Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness [deluxe edition] - EMI
FILTER Grade: 88%
By Nevin Martell on December 4, 2012
Perhaps one of the most ambitious efforts of the ’90s, the Smashing Pumpkins’ creative zenith can still hold its head high a decade and a half later. The sprawling double LP was never perfect—its majesty and lofty aspirations were sometimes overshadowed by its preposterousness and self-indulgence—but Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ triumphs far outweigh its failures.
This impressive expanded edition drives that point home by giving insight into the record’s rich gestational process. Three bonus discs come loaded with 64 extra tracks (many unreleased), including demos, alternate takes and new mixes. There is a lot to process here, but that’s why noise-cancelling headphones, shag rugs and tightly rolled spliffs exist. A gentle acoustic sketch of “Tonight, Tonight,” a lulling live version of “In the Arms of Sleep” and a stripped-down early demo of “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” all demonstrate the conciseness of Billy Corgan’s songwriting during this period. His vision was so crystal clear that his frameworks never seemed to have been overtaken by the considerable embellishments of producers Alan Moulder and Flood.
Listening back to this completist’s wet dream over the course of several hours, one is reminded of a time not so long ago when artists spent time crafting full suites of music, not just scattershot singles. Even though hubris sometimes derailed Corgan, when he was at his peak he was one of the last modern masters of the album format.