Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is The Smashing Pumpkins' debut studio album which was released by Virgin Records on October 23, 1995 in the United Kingdom and October 24, 1995 in the United States.
After the 13-month tour in support of The Smashing Pumpkins' second album, "Siamese Dream," Billy Corgan immediately began writing songs for the band's next record. From the outset, the band intended the new record to be a double album, partly inspired by The Beatles' self-titled album.
Corgan said: "We almost had enough material to make Siamese Dream a double album. With this new album, I really liked the notion that we would create a wider scope in which to put other kinds of material we were writing." He also felt that the band's musical approach was running its course, and wanted the band to approach the album as if it were its last.
Corgan described the album at the time to the music press as "The Wall for Generation X", a comparison with Pink Floyd's 1979 album, one of the highest selling and best known concept albums of all time.
The band decided to forgo working with Butch Vig (who had produced the group's previous albums) and selected Flood and Alan Moulder as co-producers.
Corgan explained, "To be completely honest, I think it was a situation where we'd become so close to Butch that it started to work to our disadvantage... I just felt we had to force the situation, sonically, and take ourselves out of normal Pumpkin recording mode. I didn't want to repeat past Pumpkin work."
Flood immediately pushed the band to change its recording practices. Corgan later said, "Flood felt like the band he would see live wasn't really captured on record".
In April 1995, the band began recording in a rehearsal space, instead of entering the studio straight away. At these sessions, the band recorded rough rhythm tracks with Flood. Originally designed to create a rough draft for the record, the rehearsal space sessions ended up yielding much of the new album's rhythm section parts.
Flood also insisted the band set aside time each day devoted to jamming or songwriting, practices the band had never engaged in before during recording sessions. Corgan said, "Working like that kept the whole process very interesting—kept it from becoming a grind."
Corgan sought to eliminate the tension that permeated the "Siamese Dream" recording sessions. Corgan said regarding the problems with recording "Siamese Dream" was "[T]o me, the biggest offender was the insidious amounts of time that everyone spends waiting for guitar parts to be overdubbed. There were literally weeks where no one had anything to do but sit and wait."
The band decided to counter idleness by using two recording rooms at the same time. This tactic allowed Corgan to work on vocals and song arrangements in one room while recording was done in the other.
During these sessions, Flood and Corgan would work in one room as Moulder, guitarist James Iha, and bassist D'arcy Wretzky worked in a second.
Iha and Wretzky had a much greater role in the recording of the album, unlike the prior albums where Corgan was rumored to have recorded all the bass and guitar parts himself James Iha commented about the recording sessions,
The big change is that Billy is not being the big 'I do this—I do that'. It's much better. The band arranged a lot of songs for this record, and the song writing process was organic. The circumstances of the last record and the way that we worked was really bad.
Following the rehearsal space sessions, the band recorded overdubs at the Chicago Recording Company. Pro Tools was used for recording guitar overdubs as well as for post-production electronic looping and sampling.
Wretzky also recorded numerous backup vocal parts, but all were cut except the one recorded for "Beautiful." When the recording sessions concluded, the band had 57 completed songs which were up for contention to be included on the album.
The album was originally going to have 32 songs, but this was cut back to 28 songs.
Disc 1: Dawn To Dusk
- Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness 2:51
- Tonight, Tonight 4:13
- Jellybelly 3:00
- Zero 2:39
- Here Is No Why 3:44
- Bullet With Butterfly Wings 4:16
- To Forgive 4:15
- An Ode To No One 4:49
- Love 4:20
- Cupid De Locke 2:49
- Galapogos 4:45
- Muzzle 3:43
- Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans 9:20
- Take Me Down 2:50
Disc 2: Twilight To Starlight
- Where Boys Fear To Tread 4:21
- Bodies 4:11
- Thirty-Three 4:09
- In The Arms Of Sleep 4:11
- 1979 4:24
- Tales Of A Scorched Earth 3:45
- Thru The Eyes Of Ruby 7:37
- Stumbleine 2:53
- X.Y.U. 7:06
- We Only Come Out At Night 4:04
- Beautiful 4:17
- Lily (My One And Only) 3:30
- By Starlight 4:47
- Farewell And Goodnight 4:21
"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Diamond by the RIAA with sales of 5,000,000. It also topped the charts in Canada, Australia, Sweden & New Zealand.
The album also reached Gold, Platinum and Diamond status in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden & the United Kingdom.
"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" received critical acclaim.
Christopher John Farley of Time called the album "the group's most ambitious and accomplished work yet." Farley wrote: "One gets the feeling that the band [...] charged ahead on gut instincts; the sheer scope of the album (28 songs) didn't allow for second-guessing or contrivance."
Time magazine selected "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" as the best album of the year in its year-end "Best of 1995" list.
Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A rating; reviewer David Browne praised the group's ambition and wrote, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is more than just the work of a tortured, finicky pop obsessive. Corgan presents himself as one of the last true believers: someone for whom spewing out this much music results in some sort of high art for the ages. He doesn't seem concerned with persistent alterna-rock questions of 'selling out', and good for him: He's aiming for something bigger and all-conquering."
IGN gave the album a score of 9.5 out of 10 and said: "As the band's magnum opus it single-handedly changed the face of Alternative Rock. That said, it's not just music, but a work of art."
The Music Box gave it all five stars and said, "Indeed, for all its melodramatic self-indulgence, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is one of the best double albums of new material to be released by anyone in a long time."
Rolling Stone gave the album three out of five stars. Reviewer Jim DeRogatis praised the album as "one of the rare epic rock releases whose bulk is justified in the grooves".
DeRogatis noted that "the 28 songs on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness aren’t linked by a libretto. They’re only connected conceptually through the broad theme of being part of a day in the life of a typical, alienated teen."
He also stated that the album's main flaw was Corgan's lyrics, describing the songwriter as "wallowing in his own misery and grousing about everyone and everything not meeting his expectations."
DeRogatis contended that while Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness "may even match The Wall in its sonic accomplishments", Corgan's lyrics lacked in comparison.
Mojo reviewer Ben Edmunds also praised the music while criticizing Corgan's lyrics. Edmunds wrote, "[Corgan's] lyrics appear to be the repository for the worst aspects of his most treasured influences. He writes with a heavy metal aptitude for wordplay and an inflated prog-rock conviction of its worth, a deadening combination. But there's a sliver of distance in his rage-mongering now that comments as well as expresses."
In his Consumer Guide, Village Voice critic Robert Christgau picked "1979" as a "choice cut", indicating "a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money".