Stranded In Stereo: My Formative Years: "Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness" by The Smashing Pumpkins, 1995

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Formative Years: "Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness" by The Smashing Pumpkins, 1995

I try to stay away from all the major news hype that's on every spoon and fork website out there, but I can't ignore the return of one of the more important band's of my adolescence, The Smashing Pumpkins. The band (er, half of them plus 3 new people,) returned to the stage for the first time since 2000 playing to a sold out crowd in Paris. Playing 29 songs spanning their entire career over three hours, Billy Corgan lead the group (featuring original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and long-rumored newcomers Ginger Reyes on bass, guitarist Jeff Schroeder and keyboardist Lisa Harriton) through fan favorites and new tracks from the upcoming Zeitgeist, now due on July 10th as opposed to the ominously awesome July 7th. While testing out new material (first single "Tarantula," album opener "Doomsday Clock") they of course had to oblige their alt-rock standards of yesteryear ("1979," "Today," "Bullet With Butterfly Wings.")

Back in October of 1995, I was 11 years old when (in chronological order) the third most important album of my youth was released (I only say in chronological order because I could never sit and try and take all the albums and rank them. That's just not fair. But I digress.) Do we even need to mention the title that is as epic as the record? (OK, it's
Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness.) So, as I was saying. I was in 6th grade, MTV was still doing the video thing, and Allison Stewart told me about the new Smashing Pumpkins video "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" that they were showing ever other damn hour the day it premiered. If you didn't like the song, by the time you saw the video a handful of times you were floored and were ready. You couldn't escape the apocalyptic drums of Chamberl
in, and the dare I say gargantuan guitar riffs from Billy? I heard them perform "Zero" on a MTV Rockumentary and was ready to hear this album that was as epic as those two songs. You've got two discs (Dawn to Dusk and Twilight to Starlight) that tell a story but don't. You've got songs of all range, trying out different tricks at every corner. Instead of 28 songs that were punch after punch to the jugular, those punches were interspersed with light blows. The title track that opens the album uses piano as the solo, the strings being the choir. "Tonight, Tonight" took it up a step to an anthemic floor, but it wasn't until "Jellybelly" that we had those monster riffs come abound.

Disc two of the album is probably one of the most diverse collection of recordings. Towards the end, after the onslaught and chaos of "X.Y.U.," you get wisked away by (the worst song, ever) "We Only Come Out At Night" that just reminds me of fairies floating around or something. But then beautiful laments like "Lily (My One And Only)" lead to the amazing finale, "Farewell And Goodnight," the only song that features all four members lending their vocal talent. And we can't look over the amazing final single from the album ("Thirty-Three") or the Doom sample ("Tales Of A Scorched Earth.") With the exception of "Come Out," I'd say that disc is flawless.

The main debate I find having with people sometimes is which disc is better? For me, without hesitation, is the second. "Where Boys Fear To Tread" is the perfect place to just pick up if you're listening to both discs back to back, with its chug-chug guitars and "oo-ooh" harmonies. "X.Y.U." tries to be the new "Silverfuck," but it's not and it's much better (best song on the whole album. Or should that honor go to one of the other 15 tracks that I would hand the title to?) I've even had people try and tell me they've made an ever better Mellon Collie by making their own sequence and trimming it down to one disc. But what do you cut? "Porcelina," no. "Ruby" you can't, nor "X.Y.U." It's definitely a challenge I propose to anyone reading this.

The Smashing Pumpkins, then:

The Smashing Pumpkins, now:

Buy: Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness [Here]

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