The SMASHING PUMPKINS – ” Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness ” Released 23rd October 1995

Posted: October 23, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Produced by frontman Billy Corgan; The Smashing Pumpkins’ third album is a twenty-eight-track opus of incredible scope and wonderment. Led by single Bullet with Butterfly Wings, The album features a wide array of styles, as well as greater musical input from bassist D’arcy Wretzky and second guitarist James Iha the album shot to the top of the charts and spawned a number of great singles. It has sold over ten-million units and considered one of the finest albums from the 1990s. Many would question the audacity of a group including twenty-eight tracks on an album. The fact there are no weak moments is backed by a record which sees the U.S. band present their most engaging and ambitious work yet. Billy Corgan’s unique and exceptional song writing is given room to breathe and explore. Mellon Collie’ helped reshape the face of Alternative-Rock, almost single-handedly. It is always a risk releasing a double album – regardless of how good you are – but The Smashing Pumpkins had no fear.

Go big or go home. That’s pretty much what this came down to. 25 years ago Smashing Pumpkins were commercial and critical darlings, coming off the scene-setting “Gish” and the monumental alt-rock statement of “Siamese Dream”. Their next move was a risk – a double album that shaped up as an anachronism on one hand and a potential commercial and critical disaster on the other. Their label told them as much, but Billy Corgan was set on it. “Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness” had to happen.

At this remove, it’s hard to imagine a world where the Pumpkins didn’t take the nuclear option. Mellon Collie feels like the last great hurrah for a certain breed of Gen X American rock band, a final grand statement from a disparate group of artists bound together by the fact that they’d upended the pop apple cart by accident.

Lacking the slash and burn punk streak of Nirvana and the cinematic dourness of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and the wider Seattle set, Corgan’s music always felt more classic, more florid, less deliberately of the moment. But it’s easy to forget that both Gish and Siamese Dream were defined in part by their succinctness – shoegaze-literate hit after shoegaze-literate hit. Split across two sides that represented day and night, Mellon Collie’s sprawl was startling by comparison: 28 songs (totalling two hours) made the cut, and three times as many were written in a spree that recalled Bruce Springsteen’s feverish hot streak in the build up to Darkness On The Edge Of Town.

“I went around saying I was inspired by Pink Floyd‘s The Wall to try to create that kind of big, ambitious thing,” Corgan told David Wild in the liner notes for Mellon Collie’s 2012 reissue. “And, of course, jerks in the media still take me to task for saying that. For the record, from my point of view, I wasn’t trying to say that I had written my Wall … what I meant was that we were trying to reach for something expansive like Pink Floyd achieved with The Wall, as opposed to making a double album like The White Album by the Beatles, which was basically a wider collection of great songs by a group.”

Chief Pumpkin Billy Corgan was certainly on a creative streak in the early to mid-1990s. Between Siamese Dream, the outtakes collection Pisces Iscariot, the triple-LP length Mellon Collie, and the collection of b-sides compiled on 1996’s The Aeroplane Flies High (which showcased almost 30 new outtakes, although some were covers or written by guitarist James Iha). In this era, The Smashing Pumpkins released about 7 hours of new music recorded between December 1992 and August 1995, much of it written by Corgan, while even more music would surface on later reissues of Mellon Collie and The Aeroplane Flies High.

‘Set the Ray to Jerry’ is one of many Pumpkins outtakes that surfaced on The Aeroplane Flies High, as a b-side to 1989. It shares the gentle insistence of ‘1979’, moodily intense but never launching into a full-blooded rocker. It’s simple, with just drums, a simple James Iha guitar lead, and Corgan on bass. It was apparently written during the Gish tour, and dates back to the Siamese Dream sessions – Corgan told Guitar World that producer Flood vetoed the song.

  • Billy Corgan – Lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, piano, keyboards, autoharp, production, mixing, string arrangements
  • Jimmy Chamberlin – Drums, vocals
  • James Iha – Rhythm and lead guitar, vocals, mixing, additional production
  • D’arcy Wretzky – Bass, vocals

Originally Released 23rd October 1995

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