Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins (1995); Track-by-Track review

Mellon Collie


“All we have is our music, our legions of fans, our millions of dollars and our youth.” – Billy Corgan on The Simpsons…

“From egos tragic I am born again.” – Billy Corgan in Batman & Robin.

The cassingle had the phrases ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ and ‘Cherub Rock’ and I couldn’t tell the artist from the song title…

They emerged from the Chicago post-punk scene with a bleak worldview and a pre-ironic fetish for the authentic (and drum machines).

Gish was a revelation and Siamese Dream was a breakthrough but nothing could prepare for the phenomenon…

“I have a tape of us from 1993 endlessly playing the ‘world is a vampire’ part over and over.” – Billy Corgan on the four most famous words.

Today it is more like Eating Pumpkins but in 1996 he was thin, had black hair, a Zero t-shirt and three friends sort of contributing…

It has been described (by Billy) as The Wall for Gen X: an epic, 2-disc collection of iconic alt rock tracks and the paragon of post grunge.

It’s the one, the only, the sub-edtor’s nightmare: Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness!

Mellon Collie
Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness with Simpsons, Batman and vampiric literature.

(song titles in caps)

MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS is a beautifully realised piano instrumental with a tasteful thickness to open Disc 1 ‘Dawn To Dusk’.

A bold approach to anthemic rock on the spectacular, arena filling TONIGHT, TONIGHT. Dedicated to Michael Hutchence on the Adore tour.

A louder, grungier, grindier sound is smashed against a playful melody on JELLYBELLY. Under production is not under appreciated.

ZERO must be the ultimate post-grunge song. It was worth Nirvana descending for this cut alone.

Adam A. introduced me to Smashing Pumpkins and his favourite song was HERE IS NO WHY. ‘Standing still was never enough’ resonates re Adore.

Best cold opening + Best bassline + Best chorus + Best shouty hook + Best title + Best sport for playing live = BULLET WITH BUTTERFLY WINGS

Take a breather, get a cool drink and learn how TO FORGIVE. Melodic pop grunge that borrows from Holding Back The Years (Simply Red).

Jimmy’s drums get a real work out on AN ODE TO NO ONE, a Sonic Youth style noisefest that only just avoids fuzzy illogical. About C.Love?

Triumphant beats and some fleeting walls of sound mask an unfortunate lapse into platitudes, including the lyric ‘LOVE solves everything’.

Soft as silk yet sparkling, CUPID DE LOCKE is a reflection on the nature of intimacy and is one of the more sombre, introspective pieces.

I like how Billy’s vocals are as clear as the message: world is harsh, death is imminent and love is endangered on and in GALAPAGOS.

‘I fear that I am ordinary’ is insincere as a dogged Billy casts off his MUZZLE to showcase the noisy, helical silence of the world.

PORCELINA OF THE VAST OCEANS is a fine rock song but not really strong enough to sustain 9:21 length. Never one for smashing pretensions.

James Iha wrote and sang lead vocals on Disc 1 closer TAKE ME DOWN and it’s no surprise his solo record peaked at #171 in the US.

Disc 2 of Mellon Collie is titled ‘Twilight To Starlight’; opener WHERE BOYS FEAR TO TREAD, a haunted forest of crunk with an abrupt conclus

‘Love is suicide’: the three-word slogan for the mid-nineties and an accusatory pun inhabiting the refrain on the otherwise simple BODIES.

Fan fave THIRTY-THREE is “a simple song in a country tuning” that would perfectly accompany an emotional Alexander Payne scene. Jesus’ age.

(One nice thing about Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness  is the beautifully curated liner notes, complete with illustrations appropriate to the songs. Much missed now.)

We listeners must suffer Billy’s desire on IN THE ARMS OF SLEEP, a terrible song that serves only the make the next one seem even better.

Zipper Blues would be a great name for a band and 1979 is the quintessential anthem for disillusioned teens or anyone with great taste.

An immediate rejection to newfound lamestream affection is the post-hardcore TALES OF A SCORCHED EARTH. Ante-emo otherwise distorted lyrics.

Genre/genderbending continues with low-fi aplomb when Billy and Jimmy slow jam to a diffused crescendo while looking THRU THE EYES OF RUBY.

Smashing Pumpkins’ reputation for alt or hard rock is tempered by the near-universal love for the softer songs and STUMBLEINE in a paragon.

XYU is 7 minutes of aimless noise and moronic ‘singing’ that has no place among the masterpieces. Imagine a lot of goths liked this one.

Drum circle celebration for unsterile social Siberias in need of roaccutane and something for the side effects because WE ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT.

Billy must have written BEAUTIFUL last as filler to get this up to 28 tracks because it sounds effortless, and not in the good, Disarm, way.

Very creepy LILY (MY ONE AND ONLY) could be Snape singing from behind the bushes to a tickling northern blues beat.

There was a post-grunge trend of sing melancholy over pared down guitar play with minimal fret-ulations and BY STARLIGHT is a nice example.

All four bandmembers choral on the grand finale FAREWELL AND GOODNIGHT, which completes the circle by reprising Mellon Collie. A happy note.

(In toto, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is an amazing, ambitious achievement that has aged very well. Peak of the post-grunge movement and supremely influential; it would have benefited, however, with some tighter song selections; could have been 20 tracks at five stars; instead 28 at 4.5 stars.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s