Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time – #487: The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)

Is it way too long?  Probably.  But the Pumpkins third effort sure has its moments of greatness.


Any album that has 28 tracks and runs well over two hours is likely to be in need of some trimming, and I would argue this is no exception.  However, instead of focusing on the weaker songs of this double-album behemoth, how about a quick rundown of the tracks to know from a record that has sold over ten million copies in the United States (that’s Diamond status, bitches).

While songwriter/guitarist/famously nasal vocalist Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain are the constants to the band throughout both their 1990s salad days and the 2006-current second act, the true greatness was most evident when guitar-whiz James Iha and bassist D’Arcy Wretzky were present (pre the band’s 2000 dissolution).  The influence of classic prog rock is palpable, and the band is at their best when they scratch that itch.

A great example is the near-metal assault of “Jellybelly”, a short-and-sweet aggro number that finds Billy and James shredding for just under three minutes of glory.  The pulsating loud-quiet propulsion of “Here is No Why” is a favorite of mine here, and another deep cut worth checking out if you aren’t familiar.

Then, there are the singles that carried this thing atop rock radio for nearly two years.  It’s pretty tough to top the riffage, incessant drumming, and keys of “Zero” although “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” comes close.  “The world is a vampire, sent to drain”, folks.  “Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage” is about as mid-90s angsty as it gets.

Things get pretty on the quieter and thoughtful “Tonight, Tonight” which finds Billy pleading for someone to “believe, believe in me”, and the proceedings lean heavily towards New Wave on the mega-hit “1979”.  All in all, there is as much mediocre music as there is greatness over these two hours, but if I made a Pumpkins greatest hits record, nearly half of it would come from this album.


Worthy Tracks: “Tonight, Tonight”, “Jellybelly”, “Zero”, “Here Is No Why”, “1979”, “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”

Final Verdict: This is a solid album, although not their finest (see Siamese Dream for that).

Spotify album link:

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