Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

February 8, 2013

The Smashing Pumpkins ~ Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: alt rock
Label: Virgin
Year: 1995
Home: Chicago, Illinois

Members: Billy Corgan ~ vocals/lead guitar/
Jimmy Chamberlin ~ drums/vocals
James Iha ~ rhythm guitar/b. vocals
D'arcy Wretzky ~ bass/b. vocals

Additional: Chicago Symphony Orchestra ~ n/a
Greg Leisz ~ pedal steel guitar/lap steel guitar

"Tonight, Tonight" & "1979" need no introduction as two of the best songs to come not just from the SP but also the era of grunge. There's a few more hits off this double album including "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", "Thirty-Three" & "Zero". Then there is the rest of this monstrosity that leaves one wondering ... typical of double albums, actually, which often sink or at least struggle to stay afloat. The ambition of the double album is a noble but flawed one. Few bands have been able to get it right. In its favor, SP's attempt doesn't sound gluttonous or overdose the listener with their double album attempt. It has its weak tracks & does feel a bit long, but for those interested in the unique SP sound it doesn't drone on & on monotonously. But, I need to back up a minute. Those last few sentences are only partially true. Let me review the album this way ... I listened to the first CD, which includes all the above mentioned songs sans "1979" & "Thirty-Three", plus the great Soundgarden-esque gurgling "Jellybelly" & the under-rated "Muzzle", while "Love" may not be a highlight but it interestingly foreshadows Machina/The Machines Of God. The ballads on this first CD aren't so bad, though the James Iha penned ballad that ends the CD should stay on his solo album as its tenderness feels out of place. He gets a track ending the second CD. I ignore them both. His solo album isn't bad but his sound clashes in this context. This first CD on its own might not be the greatest SP album, or not even close, but its got some decent moments walking a tightrope between creativity, experimentalism & excess. Then, there's the second CD. Everything I previously wrote? Forget it. Suddenly what I had enjoyed seemed to fall apart at my feet in an embarressing mess of excess, unfriendly music & experimentalism gone haywire. The songs are cold, distant, but not in the interesting way I think the overly layered Machina is. It's almost like there is two SP creating one album here. On one hand there is the intricately layered "1979" SP, the band most of us gravitate to, while on the other hand there is the monotonous guitar churning distortion laden SP that is more interested in the drive of the music than the softer layers of a womb. One is creative, again, if you know "1979" you know what I'm talking about, while the other stuff is creative in a different way & some of the twisted guitar solos are fascinating ... but the songs here are too droning, too angry, sometimes too unfocused in that anger & never climax but tease. The second CD seems to fall where the first stands. But, the first takes the whole project down with it making this a hard sell in total. Yes, it has some moments that beg listening (for example "In The Arms Of Sleep"), but it doesn't feel like there's enough of those moment ... particularly when sitting next to the tortoreous Machina wannabe "Tales Of A Scorched Earth" that makes you wonder if you're listening to the same band, a horrible track to follow "1979" too. Or, the experiment is so over the top that while there might be value in the idea the outcome I have trouble recommending. If the album is about shocking than goal achieved. If it's about making a great SP album, I think my goals for the band are different than founder Billy Corgan's. I know, before you say it, everyone raves about this album. I listened to it over & over & over & felt the lyrics bad & there was nothing that I liked about SP from either before or after remaining here except in glimmers. But, that's what you get in these reviews - my opinion based on my ears & not what others say. I happen to really like the SP. Other reviews here will vouch for that, so I'm not trying to be trendy or arrogant not liking the album. It's not until editing this review I wiki'd the album & saw how different my review was compared to others. I honestly thought it only was successful because of its singles.

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