The Smashing Pumpkins and the underrated Adore

The Smashing Pumpkins 1998 (

The Smashing Pumpkins 1998 (fltr: D’Arcy Wretzky, Billy Corgan, James Iha)


After reaching the top with the stunning Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, public and private disasters were next. The Smashing Pumpkins were heading towards an unsure future and resurfaced with Adore. Different, more introvert and electronic, yet still great.

En route to Adore

As stated in the article on masterpiece Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins wanted (almost) nothing more than being successful. Siamese Dream was the second step towards that goal, but double album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness catapulted the band to superstardom. All singles (no less than 5!) were hits, the album sold over 10 million copies. The relationship within the band was at an all-time high, James Iha and D’Arcy Wretzky had even been granted input to the album, and The Smashing Pumpkins seemed to have become a true band.

While on yet another world tour, the boxset The Aeroplane Flies High (1996) was released, a 5 cd set containing all the Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness singles, complemented with B-sides, pictures and lyrics. Initially 200,000 copies were pressed, but the demand was so high that many more were manufactured. Early 1997 the band released the song Eye as part of the soundtrack to David Lynch’s movie Lost Highway. Later that year the band supplied The End Is The Beginning Is The End to the soundtrack for the Batman & Robin movie.

The Smashing Pumpkins 1998 (

The Smashing Pumpkins 1998


The world tour promoting Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness took place from January 1996 to February 1997. All shows were sold out. Everything seemed to point to a glorious future. But, at the show in Dublin on May 11, 1996, it all went terribly wrong. Despite the band’s pleading to stop the ‘moshing’, a 17 year old fan was crushed to death. The show was cancelled as was the next day’s show (which was to take place in Dublin as well).

But that wasn’t all, during the early hours of July 11, 1996, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin (brother of Wendy & Lisa’s Wendy Melvoin) overdosed on heroin. Melvoin would not survive and Chamberlin was arrested. The next day the band reacted: “It is with great sadness that this morning, Jonathan Melvoin, who has been touring with our band as a keyboardist and percussionist for the past six months, passed away from an apparent drug overdose. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go to his wife and family”. On July 17 the band released the following statement:

Today we are very sorry to tell our friends and fans that we have decided to sever our relationship with our friend and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. This may come as a shock to some, to others not, but to us it is devastating. For nine years we have battled with Jimmy’s struggles with the insidious disease of drug and alcohol addiction. It has nearly destroyed everything we are and stand for. We have decided to carry on without him and we wish him the best that we have to offer. The three of us plan to seek an immediate replacement and to finish the touring that we had started at the beginning of this year. We would like to thank everyone for their well wishes and support in this very tragic week.
The Smashing Pumpkins: Billy, D’Arcy and James.

In August the tour was continued with drummer Matt Walker and keyboard player Dennis Flemion. Later, Corgan described the decision to go on with the tour as the worst decision the band has ever made.

A year after the passing of Melvoin, Laura Melvoin, Jonathan Melvoin’s widow, filed a lawsuit against the band, stating they hadn’t done enough to keep her husband off drugs. The lawsuit was settled out of court for the amount of $10,001.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Virgin press kit (

The Smashing Pumpkins – Virgin press kit


Late 1996 James Iha said: “The future is in electronic music. It really seems boring just to play rock music”. The song Eye had already provided an impression of the new course for The Smashing Pumpkins. Electronics, synthesizers, more mellow music? Was that the way of the future?

On their journey to “one of the most anticipated albums of 1998” the band was in turmoil, in part caused by Jimmy Chamberlin’s departure, (because of that) being forced to face a new dynamic within the band, the pressure put on the band to come up with another success and being unsure which road to take musically speaking. On top of that, leader Corgan was going through a divorce and his mother died while recordings took place…

Immediately following the end of the world tour for Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness in February 1997, recording demos for the new album commenced. Once again inspiration struck, over 30 songs were written and recorded, a number that was scaled down to 14 (and ultimately 15). The next release was not going to be another double album.

After playing a couple of shows on festivals over the summer of 1997, the band moved to Sunset Sound studio’s in Los Angeles, where Corgan took on production duties for the album. Chamberlin’s departure made Corgan utilize a drum machine. During the recording sessions multiple drummers were asked to contribute, which didn’t necessarily lead to using the recorded parts in the released versions of the respective songs.

In the meantime the (rock) world was eagerly awaiting the next step by the indie darlings. Contradictory messages were published. On February 16, 1998, Corgan lifted a little corner of the veil: “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”. On May 18, 1998, the world received its first taste with the release of the (fantastic) single Ava Adore. The video to the song was premiered on June 1, 1998, one day before the release of Adore.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore (

The Smashing Pumpkins – Adore


On June 2, 1998, The Smashing Pumpkins released their fourth album: Adore. Gone were the heavy guitars of Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. It almost seemed as if the band had done everything within their power to not do what they were so revered for. Instead they offered lowkey, at times very dark, music, lots of electronics, synthesizers and moody vocals and instrumentation. No less than 5 songs were centered around the piano.

Despite raving reviews, the album sold poorly, certainly in comparison to the preceding album. Within 5 weeks the album was certified platinum, but after that it was done. The album soon vanished from the charts and would not return. Was it all too pessimistic and dark?


I love Adore, to me it is almost in the same league as Siamese Dream. The mood, the music, the doom, the resignation, I think it’s all equally beautiful. It probably partly stems from the 1980s vibe I hear, the era I grew up in. When the album quietly starts I am immediately sold:

twilight fades
through blistered avalon
the sky’s cruel torch
on arching autobahn
into the uncertain divine
we scream into the last divine

© 1998 Billy Corgan

The second song, and first single off the album, Ava Adore is fantastic, but the line “it’s you that I adore / you will always be my whore” is somewhat dubious. According to Corgan the song reflects his frustration with the other sex and it is far removed from being romantic. Nevertheless, a great song accompanied by a truly impressive video.

Second single Perfect sounds like a moving love song, but is ironic in its core. Daphne Descends introduces the rest of the album perfectly. Drone like music, dark and heavy melodies that are still gloriously fine. Both singles don’t fully represent the album’s mood and, from that standpoint, proved unlucky choices.

Once Upon A Time is a personal favorite of Corgan and contains a message he wished he could have told his mother when she was still alive.

Mother I hope you know
that I miss you so
time has ravaged on my soul
to wipe a mothers tears grown cold

© 1998 Billy Corgan

The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore - Promotional photo (

The Smashing Pumpkins – Adore – Promotional photo

The next 3 songs end in Appels + Oranjes, posing an almost infinite number of “what if” questions. It was the first song to be written for Adore.

Pug has a sexual undercurrent, something The Smashing Pumpkins are no masters in. It is far from positive, in fact it’s quite the opposite. It has nothing to do with pleasure.

kiss and kill me sweetly
come and drive me home
drag the miles in me
I am yours alone

© 1998 Billy Corgan

Another 3 songs further ends in Shame, a highlight. One day Corgan woke up, wrote the song, drove to the studio, recorded it in 2 hours and left it as it was. Great story for a a beautiful song.

Next up is For Martha, an impressive tribute to Corgan’s mother, a definite highlight in the band’s body of work. Great instrumentation, great build, moving melody, on the most acoustic song on the album. The song climaxes in a fantastic guitar solo by Corgan.

if you have to go don’t say goodbye
if you have to go don’t you cry
if you have to go I will get by
someday I’ll follow you and see you on the other side

© 1998 Billy Corgan

The album closes off with Blank Page, a piano ball. All releases, bar vinyl, contain the 19 second 17 as the closer.

This album comes highly recommended, even though not everything works equally well. The album’s overall mood is unique. It’s a bold release for a band that was known for their dynamic rock. I always admire the experiments within bands’ or musicians’ bodies of work, because it shows what’s really going on and where the true meanings and/or lessons lie. The same goes for Adore.

The albums brings comfort and shows why The Smashing Pumpkins are called one of the greats coming out of the 1990s.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore - The singles (

The Smashing Pumpkins – Adore – The singles


Two singles were culled from the album.

  • Ava Adore
    (released on May 18, 1998)
  • Perfect
    (released on September 7, 1998)


All songs written by Billy Corgan.

  • To Sheila
  • Ava Adore
  • Perfect
  • Daphne Descends
  • Once Upon A Time
  • Tear
  • Crestfallen
  • Appels + Oranjes
  • Pug
  • The Tale Of Dusty And Pistol Pete
  • Annie-Dog
  • Shame
  • Behold! The Night Mare
  • For Martha
  • Blank Page
  • 17

17 not available on the vinyl version. The Japanese edition contained Once In A While as an extra song.

The Smashing Pumpkins 1998 (Polaroids) (

The Smashing Pumpkins 1998 (Polaroids)


  • Billy Corgan – vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards
  • James Iha – guitar, vocals
  • D’Arcy Wretzky – bass, guitar (uncredited)

Guest musicians

  • Matt Walker – drums on To Sheila, Ava Adore, Daphne Descends, Tear, The Tale Of Dusty And Pistol Pete, Annie-Dog, Behold! The Night Mare
  • Matt Cameron – drums on For Martha
  • Joey Waronker – drums on Perfect, Once Upon A Time, Pug
  • Dennis Flemion – vocals on To Sheila, Behold! The Night Mare
  • Jimmy Flemion – vocals on To Sheila, Behold! The Night Mare
  • Bon Harris – programming on Ava Adore, Perfect, Daphne Descends, Once Upon A Time, Crestfallen, Appels + Oranjes, Pug, Behold! The Night Mare; vocals on For Martha
  • Brad Wood – vocals on Behold! The Night Mare, organ on Blank Page
The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore - Remaster (

The Smashing Pumpkins – Adore – Remaster


Special attention for the album’s remaster, which was released on September 23, 2014. The complete remaster series of all the early Smashing Pumpkins albums should be a template for the way projects of that kind should be handled (as far as I’m concerned). All albums up to and including Adore are part of the series and every release is special, elaborate and beautifully packaged and has many extras, like unreleased material, rehearsals, live recordings and DVD’s. This applies to the Adore release as well, that contains no less than 5 (!) extra discs and a DVD.

Disc 2: Adore Mono Remastered

  • To Sheila
  • Ava Adore
  • Perfect
  • Daphne Descends
  • Once Upon A Time
  • Tear
  • Crestfallen
  • Appels + Oranjes
  • Pug
  • The Tale Of Dusty And Pistol Pete
  • Annie-Dog
  • Shame
  • Behold! The Night Mare
  • For Martha
  • Blank Page

Disc 3: In A State Of Passage

  • Blissed and Gone (Sadlands demo)
  • Christmastime (Sadlands demo)
  • My Mistake (Sadlands demo)
  • Sparrow (Sadlands demo)
  • Valentine (Sadlands demo)
  • The Tale Of Dusty And Pistol Pete (Sadlands demo)
  • What If? (Alternate version of Appels + Oranjes / Streeterville demo)
  • Chewing Gum (CRC demo)
  • The Tale Of Dusty And Pistol Pete (CRC demo)
  • The Ethers Tragic (CRC demo – instrumental)
  • The Guns Of Love Disastrous (CRC demo – instrumental)
  • Annie-Dog (CRC demo/Take 10)
  • Once In A While (CRC demo)
  • Do You Close Your Eyes When You Kiss Me? (CRC demo)
  • For Martha (CRC demo/Take 1)
  • My Mistake (CRC demo/Take 1)
  • Blissed And Gone (CRC demo)
  • For Martha (CRC demo/Take 2 – instrumental)

Disc 4: Chalices, Palaces And Deep Pools

  • For Martha (Symphonic Snippet – instrumental)
  • Crestfallen (Matt Walker 2014 “Reimagined” version)
  • To Sheila (Early Banjo version)
  • Ava Adore (Puffy Combs 1998 remix)
  • O Rio (Sadlands Demo – instrumental)
  • Waiting
  • Once Upon a Time (Sadlands demo)
  • Eye (2014 mix)
  • Saturnine (Piano and voice version)
  • Cash Car Star (Matt Walker 2014 “Reimagined” version)
  • Pug (Matt Walker 2014 “Reimagined” version)
  • Perfect (No strings version)
  • It’s Alright (instrumental)
  • Czarina (Take 1)
  • Indecision (Sadlands demo)
  • Blank Page (Early version)
The Smashing Pumpkins - Ava Adore video (

The Smashing Pumpkins – Ava Adore video

Disc 5: Malice, Callous And Fools

  • Let Me Give The World To You (Rick Rubin/Adore version)
  • Tear (From digital transfer)
  • Cross
  • Because You Are
  • Jersey Shore (Sadlands demo)
  • Shame (Take 1)
  • Summer (Instrumental) (James Iha)
  • Blissed And Gone (Drone version)
  • Heaven (Sadlands demo – instrumental)
  • Daphne Descends (Matt Walker 2014 “Reimagined” version)
  • Saturnine (Matt Walker 2014 “Reimagined” version)
  • Behold! The Night Mare (Alternate vocal)
  • Perfect (Acoustic demo)
  • Do You Close Your Eyes?
  • The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning

Disc 6: Kissed Alive Too

  • Ava Adore (Live/São Paulo session)
  • Daphne Descends (Live/São Paulo session)
  • The Tale Of Dusty And Pistol Pete (Live/São Paulo session)
  • Tear (Live/São Paulo session)
  • Shame (Live Mancow’s Morning Madhouse session, Chicago)
  • Blank Page (Live Mancow’s Morning Madhouse session, Chicago)
  • To Sheila (Live at Ryman Auditorium, Nashville)
  • Money (That’s What I Want) (Live at Dodger Stadium, LA) (Berry Gordy Jr., Janie Bradford)
  • X.Y.U. Medley (Live at Dodger Stadium, LA) (Billy Corgan, Benjamin Rossi, Larry Carter, Debora Iyall, Peter Wood, Frank Zincavage)
  • Transmission (Live at rehearsals, Chicago) (Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris)

DVD: Fox Theater, Atlanta, GA

The live DVD contains the full show the band played on August 4, 1998 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • To Sheila
  • Behold! The Night Mare
  • Pug
  • Crestfallen
  • Ava Adore
  • Tear
  • Annie-Dog
  • Perfect
  • Thru The Eyes Of Ruby
  • Tonight, Tonight
  • Once Upon A Time
  • The Tale Of Dusty And Pistol Pete
  • Bullet With Butterfly Wings
  • Shame
  • For Martha
  • Blank Page
  • Transmission (Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris)
The Smashing Pumpkins - Minneapolis 07/17/1998 (

The Smashing Pumpkins – Minneapolis 07/17/1998

After Adore

The Adore tour started before the album was even released, on May 12, 1998, at the BBC Studios in London. Following a couple of shows in Europe (one being a show in The Netherlands at the Pinkpop festival), Australia and Japan, the band toured the US from the end of June to early August and closed the tour in South America. All proceeds from the US shows were donated to various charities.

On July 17, 1998, the band played a free concert in downtown Minneapolis. The organization was totally overwhelmed by the success. Between 100 and 125 thousand people showed up to the concert, which is still regarded as one of the musical highlights in Minneapolis.

The emphasis in the setlist was geared to Adore, supplemented with a couple of Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness songs, which were newly arranged. Songs released before 1995 were not played at all (so nothing off masterpiece Siamese Dream).

On April 15, 1999, it was announced that Chamberlin had returned to the band, after which recording sessions for a new album soon started. After finishing the recordings, D’Arcy Wretzky left the band on October 18, 1999. More on that in an article on Machina/The Machines Of God.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore - Logo (

In closing

What’s your opinion on Adore and The Smashing Pumpkins? Let me know!

This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: The Smashing Pumpkins and the underrated Adore. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!