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The Smashing Pumpkins, fronted by the oft outspoken Billy Corgan, hailed from Chicago way back in 1988. After selling a million copies of their debut album, Gish, back in 1991, they were thrust into the rock headlights as part of the new grunge movement led by Nirvana, and which involved other rising American bands such as Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails. To be lumped in with such other luminaries might have made sense from a publicity point of view, but really in sonic terms there was no comparison. The Smashing Pumpkins sound nothing like their supposed peers, either before, during or since. However, being placed in such illustrious company did expose them to a wider audience, for better or worse.
Siamese dream came out in 1993, and despite selling 4 million copies, was never quite placed in the same cannon as Nirvana's Nevermind, although musically it is far stronger and shows a far greater depth of songwriting. It was Kurt Cobain who was hailed the saviour of a generation, but you always got the feeling that while Kurt Cobain was a reluctant leader, Billy Corgan was irked that he got pushed into second place. His obsession with the media and success continues to this day, and after Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994 and the beginning of the decline of the American grunge/alt rock movement, he had a point to prove with the Pumpkins' next album. And what a point it was.
Mellon Collie is a double album weighing in with 28 tracks lasting around 140 minutes in total. It is a colossal, genre-spanning epic that even Billy Corgan's harshest critics deem a masterpiece.
Here's my take on it.
First of all, to define the Pumpkins' sound - the Smashing Pumpkins are alternative rock, not grunge. A lot of their songs contain dropped tunings but this is mostly to create a darker feel rather than to create dirgy chords. Their influences are far more classic rock than many of their peers, while they have a distinct Big Muff sound that is really their own. Many of their songs contain octave chords and their solos vary from the lyrical to the dischordant, near incomprehensible. And then, of course, there are Billy Corgan's vocals, a whiny, reedy screech that in all probability, while giving them a unique sound, have kept them just that one step away from the truly mainstream success enjoyed by the likes of U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Now to the album. First the positives -
The track listing is flawless. The album ebbs and flows perfectly, with each song complimenting the next. You have the polite solo piano of the title track followed by the string-laden bombast of first single, Tonight Tonight, then the heavy rocker Jellybelly. No two songs sound the same, and no two songs that sound similar follow each other.
The Pumpkins are known for their eight or nine minute epics and there are several of them here - An Ode to No One, Porcelina, XYU. On later albums such epics have become almost compulsory, and are often long, tired dirges repeating the same riff. Not here - each "epic" is well worthy of its place.
Despite every song being good (they are), Mellon Collie contains some of the most spine-tingling bridge/refrain sections ever put to record - see Bodies, 1979, Beautiful, Galapagos.
The lyrics are among Billy Corgan's best. They veer from profound (Ruby - "Youth is wasted on the young") to personal (Muzzle - "I fear that I am ordinary"), to the just plain awesome (Zero - "Fashion victims chew their charcoal teeth").
Now some criticisms. I prefer to call them that rather than negetives because they don't detract from the quality of the music.
It's very long. Overly so. It's nearly impossible to listen to all the way through because it's just so dense with sound. I tried once and failed; I prefer to tackle one disc at a time!
It's quite inaccessible for non-fans. Most Pumpkins records are a departure from the previous one, alienating a lot of fans and often they struggle to bring in the casual listener. (They followed up this monster with a slower, piano-led album). There are a lot of "odd" songs, such as the almost childlike Cupid De Locke, the big band drum/piano piece Lily, the plain strange We Only Come out at Night, that a casual listener will quite clearly think, "What the hell is this?" on first listen. Only with repeated listens do you begin to appreciate the true depth of the songwriting.
Some great songs were actually recorded but left off the album, such as Ugly, God, Set the Ray to Jerry, all of which later appeared as B-sides but would grace most bands' albums. Billy Corgan has a habit of doing this. Great songs left off other albums include Hello Kitty Cat off Siamese Dream, Let me Give the World to You off Adore, and my personal chagrin, Speed Kills left off Machina. Search youtube for the recorded version of Speed Kills and tell me how any musician in their right mind could leave a song as good as that off an album. He must have been out of his mind.
The recording of Mellon Collie (six months of ten hours a day, apparently) amidst band bust ups and increasing drug use pretty much destroyed the band. The dramas that went on in the years after would take too much time to go through here but they were never the same again. Mellon Collie was a creative and commercial peak for the Pumpkins, and Billy Corgan, who was 27 at the time has never got over it. To this day his new "Pumpkins" (himself and some hired hands) continue to aspire to these great heights, with ever decreasing returns.
Overall, this is a rock album that any serious rock fan should at least listen to at some point. The Smashing Pumpkins divide opinion like few other bands, but whether you love him or hate him (I vary from day to day) if a soccer-style league table of popular music song writers was created Billy Corgan would be right up there in the Premiership, somewhere near the top, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is his finest (2 and a bit) hour(s).
Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is, in my opinion, by far The Pumpkins most accomplished album. It is a seminal record in terms of 90's alternative rock (I hesitate to use the term 'Grunge' because there is a definite insistence on melody and musicianship here). For me The Smashing Pumpkins can be a bit hit and miss, and at times a bit self indulgent, but on Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness The Pumpkins are well and truly in the groove!
The album begins with the instrumental, piano orientated title track Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness which then gives way to 'Tonight, Tonight' which is undoubtedly the bands biggest hit to date. The album flits between the lyrical and mellifluous tones of 'Tonight, Tonight', 'Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' and 'To Forgive', and the scorching, crunching riffs of tracks like 'Zero', 'Jellybelly' and 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings'. At times the album is downbeat, introspective and mournful, at others it is frantic, vitriolic and exhilarating. It shows off Billy Corgan's song writing skills in stark relief across a wide range of styles.
The album is a double album, which makes it somewhat of an epic and a rareity in the world of alternative rock. Despite the eclectic mix of styles, the songs seem to flow naturally from one into the next, meaning that Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness really feels like a complete work in its own right, rather than just a collection of disconnected songs.
This album is amongst my favourite of all time, if only for its bold mix of genres and unforgettable tracks. To be fair, I don't think there is a bad song on this album. Personal favourites for me include '1979', 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings' and 'To Forgive'. There really is something for everyone on this album, whether you are looking for hard rocking guitar riffs or subtle orchestral numbers.
Albums like this don't come along very often, do yourself a favour and buy, beg or borrow a copy today.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (MCIS) is an epic effort from the Smashing Pumpkins, spanning 2 CDs and 28 songs. Billy Corgan and Co. don't leave many stones unturned and they leave no dank, festering nook of the soul unexplored.
It's hard to describe this expansive album for the simple reason that no two of its songs are alike. To assess the album as a whole would be like trying to offer a collective, one-syllable term which describes the colours of the rainbow. This, however, is probably the main flaw the album has; a case of "jack of all trades, master of none"...well, "master of quite a lot" would be more fair. The majority of the songs sound polished and refined, but many of them sound like they barely made it out of demo status. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the rawness afforded to these songs is probably one of their draws. For instance, "To Forgive", a personal favourite of mine from the album, sounds like they intentionally under-produced it, further exposing the skinless nerve endings which inspired the writing of it. If it was intentional, bravo, if not, well...it still works, but that might have been accidental. The song has a solitary, clean-toned guitar picking simple chords throughout and the vocals are equally devoid of any kind of studio magic, leaving their nakedness to the mercy of the elements. This is why I enjoy this song, and why it probably took several listens for me to come to enjoy as much as I do.
The singles are phenomenal achievements and their selection to be released as singles was well advised. Bullet With Butterfly Wings, which may have usurped Geek U.S.A. from Siamese Dream as being the harshest rock song they've recorded to date, led the way to the charts and it never fails to get a mosh pit flowing like a human lava lamp at live gigs. Likewise Zero is a real crowd pleaser which a definite place in the history of great rock songs, with its punchy guitar tone and shattering drum work. 1979, by contrast - stark contrast - is a warm, peaceful, nostalgic trip down a specific lane in Memory Village accompanied by a techno drum machine and stripped-down guitars playing simple octave chord-based riffs for the verses and strummed power chords with open strings for the choruses. Effective, subtle and an example of how proper musicianship can carry the song all by itself without the need of a producer fleshing it out more than it requires. Tonight, Tonight is the first song casual Pumpkins fans will mention when a discussion of the band gets started, but for me it falls short of the perfection and the majesty that is Thirty-Three. Tonight, Tonight was probably more chart-friendly, but when have the charts ever had any meaningful grasp of art? Never, that's when.
Thirty-Three is a perfectly crafted song, and perfectly produced. If you haven't heard MCIS before, or indeed if you've never heard the Smashing Pumpkins before, make this song your first or at least second port of call. There has been much speculation about the meaning of Thirty-Three, such as the title being a reference to the age Christ was when he was crucified, and certain passages from the lyrics are often used to bolster that notion. However, Billy Corgan (the Pumpkins' primary songwriter and lyricist) stated during an episode of VH1 Storytellers that the genesis of the song arose from an encounter he had with a medium (I know, I know...) who told him something significant would happen to him when he reached 33 years of age. Listening to song with Christ in mind, however, it's almost uncanny how easily you could imagine the song being about him.
Nine times platinum isn't something to be sniffed at; this album has touched a nerve with everyone who has listened to it, and if you have the time and patience the album deserves you'll undoubtedly feel the same. The slightly below standard production of some of the songs aside, there's not much you can criticise this album for. It's a double-album, 28 songs, and it costs the price of a single album. Guns 'n' Roses had a similar idea but decided to release both halves of their album as separate albums (Use Your Illusion I & II) on the same day, thereby doubling their profits. The Pumpkins could have followed suit but chose not to, and I think they should be met half-way in their altruism and that their work should be heard.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by the Smashing Pumpkins was one of the most influential albums of the 90's. Its music defined a generation, with a collection of some eclectic music that really broke new ground in the rock world. This album has been the inspiration for so many musicians in recent years and is one of my personal all time favourite albums. It has everything! Some simply beautiful songs and some real grunge head bangers. It's also a double album which is very unusual in modern music. It came out way back in 1995, Billy Corgan is the lead singer and songwriter and he shows exactly what kind of talent he has in this offering.
So why was this album such a massive hit internationally? And more importantly for the purpose of this review, how do I feel about it? Well I love the name of the album and the artwork is beautiful, but that has no influence on me. It's all about the music for me! So here is what I think of each and every track. Bear with me, as this is a long album!
CD 1 - (The red one)
1. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - Simple yet beautiful piano instrumental. Nothing really special about this song, it's just a nice relaxed introduction to the album. If you were familiar with Smashing Pumpkins before you heard this song, you may be surprised at such a slow start to the album. 8/10
2. Tonight Tonight - Classic track. This was one of the first Pumpkins songs I ever heard and it made me fall in love with the band instantly. It sounds as if they have got an entire orchestra playing along, and it works so well. A wonderful song! 10/10
3. Jellybelly - Bang! The album suddenly changes. Very heavy grunge rock, not a song I'm a huge fan of. It's just a little to heavy. But still Corgan's vocals seem to cut through the distortion amazingly and give the song some plus points. 7/10
4. Zero - Another heavy one. Starts with a big guitar riff, which continues throughout the song. Again this one is too heavy for my liking. 6/10
5. Here Is No Why - This one slows the pace back down. Still some quite heavy guitar but not that relentless pace of the previous two songs. I find it really hard to hear the lyrics in this song, which spoils it a little bit for me. Not a bad song though. 7/10
6. Bullet With Butterfly Wings - 'The world is a vampire'. I love that first line. This song is pure magic; it's so dark and menacing and has a really angry feeling to it. 'Despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage'. Sinister line in the chorus, which screams power and feeling. A rock song that is so powerful and stirs the emotions wonderfully. 10/10
7. To Forgive - Slows the pace right back down with this one. This is however quite a week song in my opinion. It lacks any real drive or purpose and just kind of meanders along with out every getting anywhere. 6/10
8. An Ode To No One - Pace is right back up here. Fast and heavy. This is pure grunge and again has a really morbid dark feel to it. I quite like the rhythm but the lyrics are drowned out too much for my liking. 7/10
9. Love - This is such a weird intro. It feels like it's getting in your head and your swimming through treacle. It's bizarre but works so well. The music kind of buzzes along and mashes your head. Sometimes I love this song, sometimes I just can't listen to it, and it is just like nothing I have ever heard. And for that reason alone think it deserves 9/10
10. Cupid De Locke - After having your head smashed about you need to relax. This song provides the answer. It's cute, it's sweet and it's clever. A really nice little song. 8/10
11. Galapogos - A very quiet long intro, reminds me of waves lapping the shoreline. Another quite slow song, but this one builds up. So it feels like you're on a journey and your actually getting somewhere. Very clever song that I enjoy. 89/10
12. Muzzle - Corgan screams out 'I feel that I'm ordinary, just like everyone' as an intro to this song. It sounds so raw and full of passion. Then the guitars flare up in the background, but somehow they are toned down a little. 'My life has been extraordinary, blessed and cursed as one'. Think that is a wonderful line that really sums up so many people's lives and is a wonderfully philosophical way to view life. 9/10
13. Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans - I usually think my CD player has broke at this point. The intro to this song is three minutes long, and the first minute is virtually silent, it builds up incredibly slowly before the song gets going. Is a nice song but think the massive intro is unnecessary and I don't usually have the patience to wait. If you do wait the song seems to have everything, it's over nine minutes long! There are some heavy bits and some chilled bits. Epic but not worth it. 7/10
14. Take Me Down - Slightly disappointing end to the first CD. This is another slow weak song, that really lacks purpose. I think someone else does the vocals on this song as it does sound very different, it's ok to just have in the background but not a good enough song to end the first CD. 6/10
CD 2 - (The Blue One)
1. Where Boys Fear To Tread - The previous CD started off very chilled and slow. This CD is very different. This song is loud, heavy and blows your pants off! Is a decent song but the heavy distortion again spoils the lyrics slightly. 7/10
2. Bodies - The song starts with some static feedback, then fires into life. Another heavy one, this one I like though. 'Love is suicide' repeats as the music goes quiet. A really good rock song. 8/10
3. Thirty-Three - Ahhhhhh. That's how you feel as this starts. All that pent up aggression is relieved as this one slows the pace right back down. Is just a nice song, is nothing special, the words are nice, the melody calm, just.... Nice. 8/10
4. In The Arms Of Sleep - Wandering through fog on top of a mountain, that's what this song reminds me of. It just wanders aimlessly with nothing ever really happening. Is just a little bit boring. 6/10
5. 1979 - Their best ever song? Quite possibly. Again this is just so original. I never used to like this song when it first came out, but it's one of them that grows and grows on you. The guitar riff is just bliss. It gives that real feeling of serene melancholy. 'And we don't know, just where are bones will rest'. Love that line, there are some belting lyrics in this song; it just seems to do everything. Think this has to be one of my all time favourite songs. 10/10
6. Tales Of A Scorched Earth - Extremely heavy. You awake from the bliss of the previous song and hit the ground hard!! This song grabs you by the nasal hair and shakes you like a sack of beans! It really blows away the cobwebs, but for me is way way way, to heavy! Corgan just screams in the background. 6/10
7. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby - One of the great features of this album is the way the songs flow. You have a bone-shattering offering, then something that totally negates it. This song does that; it chills you back down to earth. It's not one of the best tracks and there are some heavier moments but it just fits nicely into the album structure. 7/10
8. Stumbleine - Another really mystical sounding track. Serene and beautiful, 'I'll be your Stumbleine, I'll be your super queen'. Have no idea what that means but its sounds good. And I love the line 'Misspent youth thinking up a rampage'. There is an 'F' word in this song which may upset a few people and it is strange in such a chilled song. Still a very nice song I enjoy though. 9/10
9. X.Y.U - What does that stand for I hear you yell! Xtra yellow umbrella? X-ray young umpalumpas? Sorry, I am clueless on this one. Quite a heavy song with a huge guitar riff. Not a fan of this song. 6/10
10. We Only Come Out At Night - Delightful romp! Just a really strange song, unlike anything else on the album. I do really like this one though, its just fantastically unique. Some different sounds and different instruments and just a really fresh sound. Because it's just so original I give it 9/10
11. Beautiful - Sums it up really. Just another nice chilled song. Showing that the band is not just about screaming angry lyrics. They have obviously had some pleasant experiences in life, which come out in this song. Makes me think of sitting in the sunshine in a meadow with my special lady curled up in my lap. 8/10
12. Lily (My One And Only) - Another really nice chilled out song. Some nice sounds to this one, just plods along quite happily. 8/10
13. By Starlight - The way the album has been put together, your expecting something very heavy by this stage. You don't get it. It's another slow song. Has quite a big feel to it as the guitars try and liven it up towards the end, but this one is just lacking something for me. 7/10
14. Farewell And Goodnight - So how do they say goodbye? Full on snog or peck on the cheek? Would say it's an apologetic peck. It's just a slow weak end. Was expecting something epic to round of an epic album. But it just finishes with a whimper. It is a nice song, and has a really nice piano section at the end, which I do like, but I am just surprised they ended the album with four slow songs in a row. 8/10
So, what an epic journey. This album feels like you have just climbed a mountain, but been rewarded with a stunning view from the top. It has so much variety on there. Some of the songs I don't like but there are so many to choose from! How many albums do you know that have 28 songs on? I would say none! Some of the songs are so stunning that this album really does deserve all the praise that has been heaped on it over the years. It's simply stunning and anyone who has never heard it should go and buy a copy! NOW!!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane, I'm off to play 1979 on my guitar, rock on!!
A defining album of the 90's, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is still as relevant today as it was then. The resounds in the same way it did and the songs still mean the same without being dated.
After the the sleepy piano intro, CD1 starts with one of the bands most popular songs 'Tonight, Tonight', a perfectly composed track with a full orchestra and stunning lyrics.
After this the record starts to get a little more brutal. The 'siamease dream'-esque Jellybelly leads into the grinding 'zero' which is shortly followed by the aggressive headbanger 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' and chugging 'F- you, an Ode to No One' before bringing us back down with 'Love' ant the whistfull 'Cupid de Locke' and 'Porcelina...'.
CD2 has the fast and thumping 'Bodies' pared with the slow and simple 'Thirty three', and the ultra heavy 'Tales of a Scorched Earth' with the sentimental anthem '1979' before it leads to a close with the calm and beautiful songs such as 'By Starlight' and 'Farewell and Goodnight'.
This is an album that leaves you feeling happy, sad, sexy, optimistic and sad without ever feeling being confused. A must buy.
Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is the sort of album that comes along very rarely, but when it does - its life changing. The soundtrack to the lives of millions of American teenagers in the 90's, it is still a vital album and one of the most interesting contributions to music in years.
The Smashing Pumpkins typically fall into the category of 'Alternative Rock' but this album shows their sheer versatility and command of genres - from hard rock guitars to sweet orchestral melodies. Highlights include the massive single 'Tonight, Tonight,' which despite its tendency to be overplayed is still an epic song, as well as the equally famous '1979' and 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings.' Mellon Collie manages to cover a variety of different emotions and moods - yet still fit together to make a complete and proper 'album.' This is where i think the magic comes from, the album has stand-out songs, but it is complete and takes you on a tour of different feelings and musical influences. 28 songs with no filler is no mean feat!
I personally recommend...
'Muzzle' - uplifting and reflective, with classic Smashing Pumpkins guitars
'Stumbleine' - beautiful acoustic which illustrates Billy Corgan's lyrical genius
'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' - perfect heavy song to let some steam off to. They're also rather fond of it in the local rock clubs.
This album has honestly enriched my life, and I would recommend it to anyone. And everyone. Listen to it!
And just when you thought the band couldn't get any weirder, The Smashing Pumpkins produced one of the only double-albums of the past decade, pushing their artistic and songwriting credentials to the very limit of musical paradise. It was the album that got them known worldwide and it improved ten fold on the radio-friendly jibes of their magnetic, melodic breakthrough hit, Siamese Dream (1993). But what makes this album... or rather The Smashing Pumpkins so good, so daring, so damn original? What seperates them from their grunge peers? Well, the answer is frontman Billy Corgan, as miserable as Cobain and more bloated than Bono. He refused to resort to any grunge cliches, tinkering in the studio for hours so that all of his songs would sound perfect, dynamic and original. The Smashing Pumpkins never really DID grunge so it is still surprising today why they are always put in that bracket. The only probable answer is that their breakthrough singles Cherub Rock, Today and Disarm were all bona fide rock'n'roll classics that emerged during grunge's peak. And if the guitar solo laden, impromptu jamming and hushed vocals of the lush Siamese Dream didn't seperate them from their peers (e.g. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden), it was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness that stabbed the final nail in the coffin. A double album, consisting of two discs- one describing the daily duties of the day and the other delving into the tortured nightmares or the lavish dream-like quality of the night can only be described asn powerful, very VERY powerful. When Corgan screams "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage" backed by an explosion of manic guitar solos and power-drumming on par with Dave Grohl's finest work on the show-stopping single Bullet With Butterfly Wings, you can't help but scream with the self-stylised pagan of the gothic world. When he utters "With this ring I wed thee" backed by some solemn keyboa
rds before Thru The Eyes Of Ruby plunges into 56, yes 56, seperate guitar tracks, the listener cannot help but be utterly exhilerated. Listening to Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is like watching The Fellowship Of The Ring and The Two Towers back to back, the initial radio-friendly numbers of Disc 1 mimicking The Fellowship's light touch, while the dark, frosty guitar churning of Disc 2 revelling in the same sort of darkness and nihilism that made The Two Towers so good in the first place. Spread evenly across the two discs are a fair share of epical orchestral ballads, riff hungry monsters and subdued, but rarely acoustic tracks that have a magical, dreamy sense of style about them. The highlights are obviously the six singles. The lush, sweeping strings of Tonight Tonight ("If I can make it, you're not stuck in vain"), the fuzzy, radio friendly, laid back hit 1979 ("cool kids never have the time"), the sudues hush of 33 collide brilliantly with the moshpit mania of Bullet With Butterfly Wings ("The world is a vampire, sent out to drain") and the heavily Metallica influenced Zero ("God is empty, just like... me") to create a wide variety of sounds, indeed there is something eher for everyone. The album songs, while not as immediate as the singles, are just as good. The dead end, sarcastic jibes of Billy Corgan ("We're going nowhere fast, nothing here ever lasts") are overlayed perfectly onto drilling guitar lines on Jellybelly while the feel-good rocker Muzzle ("My life is ordinary, just like everyone") and the pschedelic Love are indescribably addictive with their melancholic melodies and a rhythm section that just never lets up. The more nightmarish rockers on Disc 2 are just as "subtle" but far more experimental in where they want to go with their tunes. Bodies' hook lies in an abrasive two chord guitar line, Tales Of A Scorched Earth is the hardest th
ing on this album, only breathing a short sigh of relief during a short two second, pop chorus while XYU starts out slow but eventually builds up its boiling rage towards its eight minute ending, letting rip finally with a guitar solo that can only be described as cataclysmic while the backing revels in its own impromto catastrophe jam. The lighter material is either glaringly radio-friendly, like the wonderful acoustic strummer Stumbleine, the sunshine chorus of Here Is No Why, the gloomy wave of To Forgive, the lovely, cello-laden Take Me Down (sung by guitarist James Iha) and the dreamy feeling of Galapagos or the lighter material (more often on the second, experimental, disc) is far less consumer friendly, taking its time to build up slowly but surely, emerging in the end as great songs. Indeed, In The Arms Of Sleep and We Only Come Out At Night might sound very basic, guitar, piano, drum tracks at first, but drip feed their charisma and charm into your head until you can't stop singing the lovely chorus of "We Only Come Out At Night, The Day Is Far Too Bright, We Only Come Out At Night". The last four tracks of Disc 2 are all very mellow, providing a gradual decrease in guitar overdrive until the happy sing-a-long chorus of Farewell And Goodnight is reached (again sung by guitarist James Iha). In the end, Mellon Collie is nothing short of a classic. Corgan took his band to their very limits on this album and it didn't seem that they could go any further than this huge gambit. Indeed, following albums like the elctronically influenced Adore and the rock out Machina/The Machines Of God were excellent, but a slight regression from this double-album of instant classics, growing favourites and downright ugly moshpit monsters. Afterall, nobody's brvae enough to release a triple, or quadruple album...
MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS -PROLOGUE- The figure arched out of the dark cliffs, peering over the valley floor to see any trace of existential life that survived the blast. The wasteland was barren, where trees once stood proud the land was now littered with skulls, bones, flesh and blood. The evidence of war loomed even in the smoke and dust filled air, penetrating every last drop of life until all was derelict. The figure was in a state of shock- not knowing what to do next. He had survived, but what were the news of his family, where would he get food, where to next? And at every corner of his mind, another dead end path stood. A tear casually dropped out of his eye. So much life lost, he thought to himself, and so much unnecesary killing. And he remembered the good old days when war was just a mere option, a possible outcome of all the conflicts in the world. He had never thought it would actually happen, let alone be so terrible. He breathed a sigh of relief, one interspersed with anger as he picked up his axe from the ground. He walked silently down the cliff, paranoid about the red stars peering over him from above... -CHAPTER ONE-DAWN TO DUSK- While stumbling on a rock, falling flat on his face on the ground- a scrap of paper caught his eye. He proceeded to pick it up. It was a newspaper page, reviews section, from some time ago but he remembered those days as if it were just yesterday: - "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins *****/***** If anybody thought that Siamese Dream was as bloated or as epic and mad as Billy Corgan's music could get- they are all in for a mammoth shock to the system. For, Mellon Collie is probably the most ambitious, definitely the largest and the most diverse record released by any mainstream rock band since the record was created. Such a pity that the band split up in 2000, as although their swansong record was s
omewhat disappointing, a critic like me always believes that Corgan still has those original juices flowing in his brain and can still create mammoth rock hits" His eyes swelled with tears as he read his name, Corgan, and as the memories flooded back to him all at once. He wondered if he should stop and carry on searching for food, but his emotional attachment to this torn newspaper page was more than important, it was vital to his very being, his very existence. His life did mean something before... "And the eponymous opening track on Disc 1 of this double album couldn't be further removed from the Pumpkins' work prior to this. For the song is all lilting piano grooves, subtle basslines and a hint of flutes linger in the background. There are no vocals, whatever drums there are are simply inaudible and the overall effect is a transfixing lullaby, a hypnotic song that eventually fades into Tonight Tonight, one of the more memorable tracks on this album. Immediately caving in on Thor-style drumming, the guitars are somewhat subdues as the string section takes pole position to forge what is a simply spellbinding song. The less is more approach really works, as Corgan, in his whimper of a voice, sings out "believe, believe in me" under acoustic guitars before the tumbling drums and strings emerge gloriously again with a line so uplifting that this doesn't qualify as simply rock music anymore, it's art. The line is "If I can, then you're not stuck in vain". The epic ness of the track is quickly subdued by a frenzy of classic Mosh pit favourites, Jelly Belly and Zero. The guitar sound is heavy, the lyrics are nothing short of damn bleak- take "we're going nowhere" and "loneliness is godliness" as prime examples" The pouring rain, Corgan skipped over to the next section, had smudged all of the ink from the next paragraph out… "And that bri
ngs me to my next point, Disc 1 is anything but coherent. Tracks like zero fade into much more subdued balladeer masterpieces like To Forgive, Take Me Down and the excellent, Beatles-influences Here Is No Why. It's only natural that there should be a song that blends the two styles together, and on this record it is given the fantastic name of Bullet With Butterfly Wings. Surpassing anything the Smashing Pumpkins have done, it is their Blitzkrieg Bop, their Smells Like Teen Spirit and their My Generation. It, for me, is the song I will always remember them by, being a completely perfect blend of sullen, bile ridden verses and a huge, anthemic chorus. From the opening line “the world is a vampire” to the very last usher of the insane chorus “despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage” it is pure grunge/pop bliss Disc 2 of this gigantic two hour sprawl is much more diverse, ambitious and more inventive than the more radio-friendly Disc 1. It’s as if The Smashing Pumpkins wanted to make a really diverse album, like the one portrayed on Disc 2, but wanted the sales as well so they chucked in a classic, riff-referencing Disc 1 as well to please all of their fans and to pull in the sales figures. Apart from these “sell-out” qualms there’s no denying that Disc 2 is far superior to the already genius Disc 1” -CHAPTER 2-TWILIGHT TO STARLIGHT- “And it makes its point clear very fast indeed. Opener Where Boys Fear To Tread rides on the bulkiest, hardest and least radio friendly riff the Smashing Pumpkins ever wrote. It even comes close to being death metal. The fact that the chorus is completely overshadowed and nearly inaudible due to mammoth guitar solo lines, gives an idea of what is to come- no inhibitions rock music. Bodies follow the trend, being ever so slightly more radio friendly (although nobody could really call a chorus line that buzzes chirpily “love is suicid
e” as exactly friendly!) and led by a traditional grunge riff. And then the biggest shock of all comes; the album plunges deep down into the recesses of lullaby tunes and lilting harps. On Disc 1, the only real tinge of lullaby was on the eponymous opener and the majestic, sweet Cupid De Locke. But on here, things are much more experimental, almost acoustic on the sinister, spiralling riff of 33 that makes you feel like the song is cornering you into a black hole and almost trip-hop on the sublime lullaby In The Arms Of Sleep, a definite influence on some of the material heard on Radiohead’s Ok Computer. And for all the hard rock riffage of Tales Of A Scorched Earth and Bodies, there’s always a Farewell And Goodnight or a sullen single like 1979. The latter is one of the finer moments on this album, being about as radio-friendly as Disc 2 gets. The opening line “shakedown 1979, cool kids never have the time” may not make such sense, but the way Corgan almost whispers it and how he is supported by a rock solid base of semi-acoustic guitar lines and pianos shake the listener with an urgency that makes them want to hear more” Corgan stopped; he had heard a noise- a cracking of twigs somewhere in the background. Dropping the sheet and taking up his axe from the ground, he peered out into the darkness, shouting and screaming, demanding to know who or what was in his presence. The only answer came in sheets of rain, testimonies of thunder and the howling wind. Maybe nobody was there at all, he though to himself. Maybe he was just being paranoid again. Picking up the sheet, he continued. “However the grandest moment on this, or any record the Pumpkins ever made, comes in the form of Through The Eyes Of Ruby- starting off with twinkling pianos and harps, electric guitars soon emerge and then a full 56 (yes 56) guitar tracks are laid down all at once to create an all encompassing wall of sound, that simply dwarfs an
ything else you have heard before in your life. And by the time the last song Farewell And Goodnight comes, the war is over, the battle is…” Corgan fell to the floor; he had been hit by something, something sharp. It had penetrated his neck. He writhed in agony on the ground, unable to see his attacker. It wasn’t late before a few more blows had been dealt and he breathed his last lungful of air- derelict, smoke filled and poisonous. There was nothing to remember here as a trail of blood followed his body that was already being dragged to the woods. EPILOGUE Thanks for reading, drop me a line on the message boards. Chow, Pinkertonisrad
Somehow this album manages to be good. Great even. All of its component parts point towards the fact that it should be cack....I mean, let's start with the title 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadeness'....what the hell does that mean? Surely one of the most pompous, non-ironic, terrible album titles of all time. Next there is the artwork. Absolutely perfect for an album entitled 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadeness'. Pseudo-Victorian, opium induced, psychedelic visions. How amazingly intelligent and arty Billy, well done. Last, but not least, there's the fact that it's a double album and everyone knows that bar a few exceptions, that double-albums are not very good at all. It all screams 'PROG ROCK!!!!!!' at you very loudly, and everyone knows, bar no exceptions, that prog-rock isn't very good. However, against all the odds, the Smashing Pumpkins came up with a true gem, something to savour, a work of near-genius. When 'Mellon Collie' was released in 1995, grunge's star was falling. Kurt Cobain was dead, there were numerous bands hopping on the grunge bandwaggon, and American rock smelt stale. Britain was enjoying a musical renaissance, with Britpop....the kids were wearing Adiddas, pretending to be barra-boys and the music pedalled by the likes of Blur, Pulp and Supergrass was upbeat and firmly, rooted in the English tradition of the Kinks, Beatles, Madness and the like. Yet out of America comes Billy Corgan with his overblown prog/metal/grunge and everyone falls head over heels for it, including the critics. How? It can only come down to the quality of the songs. 'Mellon Collie...' was purported to be a two disc set, one of which was acoustic and the other of which would be much heavier. It transpired that this wasn't the case, but the songs inevitably can be split into these two camps. The albums kicks off somewhat curiously, with a melodic, lush piano instrumental, but it set
s the baroque tone for the album. Next comes the hugely popular 'Tonight, Tonight' an immensely orchestrated anthem in every respect...it is a great song, and has become one of the Smashing Pumpkins' most famous (perhaps due to its flamboyant video that reflects the art-work) yet it is by no means the best track on the album, and it is also one of the few songs that it neither a ballad, nor an all-out metal assault. Brilliant songs fill this album up to the brim. The furious 'Zero', with its great harmonised guitar solo; the wistful acoustic beauty of 'Stumbeline'; the riffing juggernaut of 'Where Boys Fear to Tread'; the very, very, very heavy 'XYU'....there are, too many to mention. Obvious songs (and singles) that cannot be ignored are 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' that sticks most closely to grunge's quiet/loud formula. It is a great song, filled with angst typical of the period shown in lines such as 'Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage'. Its a bit cliched sixth form poetry, but it's a great deal more articulate than the commercialised emotional scars being pedalled by the nu-metal brigade. The two highlights of this album are '1979' and 'Bodies'. '1979' is an amazingly good-feeling, summery pop-song. It sound a little like the Cure in a good mood. A simple yet classic guitar hook, makes you hark back to all those summers you spent with your friends outside, getting drunk, chatting, having fun through idyllic psychedelic shades that surely must be like the ones that John Lennon used to wear (forget about the reality of arguing over the last can of Hoffmeister lager in a freezing cold park....those times were perfect, not like now, oh no, not like now...not like...). It is a stone-cold classic and easily one of the best American-rock singles of the 1990s. 'Bodies', on the other hand is a 'chugger'. Based around ab
out three chords, but pulling every last drop of melody out of them, Billy Corgan manages to make the song anthemic, uplifting and yet somewhat depressing at the same time. 'Love is suicide' sounds like something that a Manics-loving student would write on their rucksack, but in the context of the song, it seems to transcend this and it turns into something much more. One of the best, and most obvious aspects of 'Mellon Collie...' is its production. This may be the best sounding record that I own. Its amazing, that after spending so much time on basic song writing and recrding, that these songs have then been raised to the next level by the production. Put it on a good stereo and you will be blown away. It is clean, yet dirty, shiny and amour-plated, yet not with a commercial sheen. All credit due to Flood and Brian Eno who contributed. Ultimately, 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadeness' falls a little short of being a stone cold classic up there with 'Nevermind', and 'It'll Take a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back', 'OK Computer' etc. because not only is a demanding listen, but it also lacks a little in the 'soul' department. Billy Corgan, seems more concerned with his arty image than anything else and lacks the true vitriol of the greats. Its by no means a shallow, empty album, but it is nowhere near as deep and profound as it thinks it is. The fact that Billy played most of the instruments on the album himself (except for the drums, played amazingly by Jimmy Chamberlin) shows that it acts as a bit of an ego-vehicle for him. You also cannot forget that this still is a double album and any album featuring over twenty songs is bound to have a bit of superflous fluff on it as well, such as the overblown 'Porcelina' etc. 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadeness' was the band's last great stand. Subsequent albums 'Adore' and 'Machina/ Machines of God' ha
d their moments but were also unbearably pretentious and veered too near Sleepy Hollow meets Pink Floyd bombast. They couls have gone out with a bang, but they didn't. Still, this serves as a timely reminder of how good a power-crazed, rock band at the height of their creativity can be.
Its nearly seven years now since production finished on (what i'll refer to from now on as) MCIS, and since its release nothing has appeared from any genre or any band to touch its sheer quality in terms of songwriting and performance mastery. Band leader Billy Corgan was always criticised for his control freak mentality which lead to unrest amongst the other members, but it remains obvious to the listner just how beneficial this was to the resultant record, as it provides a journey which bridges genres - managing to give the instrumentals and vocals both ear bleeding visceral power at the same time as harmonious melody. This album takes the listener from one musical and emotional extreme to the other, and though their later work didnt come close, they never lost the chemistry that made the band unique - if youve perhaps heard something on the radio or tv that suggested you might like the smashing pumpkins, I would heartily recommend MCIS as a fine starting point.
I used to look upon The Smashing Pumpkins in my denile, thinking that they were a really heavy metal band. Not liking metal at the time, I stayed well clear of them. (I'd like to stress here that i was following the trends really, as i was only 9 or 10. Since then i have fought hard against trends as i feel they are what make people shallow and stop people from having their own views) Since, i have gotten into the whole rock scene and after seeing the promo for "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" on the televsion, i had to go out and buy this album. I was so surpised to put on the first CD of the 2CD album to find a melodic, piano track. Surprised as i was, i felt myself becoming deeply relaxed and more impressed. Then the beutiful harmony of "Tonight, Tonight" gripped me and held my in my seat until the familiar "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" came on and gave me a chance to wipe the drool off of my bottom lip. The word Recomendation does not do this album justice. Altough i have been listening to Green Day, Sum 41, Blink etc this summer, i'm sure i will still have this album in my walkman everywhere i go on holiday. The contrast between songs is unique and yet the make-up of them hardly varies. The feeling of anti-mainstream you get from this album is so fulfilling it give you hope for the future of rock, when you know there is stuff like this baking it up in the archives.
I recently went on a bit of a shopping spree for "old" CD's that were recommmended to me by friends. This album was one of them. Well, they didn't in fact recommend this particular album, they just recommended I got something by the band. The sole reason I bought this particular one was that it was a double CD! Now, up until when I bought this, my sole experience of the band consists of "tonight, tonight" and "1979" shown on MTV2, both of which are on this album incidently. The album goes along at a consistent pace, with song types ranging from raging rock to smooth ballads, with Corgans high pitched whiny-but-magnificent lyrics tugging on yor heart strings from start to end of both CD's. This one album has made me hooked, and I plan to grab as many of there albums as I can. Just a shame I'm a bit late...
What band in their right minds would release their third record as a mammoth double album?! Well, maybe they weren't in their right minds! However much I love this album, I don't think it should have been the double album that it is. There are LOADS of great songs here, ("Tonight, Tonight", "Zero", "Porcelina...", "1979" to name but a few!), but I would rather have seen the really great ones put together on a single CD. There are a few songs on this record which I don't think fit in. "Take Me Down", written by James Iha, is tracklisted after the epic "Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans", and is frankly dwarfed. I don't particularly like "Cupid de Locke", either. The second CD has a few more which don't quite meet the standard. It seems like the Pumpkins were just rushing to write enough tunes to fill up the space, cause "We Only Come Out At Night" would never have even been considered at the time of "Siamese Dream" etc. Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic album. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who is new to the Pumpkins, as there is a bit too much weirdness for my liking towards the end.
Released in 1995 to universal acclaim, the Smashing Pumpkins unleashed the double Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. It underlined their reputation as fantastic songwriters and musicians, creating an almost unique sound that seems to come from an almost imaginary dreamworld at times. Corgan shows his song writing talent really well on this album. The lyrics are complicated and obtuse, seeming to mix the feelings of the modern teenager with fairy stories and classical mythology. The lyrics area almost as fascinating as the layered and varied sounds each song produces. The two discs contain about two hours of some of the finest music you’ll ever hear. Not al of it is outstanding, understandably there are some tracks that don’t quite hit the high standard, but there are so many outstanding songs on display here that many bands would struggle to come up with in a lifetime. It’s my favourite Smashing Pumpkins album, the variation between the tracks and the innovation underlines why this band will be so sorely missed. Released on two discs, the two discs are quite different – the first describing the day and the second the night. The second one is more dreamy, like it is telling tales of dreams and nightmares, while the first one deals more with affairs of the real world. DISC 1 – DAWN TO DUSK This disc is pretty evenly balanced between the gentler songs and the spikier, rocky songs. MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS The album opens with a soft, dreamy piano and strings track. It’s slow, serene and gorgeous. It’s not usually my type of music, but when it starts, you don’t actually want it to end. TONIGHT, TONIGHT This is my favourite song on the album; it’s a sprawling epic, laden with strings and some beautiful guitar work. It’s one of the most uplifting songs that I’ve ever heard; it can turn you around and make you
feel better when you’re down. It’s about putting your faith in love to make your life change and take you to a better time. JELLYBELLY The strings are quickly dispensed with for a harsh, aggressive riff, more typical of the traditional Smashing Pumpkins. Brilliant drums, great riffs and solos make this a really good track to jump around to. It’s all about going nowhere, having no memories and just hating yourself. ZERO This has one of the most fantastic riffs you’re ever going to here. It’s really simple but it manages to sound heavy and aggressive. The stop-start nature of the song is fantastic, it stops and just has vocals then they riff kicks in again. All about love, we’re told this girl is the only one for him, without her he is a “Zero”. I can’t recommend this song highly enough, the riff just keeps building up and gradually becomes more complicated, and I just love it. HERE IS NO WHY The dreamy feel returns with this more laid back sleepy number, with a stabbed but gentle guitar and subdued bassline. The guitar kicks in a little more during the chorus, but then it returns to its stabbed riff. It tells a story about growing up and trying to get through another day where nothing happens or changes, just sitting in the same places and becoming stagnant. BULLET WITH BUTTERFLY WINGS This is a dark, broody song, opening with just a quiet drumbeat, the vocals and quiet riff, but it is dark and subdued and you just know that it is all building up to a release of aggression, and when it comes, it feels really liberating to be able to let it all out before you have to stop again. The riffs are fiery and explosive, the bass emphasising the mood. The lyrics are all about anger as well, about being stuck in a cage unable to let out your true feelings. TO FORGIVE The rage doesn’t continue for long, and we descend back into the half-sleep with this
song, with really quiet picked guitars and a really slow drumbeat. It’s all about trying to keep everything inside in case you manage to screw everything up. It’s a bit of a let down after Bullet with Butterfly Wings, but the respite is welcome. It takes a little key change near the end, which gives it a whole new positive sound. AN ODE TO NO ONE The rest wasn’t long, the aggressive edge returns with this seething song, the heaviest there has been so far; just a stabbed riff and vocals which literally explodes into a fireball of venom aimed at all the people Corgan hates. LOVE The quiet/loud song pattern continues with this song, which is a bit more of a driven song than the quiet songs that have gone before it. A heavily distorted guitar is given an airy tone, with a simple but brilliant drumbeat; the title really gives away the subject of this song. It’s all about love and the feelings it extracts form people. CUPID DE LOCKE Dreamy is the only word to really do justice to the sound of this song. It has a harp-like melody going through the song the whole way through, and it’s like a song the fairies or angels sing. It’s a gentle beautiful song, about Cupid de Locke, who brings lovers together with his bow and arrow. GALAPOGOS The quiet theme continues with this gentle, soft ballad about a girl rescuing him from all the pain and disbelief in his life. It comes to life a bit more at the end, the guitars being taken up a few notches to inject a bit of life into what is a pretty average song. MUZZLE This song is excellent, it’s a simple guitar based song, it has another great riff, and some great drums and the lyrics are brilliant. It’s one of the highlights of the album, the song is uplifting, the guitar sounds bright and positive, and the lyrics extend this feeling by describing the feeling as he realises how he belongs in the world, and what his purpos
e is there. PORCELINA OF THE VAST OCEAN Running close to ten minutes, you could describe this as an epic, taking almost two minutes to actually come to life with a strong, loud riff, which only lasts for the opening before descending into the dreamy verse, where the lyrics are almost spoken rather than spoken, before the riff comes back in again in the chorus. It’s a great song, the way it swaps between the all out rock and the dreamy sound, almost as if the two are fighting each other. TAKE ME DOWN The first disc ends with a gentle acoustic ballad sung by James Iha. It’s a simple love song, about telling someone how much he loves them, the song gets more and more beautiful towards the end as it rises and soars, as if on the clouds. DISC 2 – TWILIGHT TO STARLIGHT This disc is more extreme than the first, it varies between seething aggressive songs and the really gentle dreamlike ones, and the difference is a lot more pronounced than Disc 1. WHERE BOYS FEAR TO TREAD A medium paced, loud, aggressive riff opens the second disc with a bang. It’s not a really fast song, so this track doesn’t sound as angry as some of the other songs, but it’s still possible to detect it. It opens in a blaze of feedback, and ends rather suddenly the same way, and really sets the tone for… BODIES This is my favourite song on this disc; it’s fast, really loud and absolutely spitting venom. It has an amazing riff, just played constantly throughout the song, the drums are loud and driven, set the tone really well for the subject of the song, about the bad side of love, the side that breaks your hear and kills you, and the song brings across the confusion, anger and pain perfectly, in an anti-love song – “Love is suicide”. THIRTY-THREE The aggression again doesn’t last for long, and we’re in the twilight period again, one of the dream-
like semi-conscious songs. It’s lazy guitar sound and gentle piano show the other side of love, the better side where twp people lead each other through life. IN THE ARMS OF SLEEP This is a more acoustic song; it’s very gentle with soft, slow drums and very quiet guitar. It’s another love song, trying to convey his feelings across to this person and trying to let her know exactly what he’ll do for her love. 1979 This song is brilliant, but it has a really odd sound that is hard to describe, except as very distinctive, with an almost computer like drumbeat and lumbering guitar which keeps speeding up and slowing down through the song. It’s a story about teenage life in a small town, and the things they get up to, the people they see and the feelings they have. TALES OF A SCORCHED EARTH The quiet period is quickly tossed aside with this angry rock monster, the heavy riffs and angry drums are back with the lyrics not sung but screamed this time in an effort to convey the anger and passion of the song. There is a tune trying to escape, and occasional it gets out, but it’s a difficult song to get into, but rewards the extra effort it requires as it picks up near the end. THRU THE EYES OF RUBY Another sprawling song, weighing in at almost eight minutes long, it’s as dreamy and daze-like as some of the songs that have been before, it’s gentle guitar and soft drumming, but it picks up the heavy riffs near the end to come to life, like we’re waking up from our dream. It’s a love song again, and the feelings this girl inspires. STUMBELINE This gentle, sweet acoustic number is delicate and beautiful, the vocals are subdued and soft, trying to convey the sweetness of this little girl, and we’re told how much he would love here and make her happy. X.Y.U. The final loud aggressive track before we are sung to sleep builds up and up so you
know that there is definitely something coming up, the drums are loud and there are plenty of distorted guitars and angry riffs. The verse is used to build up the tension that snaps in the chorus. At just over seven minutes long, it goes on for slightly too long, but it’s a brilliant song to let your aggression out on. The lyrics basically describe a lot of self-hatred and his opinion of himself, and reading those you can see where the tune comes from. WE ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT This song is actually quite boring, one of my least favourites on the album, it could have been left out and not really missed. It’s a dreamy, light number, with a shiny guitar and piano, but it doesn’t really go anywhere or say anything. BEAUTIFUL This song is much better; it’s a standard love song, telling of how beautiful this person is. It’s mainly a simple piano and the drums, and D’arcy and Billy sing the song, the combination of the vocals sounds really sweet and nice. LILY (MY ONE AND ONLY) Again this is another song that could have been left on the studio floor. It has an olde-world sound to it, with it’s odd drumbeat and slightly distorted piano. The subject is really strange to, about obsessing over this girl and spying on her because he loves her, and eventually being taken away by the police for his efforts. BY STARLIGHT This uses the dreamlike feel of semi-light to great effect, sounding like a lullaby to your lover, telling her how he’ll leave her happy and be the only one she needs. It’s really simple, mainly the vocals over an occasional guitar and a slow drumbeat. The guitar plays a solo in the chorus and it’s really slow and beautiful. FAREWELL AND GOODNIGHT This is a lullaby to us, the listener, and it’s prefect bedtime music, just wishing us a good night’s sleep, and may we always have happy dreams. They whole band takes turns singing t
he lyrics so we can feel it coming from all of them. The piano at the end loops into the opening track of the first disc so that we can begin it all again. Overall, this is one of those essential albums that you just have to own. OK, there are a few dub tracks, but weighing in at 28 tracks, not everything can be outstanding! It’s only the greatness of the tracks around them that let the poorer tracks down, on any other album, we’d be commenting on their greatness. There are so many classics on this album, it shows just how important and innovative the Pumpkins where. Yes they could be bloated and arrogant, and perhaps overindulgent in places, but as long as they produced these tunes who’s complaining? What I’m trying to say is buy it! You really won’t regret it.
I am amazed at how small the Smashing Pumpkins are in terms of world wide acclaim, given that Billy Corgan (the enigmatic frontman) has been responsible for the 5th and 19th best albums of the 1990s (according to authoratative US music magazine SPIN). In at 19 came Siamese Dream, the Pumpkins' breakthrough effort, their second album that launched them into the spotlight of post-Nirvana music culture. Then, as if it could not come any better, came Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995)...a huge collection of 28 songs on 2 CDs that holds an eternal place under lock and key in music's Hall of Fame. So here is my ode to Billy Corgan's masterpiece, as performed by the Smashing Pumpkins of 1995 (Billy Corgan, James Iha, D'Arcy, Jimmy Chamberlain) The Smashing Pumpkins have been described as an alternative rock band, but if you are after a brilliant double album there can be no alternative to Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness. Produced after the successes of Gish and Siamese Dream (and the brilliant collection of "inferior b-sides", Pisces Iscariot), Mellon Collie blends all of the Pumpkins main styles into twenty eight massive alternative prog-rock tracks. This massive collection of underestimated and understated alternative rock classics has been described as bloated and excessive, but given the choice of 11 songs or 28 which would you take? Exactly. The rate of Billy Corgan's creative genius is incredible as Mellon Collie, bloated as some critics may say, never diminishes in quality to the extent that you lose interest. As soon as one song threatens to loose the listener (because, like with all albums, there are moments that are not as inspiring as the rest) the follow up track snatches him/her back again, and never once through the mammoth double-CD is the listener able to ignore the extent and quality of the Pumpkins' work. Disc One - dawn to dusk; the balance seems more tow
ards soft, gentle, smooth mellow ballads...the title track, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is a rare prize indeed, a piano instrumental from the same group that had previously recorded the massive and heavy Cherub Rock or Silverfuck. Following Mellon Collie, Tonight Tonight remains as one of the Pumpkins stand out tracks. It seems that whatever they do has to be big, and this is born out in Tonight Tonight, a song that remains one of the pumpkins biggest commercial successes (an epic of strings, guitars, and lyrics that Shakespeare would writhe in envy at the sight of). After the more uptempo Jellybelly comes the crashing masterpiece of Zero, one of the all-time Pumpkins songs. An umistakable, and unavoidably attention-grabbing, guitar harmonics introduction indicates the start of what is, arguably, the grandest and loudest song on the album. Following Zero, track 6, Bullet With Butterfly Wings combines the two ends of the Pumpkins spectre , and is a highlight of an illuminating double album. Later on disc one, the balance reverts to the quiet side of Billy Corgan's songwriting; Cupid de Locke, Galapogos, Porcelina of the vast oceans, and Take Me Down (written and performed by guitarist James Iha). With one last kick of amps in Muzzle, the Pumpkins sign off disc one leaving you craving for more...and that's where disc two comes in. Disc Two - Twilight to Starlight; Where Boys Fear To Tread begins with one of the Pumpkins heaviest bass and guitar introductions on the album, and it certainly kicks off disc two with a bang. Bodies (one of my favourite all-time SP songs) continues along a similar pattern before Thirty-Three reverts the balance towards the mellow once again. Track 5 (no.19 in all) is one of the Smashing Pumpkins biggest successes, and is certainly one of the more popular tracks from their career...'1979'. As with many Pumpkins songs, the introduction immediately indicates the song; a few dr
um rolls then some slide guitar work. 1979 really is a masterpiece on the album, and is one of the highlights of Billy Corgan's writing career - he wrote it in one evening just so he could fit it into Mellon Collie. Thru The Eyes of Ruby is another highlight which, for all you anoraks out there, contains music that was used in Jim Carey's 'Ace Ventura; Pet Detective' movie. Further on into the disc, Stumbleine sweeps majestically from Corgan's acoustic guitar. The quietest and most beautiful song on the album, Stumbleine is another highlight of a 2CD album that maintains consistency throughout. The second disk ends as one might expect it to, quietly and gently drifting its way through lullaby tracks like Farewell And Goodnight (the only Pumpkins song in which all members of the band sing. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is the crowing centerpiece of The Smashing Pumpkins, even against such classic albums as Siamese Dream and Adore. If you only ever buy one Pumpkins album, make it this one...it combines the quiet, subtlety of Adore with the heavy rock of Machina The Machines of God and the early 1990s raw youthful energy of Siamese Dream sonic-rocj. Twenty-eight mammoth tracks that no opinion or review can do justice, it needs to be heard to be appreciated. Highly recommended, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is one of the best Smashing Pumpkins album, the best double-album, and one of the best albums of the 1990s. In the highest credit for a double-album, it can confidently be said that either of the two CDs could stand alone as a successful single album, which reflects the quality of this collection. If I were to recommend any one album from the 1990s, or from any era for that matter, then I would have to really think hard before coming up with an album even greater than Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. Whilst in the Top Albums of the 1990s Nirvana may have won for overall infl
uence and, and Radiohead and Beck may have come second and third for originality and experimentation, The Smashing Pumpkins certainly come first for sheer songwriting genius. Kurt Cobain, Thom Yorke, Noel Gallagher, John Lennon, and all the other great songwriters do not hold anything above Billy Corgan. In my eyes at least he is one of the most underrated musicians, lyricists, and creative artists of recent times. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is the crowning glory of a dazzling career. Billy Corgan can effortlessly go from the composing orchestral magician to stadium-rock-riff-monster-God from one moment to the next (see Porcelina of the Vast Oceans)...and it is this creativity that makes the Smashing Pumpkins one of the most important bands of recent times, and makes Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness one of the greatest albums to be released before, during, and since the 1990s. Now that the Smashing Pumpkins have split up and called it a day for good, no record player or CD collection should be complete without this album. A masterpiece. Tracklist : (disc one) Mellon collie and the infinite sadness, tonight tonight, jellybelly, zero, here is no why, bullet with butterfly wings, to forgive, an ode to no one, love, cupid de locke, galapogos, muzzle, porcelina of the vast oceans, take me down (disc two) where boys fear to tread, bodies, thirty-three, in the arms of sleep, 1979, tales of a scorched earth, thru the eyes of ruby, stumbleine, x.y.u, we only come out at night, beautiful, lily (my one and only), by starlight, farewell and goodnight THE SMASHING PUMPKINS: "Gish" (1990), "Siamese Dream" (1993), "Pisces Iscariot" (1994), "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness" (1995), "Adore" (1998), "Machina: The Machines Of God" (2000), "Machina II: The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music" (2000-limited edition, mass available on MP3
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
2 Tonight Tonight
5 Here Is No Why
6 Bullet With Butterfly Wings
7 To Forgive
8 Fuck You (An Ode To No One)
10 Cupid De Locke
13 Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans
14 Take Me Down
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Where Boys Fear To Tread
3 Thirty Three
4 In The Arms Of Sleep
6 Tales Of A Scorched Earth
7 Thru The Eyes Of Ruby
10 We Only Come Out At Night
12 Lily (My One And Only)
13 By Starlight
14 Farewell And Goodnight