The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)

Today’s main feature is the great, the epic, 28-track album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the third album by American alternative rock legends The Smashing Pumpkins. The album was released on October 24, 1995, and basically includes two albums: Dawn to Dusk, and Twilight to Starlight.

I first became aware of The Smashing Pumpkins while watching a live performance of the band on an alternative music show on MTV called 120 Minutes, which aired during the 1990s. Billy Corgan’s singing voice was as weird and awkward as mine, so I liked him right away. In addition, the charismatic appearance of guitar player James Iha and bass player D’Arcy Wretzky gave a very refreshing twist to the band’s personality; and Jimmy Chamberlin’s feel on drums really tightened the grip around my attention. I then picked up their then-current album Siamese Dream, which was quite good, but never made it into my ‘favorite albums’ drawer. Eventually, when Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness came out in 1995, it was a different story.

I remember standing in our local music shop with big headphones on and letting the piano intro grab my attention, and when the opener ‘Tonight, Tonight’ began with the arguably most melancholic string arrangement in alternative rock history, I was sold. There was not much rock or distorted guitars going on – actually there were non at all, yet – but the feel was more than awesome. Eventually, heavy guitars entered and I started nodding along.

Usually, I would only listen to the verse and the chorus and then jump to the next track, but with this masterpiece, I couldn’t help but listening to the entire album – or better, both albums. The great thing was that the album consisted of two CDs and I got to listen to the second CD in its entirety as well; a 122-minutes alternative rock opera. Billy Corgan once described the album as “’The Wall’ for Generation X”, which is absolutely spot on, and I had found my long-awaited Generation X soundtrack.

The year 1995 didn’t see many great albums grabbing me, so Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness gave me some of the most honest songs of that time. My favorites are the following:

Dawn to Dusk
2. “Tonight, Tonight”
4. “Zero”
8. “An Ode to No One”
9. “Love”
10. “Cupid de Locke”

Twilight to Starlight
2. “Bodies”
3. “Thirty-Three”
5. “1979”
11. “Beautiful”
13. “By Starlight”

To recap: I fell in love with the story the album told, the atmosphere it created, and the world it transported me to. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is definitely a masterpiece. Find out for yourself and let me know in the comment section or on Twitter what you think about this rightly self-proclaimed soundtrack of the Generation X.

Album grade:
Lyrics 7/10
Musicianship 8/10
Production 10/10
Concept 9/10
Total grade: 8.5/10

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer