Sunday, November 13, 2011

NUMBER 1 ALBUMS: SMASHING PUMPKINS - MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS


Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness
Artist: Smashing Pumpkins 
Title: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Year: 1995
Weeks #1: One 
Label: Virgin Records 
Producer: Flood, Billy Corgan, Alan Moulder
Track listing: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness / Tonight, Tonight / Jellybelly / Zero / Here Is No Why / Bullet with Butterfly Wings / To Forgive /An Ode to No One / Love / Cupid de Locke / Galapogogs / Muzzle / Porcelina of the Vast Oceans / Tame Me Down / Where Boys Fear to Tread / Bodies/ Thirty-three / In the Arms of Sleep / 1979 / Tales of a Scorched Earth / Thru the Eyes of Ruby / Stumbleine / X.Y.U. / We Only Come Out at Night / Beautiful / Lily (My One and Only) / By Starlight / Farewell and Goodnight.

Virgin Records' decision to release the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness as a two-CD set was a risky move for the label and the band. Certainly, the sprawling, double-disc opus would separate the Chicago-based band from its alternative rock peers. But in the CD era, double-disc packages are usually reserved for greatest-hits sets or live albums, not 28 new songs. In fact, few rock artists have dared to release so much new material at once since the CD become the dominant configuration for recorded music. Indeed, in 1991, when Columbia and Geffen released, respectively, Bruce Springsteen's Human Touch and Lucky Town and Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion I and II, in both cases the labels opted to spread the artist's material out over two simultaneously but separately released CDs.

At the time of the release of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the Pumpkins had secured their position as one of modern rock's brightest commercial forces. The band's previous album, 1994's Pisces Iscariot, was a collection of B-sides and rarities, but it still managed to reach number four, while 1993's Siamese Dream made number 10.

Despite the success, the question remained: Was the Pumpkins' fan base loyal enough to shell out for a double CD? That's just the kind of challenge Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan wanted to make with the album. "It's not what anyone would expect from a band that is supposedly going to be big," he says. "These days, selling records has become so formulized. This is the record that we should be going after top 40 radio with, [but] I wanted to do the best artistic thing I could do, and if it sells, it sells because of its artistic success, not because we are conforming to some kind of preconceived idea about how to make a band big."

Smashing Pumpkins
Corgan began working on the album immediately after the Pumpkins completed their headlining stint on the 1994 Lollapalooza tour. From the initial stages, he had a double CD in mind. Each disc has a subtitle—Dawn to Dusk and Twilight to Starlight—but Corgan says that was just a device to separate the music. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is not a concept album, he says.

The album, produced by Flood, Alan Moulder, and Corgan, was written and recorded in 10 months at several studios in Chicago and Los Angeles. Impressed by Flood's work with Depeche Mode and U2, Corgan invited the producer to a Lollapalooza date, where he agreed to work with the band, which includes bassist/vocalist D'Arcy, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and guitarist James Iha. Co-producer Moulder mixed Siamese Dream.

Opening with the piano-based instrumental title track, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness runs the gamut from rockers to ballads, and incorporates a variety of instrumentation, including pedal and lap steel guitar, strings, and mellotron. As a whole, the album "is not self-indulgent," says Corgan. "It doesn't have long-winded guitar solos or space jams—it's a song-based album."

The Pumpkins' bold move paid off when Mellon Collie entered The Billboard 200 at Number One, becoming the first two-disc set of all new material to bow at the top in the CD era. (Among previous double-CD chart-toppers, Pink Floyd's Pulse featured live versions of old material, while Michael Jackson's HIStory included a disc of hits and a disc of new material.) The Pumpkins' experiment had paid off.

THE TOP FIVE
Week of November 11, 1995
1. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, The Smashing Pumpkins
2. Daydream, Mariah Carey
3. Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette
4. Ozzmosis, Ozzy Osbourne
5. The Greatest Hits Collection, Alan Jackson


 

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