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August 04, 1993 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1993-08-04

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8-The Michigan Daily Summer Weely - WednesdayAugust 4,1993
Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.'
- Pablo Picasso
ARTS
S'imply Smashing
'Siamese Dream' brims over with hope

A

By SCOTT STERLING
Two fresh-faced little angels, all
dressed in white with delicate wings
upon their narrow shoulders, grace the
cover of "Siamese Dream." Onelooks
you in the eye, radiating with laughter
and innocence. The other is seeing
what lies ahead, wide-eyed and hope-
fuL.
WhenGreatPumpkinBilly Corgan
wails"Letmeout'attheendof"Cherub
Rock,"hisscathingdiatribeagainstthe
corporate mainstream industry that
"alternative" rock pretends not to be,
the plea is simply moot. With the re-
lease of "Siamese Dream," the long-
awaitedfollow-up to their frankly bril-
liantdebut"gish,"theSmashingPump-
kins(whichisbasicallyCorgan'sbrain-
child) have transcended any and all
trine categorizations. Combining ele-
ments of heavy metal muscle, blissful
atmospherics, '70s prog-rock and one
hell of a vision, the Pumpkins may
havereleasedthequintessentialAmeri-
can guitar album of our time. Like the
little girls on the cover, "Siamese
Dream" is an optimistic new start.
With somanyrockbandscannibal-
izing each otherrehashinglast week's
soup of the day (i.e. the Stone Temple
Pilots' blatant and depressingly suc-

cessful racket of being every popular
Seattle band at once), the Smashing
Pumpkins look to influences that pre-
date the Lollapalooza festivals and
create something fresh, vital and new.
Musically, this disc is a bona fide
tour de force. Corgan and hot-shot
knob-twiddler Butch Vig (L7, Nir-
vana) have assembled asonic master-
piece.Guitarsof allshapes,colors and
sizes gloriously scream, squiggle and
squeal,effortlesslypullingkillerhooks
and catchy melodies out of the
cocophony.FlourishesofHendrix,My
Bloody Valentine and Led Zeppelin
ooze out of the dense wall of guitar
noisethatpermeatesnearly every inch
of "Siamese Dream."
Cerebralstomperslike"Quiet"will
have neurons firing like there's no
tomorrow, while fiery numbers like
"Geek U.S.A." fuck with your mind
righteously,reducing amonstrousSab-
bath groove down to a whisperbefore
detonating the song intonextyear with
a solo that would do Vernon Reid
proud. And there's more: gorgeous
string arrangements that sound like
early Bowieriding the spaceship from
ELO's "Out Of The Blue" (on
"Spaceboy"), sly references to the
Beatles' bombastic ending of "A Day

Smashing Pumpkins' new album, "Siamese Dream," is nothing less than a sonic masterpiece.

_i

In The Life" (on "Rocket") - these
kids ain't no joke.
If Billy Corgan really did have a
nervousbreakdownmaking this record,
the lyrics on "Siamese Dream" cer-
tainly make no bones about it. Corgan
lays himself completely bare here,
searching for some slim sliver of hope
in the murky melancholia. He giddily
bursts out with lines like "Today is the
greatest day I've ever known" on "To-
day," while in the same song sighfully

resigning "I wanted more than life
could ever grant me." Such disarm-
ingly honest declarations give
"Siamese Dream" such a sense of ur-
gency, it's like reading someone's di-
ary set to a noise-laden lullaby.
It's impossible to really do this
record justice in a mere review.
"Siamese Dream" is so full of subtle-
ties and nuances, cathartic wailings
and gentle musings that it truly has to
be experienced to be believed. If

"Siamese Dream" doesn't make the
Smashing Pumpkins bigger than Nir-
vana, there's simply no justice.
The one allothers will be measured
by in 1993 and beyond.
SMASHING PUMPKINS plays the
Pontiac PhoenixAmpitheatre with
BIG CHIE, CATHERINE and
FROGS this Saturday. Doors at 5:30
p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 335-4850
for more information.

A'

BOOKS

Game Over
David Sheff
Random House
By OLIVER CIANCOLA
David Sheff's "Game Over"
("GO") details the rise of one of the
world's most successful companies-
Nintendo.
Nintendobegan as amaker of play-
ing cards in late 19th-century Japan.
After World War B, Nintendo moved
into toys, particularly electronic toys.

Donkey Kong, released in 1981, was
Nintendo's first big success in the
video game industry in Japan and,
later, in the United States. Since then,
Nintendo has fought tooth-and-nail to
achieveitsnear-monopoly ofthehome
video game market. Sheff offers a
behind-the-scenes look at the corpo-
rate maneuvering thatmade Nintendo
the billion-dollar company itis today.
If Nintendo or the business world
does not interest you, "GOmaybore

you.Althoughthe book'ssubtitleclaims
that Sheff shows "How Nintendo
Zapped an American Industry, Cap-
tured YourDollars,and Enslaved Your
Children," he does not deliver.
The "child slavery" issue is an ex-
ample. At the end of Chapter 9 Sheff
concludes, "People who complain that
Nintendo-obsessesedchildrenaremiss-
ingoutonsocialskillsdon'tunderstand
theNintendocult.The exclusive clubis
asocialnetwork formillionsofkids. To
. getin,youdon'tneed tobe astar athlete
or the coolest or most peculiar kid in
class. Allyouneeded[sic]isaNintendo
system, or access to one (at a friend's,
a clubhouse, or at school)."
Sheffhasarosy view ofNintendo's

social benefits. Every kid knows that
to get in the exclusive Nintendo club,
you cannot merely have "access" to a
Nintendo, you actually have to own
one. This is why children nag their
parentstobuy themtheirownNintendo,
as Sheff himself describes. Whilekids
do talk to one another about Nintendo,
they do so only with other Nintendo
owners. These friendships are often
based solely on Nintendo ownership.
The Nintendo "cult" encourages chil-
drento pick friends basedon what they
own. This is hardly something we
should applaud, as Sheff does.
Sheff is equally uncritical of
Nintendo's alleged racism. In 1990,
employees of Nintendo of America

charged NOA with racial discrimina-
tion. NOA officials denied the charges
saying that the company "employed
110 ethnic minorities, anumber repre-
senting 14.3 percent of the permanent
work force. (The percentage included
all minorities, including Japanese)"
[emphasis added].
Sheff is content to accept NOA's
denials.Hedoesnotcitewhatpositions
these employees held or how many of
them were Japanese, even though he
could have learned these things when
he interviewed NOA's top managers
orwhenhe visitedNOA'sSeattlehead-
quarters. Sheff simply does not push
Nintendo hard enough.
Sheff's uncritical stance makes
"GO" a dull read. Unless you really
like Nintendo or big business, "GO"
may not hold your interest.

I I

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II

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