shows.

Conclusion

Adore entered the U.S. charts at #2 with a solid - but not exceptional - 174,000 units. After a mere eight weeks, it dropped out of the Billboard Top 40, leading Corgan to publicly blame fans for the bad sales, claiming the album hadn't been given a chance. In reality, it's far more likely that dedicated fans would be the main buyers of the album, but no interest from the general public. Still, the album was certified platinum in the U.S. Promotion for Adore finished by the end of 1998, a particularly short run for an album when considering the 2 year touring and promotion schedule for Mellon Collie.... It finished with but 2 singles (a third, "Crestfallen", was planned but never released). As of May 2005, Adore has sold 1.1 million units in the U.S.

In terms of commercialism, Adore was not a success, especially when compared to their previous album Mellon Collie... which was able to sell almost 5 million units in the US, but it still remains a staple part of The Smashing Pumpkins' rich history. Songs from the album were still performed in subsequent tours for MACHINA/The Machines of God with Jimmy Chamberlin back at the drums.

Track listing

  1. "To Sheila" - 4:40
  2. "Ava Adore" - 4:20
  3. "Perfect" - 3:23
  4. "Daphne Descends" - 4:38
  5. "Once upon a Time" - 4:06
  6. "Tear" - 5:52
  7. "Crestfallen" - 4:09
  8. "Appels + Oranjes" - 3:34
  9. "Pug" - 4:46
  10. "The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete" - 4:33
  11. "Annie-Dog" - 3:36
  12. "Shame" - 6:37
  13. "Behold! the Night Mare" - 5:12
  14. "For Martha" - 8:17
  15. "Blank Page" - 4:51
  16. "17" - 0:17

Outtakes

  • The following songs are those that were written and recorded for "Adore" but did not make the final cut, were not complete or did not get past the demo stage. It is rumoured there are another 15 finished songs left from the recording sessions, but those are not known to the public:
  • "Saturnine"
  • "Waiting"
  • "Blissed and Gone"
  • "Czarina"
  • "Once in a While"
  • "Summer"
  • "Cash Car Star"
  • "Let Me Give the World to You"
  • "Chewing Gum" (demo)

Personnel

  • Billy Corgan - Producer, Art Direction, Design, Mixing, Group Member
  • D'arcy - Group Member
  • Flood - Mixing
  • James Iha - Group Member
  • Chris Shepard - Engineer
  • Bjorn Thorsrud - Engineer, Digital Editing
  • Howie Weinberg - Mastering
  • Howard Willing - Engineer, Assistant Engineer
  • Brad Wood - Producer, Engineer
  • Neal Perry - Engineer
  • Matt Cameron - Drums (on "For Martha")
  • Joey Waronker - Drums
  • Robbie Adams - Engineer, Mixing
  • Bon Harris - Programming
  • Ron Lowe - Assistant Engineer
  • Andy VanDette - Digital Editing, Compilation
  • Eric Greedy - Mixing
  • Frank Olinsky - Art Direction, Design
  • Matt Walker - Drums
  • Jimmy Flemion - Producer
  • Ed Tinley - Assistant Engineer
  • Yelena Yemchuk - Art Direction, Design, Photography
  • Jay Nicholas - Mixing
  • Matt Prock - Assistant Engineer
  • Jeff Vereb - Engineer
  • Steve Johnson - Assistant Engineer

Chart positions

Album

1998   Adore        The Billboard 200          No. 2
1998   Adore        Top Canadian Albums        No. 2

Singles

1998   Ava Adore    The Billboard Hot 100      No. 42
1998   Perfect      The Billboard Hot 100      No. 54
1998   Ava Adore    Mainstream Rock Tracks     No. 8
1998   Ava Adore    Modern Rock Tracks         No. 3
1998   Perfect      Modern Rock Tracks         No. 3
1998   Ava Adore    Canadian Singles Chart     No. 9
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