The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness [Deluxe Box Set]
Virgin/EMI Music 
Fire Note Says: Even though 64 extra tracks seem daunting it is only fitting for such a monumentally epic record.
Album Review: I will totally admit that I let out a somewhat disapproving sigh when I first received this massive 5 CD box set of Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness from The Smashing Pumpkins. Not because I did not think the album deserves such a bold release, as it now is celebrating a Diamond certification selling status, but to even hardcore fans this set is a monstrosity. I know that this album was colossal from the very day Billy and the crew started to work on it but now in 2012 you get an extra 64 tracks of previously unreleased material and alternate versions of Mellon Collie era songs. Overwhelming? Yes. Unnecessary? Probably. Waste of Time? 100% no way!
My initial feelings were quickly eliminated once the first extra track “Tonight, Tonight (Strings Alone Mix)” played out of my speakers as the instrumental is extraordinary sonic. Tonight is already a great track but this orchestrated version just lets the music shine which will be an adjustment for some Pumpkins fans because typically it is all about the lyrics. We then get to hear “Methusela (Sadlands Demo)” which is a piano driven slower tempo ballad that is both brooding and elegant. It is a track that surprisingly didn’t make the record because even in its rough form the song represents the same quality work from this creative era. Even the closing instrumental rocker “Phang (Sadlands Demo)” is a thrill right down to the last guitar.
Along with the more obscure rarities that fell to the Mellon Collie cutting floor there are plenty of alternative versions of album cuts on this deluxe box set which make for an interesting listen. The strong kick drum that starts off the “1979 (Sadlands Demo)” would have given the song a totally different flavor if it had remained while the mostly acoustic version of “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” also turns the power track into a completely different experience. You get to hear on “In The Arms Of Sleep (Early Live Demo)” that some of their early takes on songs translated completely to the big picture with maybe just a few instrument upgrades.
At the end of the day you do not need Mellon Collie to be a full 92 songs nor will you ever have time to cover it in one sitting, given its almost 6 hour running time, but this edition is clearly special. It showcases one of the most creative moments in The Smashing Pumpkins timeline and holds its solid ground still today. This edition also gives you a fully remastered Mellon Collie on the first two discs which sounds superb. The DVD that is included in this set covers a live 1996 show at Brixton Academy, London which for me is not why you purchase this mammoth but a nice extra. If you are a Pumpkins fan then this deluxe box edition is for you and I don’t think you will regret picking it up. If you are more of a casual fan but want the record remastered then go for the 2 disc version. If you love vinyl, Mellon Collie will be spread over 4LPs on 180g wax to optimize sound and will include many other Pumpkin goodies. Regardless of which version you seek out Mellon Collie will still impress you today and will always be part of the 90’s alternative rock discussion.
Key Tracks: “Tonight, Tonight (Strings Alone Mix)”, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings (Sadlands Demo)”, “Phang (Sadlands Demo)”
Artists With Similar Fire: Red Hot Chili Peppers / Bob Mould / Queens Of The Stone Age
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-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony