Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness—Deluxe Box Set
Virgin Records

WithMellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the Smashing Pumpkins pushed the already loose boundaries of the alt-rock scene and created the most grandiose album of the ’90s. Coming off the mainstream success ofSiamese Dream, the band had built up some artistic capital and then proceeded to spend every last ounce of it with a sprawling, well-orchestrated opus that served as the Gen Xers’
The Wall. Now, 17 years later, the high point of the Pumpkin’s career gets the reissue treatment along with a huge trove of demos, alternate versions, and even rare video that paints a crystal-clear picture of the pinnacle of alt-rock’s most enigmatic group.

If you expect your fans to buy a box set that does include some previously released material, the devil is in the details and Corgan delivers. Along with the remastered original album, there are three full discs of demos, unreleased tracks, and sketches of tunes. And that’s in addition to a DVD of two classic Pumpkins shows from ’96. That’s plenty of new material for even the most die-hard Pumpkinhead. For a collection like this, it almost makes more sense to listen to the albums with the songs grouped together in alphabetical order, comparing and contrasting different versions of tunes in an effort to understand and track the band’s musical direction.

The solo acoustic take on “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” is especially beautiful, and when you compare it to the seven-minute-plus final studio version, the two editions give you a pretty good glimpse into Corgan’s more prog tendencies. There’s no mistaking that even though this was a product of the band in name, Corgan was really the one pushing the group’s creative direction. Creating lush soundscapes with underpinnings of fuzzed-out guitars and skin-tight grooves was the mantra for the Mellon Collie sessions, and this collection serves it up for a new generation to lose themselves in.
—Jason Shadrick

Must-hear tracks: “1979 (Sadlands Demo)” and “Jellybelly (Instrumental/Pit Mix 3)