Friday, October 23, 2015

mellon collie and the infinite sadness

The Smashing Pumpkins wreaked havoc with restless resolute rage in the enchanted emptiness of sacred starlight to find meaning in the mad murmurs of this mysterious musical missive.   The band had broken through with the multi-platinum success of their second album Siamese Dream and during the exhausting thirteen month tour that followed, band leader Billy Corgan had hatched a plan for an ambitious followup:   "After Siamese Dream, I really felt that we had no future, that it was the end of the line as far as the band went, emotionally and creatively. I felt that I had completely stretched my abilities beyond the beyond. Also, I started to feel my age. And I could sense other band members starting to root down. You start to lose just that little bit of edge. I think about the attack posture that the band had in the early days, the hunger, and then you see people getting more worried about mortgages and stuff like that...The third thing was that we were reaching the end of a creative cycle. Or at least I was, where the basic format of up-and-down rock guitars, pounding drums--all these elements that are classic Smashing Pumpkins was reaching its end point It's become such a formulaic thing and not just by us. People don't even bat an eye anymore. You start to lose at your own game just from sheer imitation...So I said, 'Let's approach this like it's our last album.' Because it either will be our last album, or it will be our last album as people know the Smashing Pumpkins. And it was a very freeing decision to make. It was just a matter of pushing it as far as we could go--in harmony."

 D'Arcy Wretzky considers the pressure going in"If you don't sell more than the last record, it means you're going downhill...We all had our own head things going on that summer.  Not so much tension within the band, but just not being able to deal with other people in general."

Jimmy Chamberlin: "After putting everybody's egos and personal shortcomings aside, you have what you love to do, which is to make music...It was the sound of four people together."

James Iha:   "It was time to make another record or disband.  Nobody wanted to go through the high dramatic b.s. anymore. It was totally necessary for everyone to do the next record...It was about going for a feel rather than editing or cutting something into shape."

The band opted out of working again with Butch Vig (who had produced Gish and Siamese Dream) and tried to change things up by bringing in Flood and Alan Moulder as co-producers.  Some tracks were started in the fall of 1994 at Corgan's home studio Sadlands as well as Bugg Studios at Iha's home; but Flood insisted that they play live together on a daily basis.  They began recording basic tracks at their Pumpkinland rehearsal space on the North Side of Chicago, which ended up forming the foundation of the album.  More work was done at the Chicago Recording Company and The Village Recorder with multiple recording booths making it easier to get more work done.  And there was a lot of work to be done, adding sythesizers, sequencers, loops, and other embellishments gave each track its own sound.   In the end, 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness'  had twenty-eight songs and clocked in at over two hours long.  

'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' features  Jimmy Chamberlin on drums, vocals on "Farewell and Goodnight";   Billy Corgan on lead vocals, lead guitar, piano, mellotron, production, mixing, string arrangement on "Tonight, Tonight", art direction and design;   James Iha on rhythm guitar; backing vocals, mixing, and additional production on "Take Me Down" and "Farewell and Goodnight"; vocals on "Take Me Down";   D'arcy Wretzky on bass guitar, vocals on "Beautiful" and "Farewell and Goodnight";    with   the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing on "Tonight, Tonight";   Greg Leisz adding pedal and lap steel guitar on "Take Me Down";  and  Audrey Riley doing the string arrangement for "Tonight, Tonight".   

It was a painstaking process.  Corgan admits:   "I know it looks anal...It is a means to an end  It's not the best means to an end. It's not the shortest distance between two points. But it is a means to an end. In a weird kind of way, music has afforded me an idealism and perfectionism that I could never attain as me...It's really the end of an era.  Most people don't know us except for Siamese Dream. In their minds this is our second album. But for me, it's seven years of playing in clubs, dragging your equipment upstairs, dealing with my dad, all those doubts, people writing stuff about us, the band almost falling apart--you look at all those things, and you can't help but go, 'We fucking did it.'...We finally managed to manifest everything I always thought we could do...Somehow we managed to get a lot of blood out of the stone...We've talked about it as a band.  It's a pretty amazing war horse, a great accomplishment. Fuck, nobody can take this away...It will be totally misunderstood by plus-30-year-old rock critics.  I'm not writing it for them, even though I'm on the edge of losing my connection to youth, as is anyone entering their late 20s, and you've got a house, you get married, and the things that are important in your life begin to change. But I wanted to communicate from the edge of it, an echo back to the generation that's coming, to sum up all the things I felt as a youth but was never able to voice articulately."

'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' soared to number thirty-six in Austria;  thirty-three in Japan;  twenty-one in Germany;  eighteen in Italy;  fourteen in Finland;  eight in Scotland and Spain;  seven in Norway;  six in France and the Netherlands;  five in Portugal;  four in the UK;  two in Belgium;  and number one in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and the US.   In the US, the album made its debut at number one.  

'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness'  earned The Smashing Pumpkins Grammy nominations for Album of the Year, Record of the Year ("1979"), Best Alternative Music Performance, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal ("1979"), Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal ("Bullet with Butterfly Wings"), Best Pop Instrumental Performance ("Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"), and Best Music Video, Short Form ("Tonight, Tonight").  The band won only one:   Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal for "Bullet with Butterfly Wings".   

'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' has sold over ten million copies in the US alone. 

"Tonight, Tonight" went to forty-six in the Netherlands, thirty-nine in Belgium, thirty-six on the US pop chart, twenty-one in Australia, thirteen in Ireland, seven in the UK, five on the US alternative chart, four on the US mainstream rock tracks chart, and number two in New Zealand. 

"1979" became the band's biggest hit, reaching number thirty-eight in France, twenty-nine in the Netherlands, twenty-one in Belgium, sixteen in Australia and the UK, twelve on the US pop chart, nine in New Zealand, six in Ireland, two in Canada, and number one on the US alternative chart and the US mainstream rock tracks chart.

"Bullet with Butterfly Wings" reached number forty-one in New Zealand, thirty-three in Australia, twenty-two on the US pop chart, twenty in the UK, eighteen in Canada and the Netherlands, seventeen in France, number four on the US mainstream rock tracks chart, and number two on the US alternative chart.  It gave the band their first top forty hit and their first Grammy.  

"Thirty-Three" hit fifty-one in Australia, thirty-nine on the US pop chart, twenty-four in Canada, twenty-one in the UK, eighteen on the US mainstream rock tracks chart, seven in New Zealand, and number two on the US alternative chart.  

"Zero"  found value at number fifteen on the US mainstream rock tracks chart,  nine on the US alternative chart, and number three in New Zealand.  

smashing pumpkins - zero by aquarius3

'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' 
full album:

All songs written by Billy Corgan, except where noted.

Disc one – Dawn to Dusk
1. "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"     2:52
2. "Tonight, Tonight"     4:14
3. "Jellybelly"     3:01
4. "Zero"     2:41
5. "Here Is No Why"     3:45
6. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"     4:18
7. "To Forgive"     4:17
8. "Fuck You (An Ode to No One)"     4:51
9. "Love"     4:21
10. "Cupid de Locke"     2:50
11. "Galapogos"     4:47
12. "Muzzle"     3:44
13. "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans"     9:21
14. "Take Me Down"   Iha 2:52

Disc two – Twilight to Starlight
1. "Where Boys Fear to Tread"     4:22
2. "Bodies"     4:12
3. "Thirty-Three"     4:10
4. "In the Arms of Sleep"     4:12
5. "1979"     4:25
6. "Tales of a Scorched Earth"     3:46
7. "Thru the Eyes of Ruby"     7:38
8. "Stumbleine"     2:54
9. "X.Y.U."     7:07
10. "We Only Come Out at Night"     4:05
11. "Beautiful"     4:18
12. "Lily (My One and Only)"     3:31
13. "By Starlight"     4:48
14. "Farewell and Goodnight"   Iha 4:22


01 - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness [0:00]
02 - Lily (My One and Only) [2:34]
03 - To Forgive [5:53]
04 - Bullet With Butterfly Wings [9:40]
05 - Here Is No Why [14:10]
06 - Galapogos - [17:50]
07 - Frantic Ab Groove [22:05]
08 - Autumn Nocturne [24:57]
09 - Ugly [26:27]
10 - Wishing You Were [29:14]
11 - Thirty-Three [32:21]
12 - Beautiful [36:35]

The album cover was done by illustrator John Craig, using a composite of images from classic paintings.   The face is Greuze by French painter Jean-Baptiste.

The body is from a Raphael painting of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Moon demo

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