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This will be one lengthy review: It is 2 CDs, and has total of 28 tracks. I had to split it up into two posts. I'm going to be doing a song by song review also. I'll try to make them short, cut, clear and to the point. This review is done purely out of my own knowledge... band history and all.
First, an introduction to the Smashing Pumpkins...
The Smashing Pumpkins cannot be defined by a single genre of music. As with most successful bands, they fused a number of genres together to make an original, appealing sound. They drew inspiration from bands like Led Zeppelin, The Cure, Joy Division and The Beatles. The thing that will make or break this band with your own personal tastes is Billy Corgan's voice. He has the ability to produce a high-pitched, nasal voice and uses it often in songs like Tonight, Tonight and Bullet With Butterfly Wings. Some people like it, some people hate it. Some people, it doesn't bother and they purely enjoy the music.
The Smashing Pumpkins were on of the most notable rock groups of the 1990's. They started out in the late 80's in the local scene of Chicago, Illinois. They were on their way to the top once they gained interest from the owner of a club called The Metro in Chicago. In time, they became a part of the Virgin records family and released Gish in 1991, which established their place in the indie rock underground. They broke out into the mainstream with their 1993 release, Siamese Dream. Two years later, they would drop their defining record and become the rock gods of 1996. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness has sold nearly 10 million records, and defined the career of The Smashing Pumpkins.
During Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, while on tour, Jimmy Chamberlain and Jonathon Melvoin overdosed on heroin. Jimmy survived... Jonathon did not. Jonathon Melvoin was their touring keyboardist. The Pumpkins regrouped and continued touring... but Jimmy was kicked out, and he went through rehab. This was major... the Pumpkins went on to write an album without him, Adore, and then got him back for one more album, Machina, and then played their final show on December 2, 2000.
General thoughts regarding MCIS
One of my favorite albums of all-time, without a question. It is purely epic. The range of music genres displayed through all songs is what makes this album. From orchestrated, up-lifting songs like Tonight Tonight, to hard, raunchy rock like Bullet With Butterfly Wings, to soft lullabys like Beautiful, there has to be one song on here that would appeal to one's ears.
Dawn to Dusk
Track 1: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
To begin the journey of MCIS, is a piano piece to set up the following song perfectly. No lyrics, no guitar, no drums... just a piano and some other effects. It's quite good, but hard to rate. It's high score mainly comes from being a great opening piece for the song to follow, and the entire album. [4/5]
Track 2: Tonight, Tonight
The band plays with a full 30 piece orchestra here. Billy Corgan's "whiney" voice is in full effect here during the chorus. The lyrics are genious. It is very motivating, epic and up-lifting because of the lyrics. The backing orchestra adds so much to this song, it makes this song what it is... one of the best Pumpkins songs out there. Beautiful string arrangement on this one. It was the 4th single released off the album. [5/5]
Track 3: Jellybelly
Now they enter straight into rock after great introductions by tracks 1 and 2 of this album. I don't know how to describe it other than: great, rocking tune. [4/5]
Track 4: Zero
Classic rock riff that has produced many cover attempts by bands like Evanescence and Bad Religion. James Iha described this song, as something that would be written by Judas Priest. This was the 3rd single release off the album, although it was only initially supposed to be a radio single. [4/5]
Track 5: Here is No Why
The highlight of this song has to be the solo. It's fantastic. Not anything technically astounding, but it is very well written. It's a rock tune about being a rockstar, basically. [5/5]
Track 6: Bullet With Butterfly Wings
The first single released off the album, and it pretty much lead the way for putting SP in the spotlight. "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage!" The defining lyric of this song. It's hard, it's fast and it's memorable. It's often mislabelled as "Rat in a cage" on P2P programs. [4/5]
Track 7: To Forgive
Enough with all rock songs already... time to slow things down a bit. Nice acoustic piece, it's a rather depressing song. It's the other side of The Smashing Pumpkins with quiet guitar, and emotion derived from sadness. [5/5]
Track 8: Fuck You (An Ode to Noone)
The title of the track explains it all. It's a thrash song which Billy described as his big "Fuck you" to the world. I'm not much of a fan of this song. It's fairly intense. [3/5]
Track 9: Love
Another track that I don't like too much. Something you listen to... once in a great while. It's laid back, and uses alot of effects on it. It's about love, not quite some sappy love song though. [3/5]
Track 10: Cupid de Locke
Like the previous one, except this one is definitely a sappy love poem. Not too fond of it myself. These three tracks here are sort of a down time on the CD. I guess that's what you get for 28 songs, although some of the B-Side are quite good, and could have replaced songs like these. [2.5/5]
Track 11: Galapagos
Great song. It's a clean guitar song and one of the best songs on this album. Really good lyrics, and a great atmosphere to it. [5/5]
Track 12: Muzzle
Now we pick back up again to a rock song, this one is more pop-rock though. Released as a radio single, and despite it's catchy tone, reading into the lyrics you find it's rather a depressing song. I guess you could describe it as accepting loss in a good way. Contains my favorite lyrics of all time.[5/5]
Track 13: Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
Starts out really slow, ends really slow, but in between it all is just some great, loud music. Long song, 8 minutes or so. Don't know the exactness of it all. It's the "epic" song of disc 1. SP always tends to put one long, epic song on each of their releases, this is it. The lyrics are very poetic. [4/5]
Track 14: Take Me Down
This one has James Iha singing. If you want to find out what his solo work is like, here it is. I think it's quite good, but anyway. Good way to close out Dawn to Dusk, soft acoustic piece that is quite catchy. [3.5/5]
Twilight to Starlight
Track 1: Where Boys Fear to Tread
I don't really connect with this song all that well. It has a great riff in it, but the lyrics don't make much sense to me. Billy has a diluted mind anyway and likes it that way. He's readily said before that he tends to write completely random lyrics. [3/5]
Track 2: Bodies
"Love is suicide!" Sort of like the defining line of Bullet With Butterfly Wings. It's an easy song, easy riff work that's pretty much just an "angry" song with Billy screaming. He actually screams alright for once, and doesn't use his high pitched screech. I like this song alot. [4/5]
Track 3: Thirty-Three
Released as the fifth and last single. Some people like it alot, some don't. I like it a lot. The lyrics are really great. It was the first song written for the album. Basically, as Billy was coming down from the high of the popularity of Siamese Dream, he wrote it with a great outlook on life. During Vh1 Storytellers, he said the title "33" came from when he saw a fortune teller and was told his life would change at age 33 (Something along those lines). Oddly enough, the Smashing Pumpkins came to an end while he was at the age of 33. [4.5/5]
Track 4: In the Arms of Sleep
Wonderful acoustic track. It's a song about loneliness and desire for love. My only problem with it is this one part in the middle where Billy starts screeching the lyrics, otherwise, it's a fantastic acoustic song that really soothes the ears. [4/5]
Track 5: 1979
Released as the second single, and during the summer of 96, I think, it was one of the summer classics. A song about reckless youth in it's prime. Something everyone can connect to. Great song all around... great riff, and then, in the middle it's amazing. The bridge part of the song, I guess you call it. I've heard some live versions and when they do it perfectly it's a great experience. Great song! [5/5]
Track 6: Tales of a Scorched Earth
Another one of those angry songs. I think it could have been better. It's for one of those moods where you hate everything. Different from An Ode to Noone though. Singing is a bit twisted from the effects. It was only performed once live, but never again because of the strain it put on Billy's throat. [1/5]
Track 7: Thru the Eyes of Ruby
The epic, long song of disc 2. The best song on the album, and possibly the best SP song ever. It has some really great parts, like the bridge in 1979. Where the guitar kicks in and the lyrics are "With this ring I wed thee...", then there is the part where Billy screams "The night has come to hold us young" and then they very last segment of the song, an absolutely beautiful acoustic piece. As the main song full of distortion fades, acoustic guitars come in. It is really amazing. Not too long, like 20 seconds or so, and the worst thing is they let it fade unfinished so you want more! The complete version of the last segment is called Mellon Collie Reprise, or so I hear. It's really rare, I haven't found it yet, but then again I haven't looked to hard. Beautiful while it lasts... [5/5]
Track 8: Stumbleine
Just Billy and a guitar. Great song. Softly sung, and a catchy little acoustic riff. Wonderful lyrics... "Nobody nowhere understands anything, about me, and all my dreams... lost at sea." Great way to follow Thru the Eyes of Ruby [5/5]
Track 9: X.Y.U
Angry love song. I'm not a fan of it by any means. It's a real thrash song in the middle... where they really speed things up leading into the end. Not my song really... so... [2/5]
Track 10: We Only Come Out at Night
Full of effects and electronic music type stuff. Really good lyrics too. Easy vibe. Don't know what else to say. Fairly decent song. [4/5]
Track 11: Beautiful
A corny love song. It's really catchy though, especially the guitar in the middle. D'arcy and Billy sing it together, like a duet or something. I actually like this song despite it's corny lyrics, and love vibe. Certainly not for everyone though. [4/5]
Track 12: Lily (My One and Only)
As far as I know, Lily is Billy's cat. It's just a simple song, which Billy dedicates to his cat and all those times they aren't together when Billy is on the road... [3/5]
Track 13: By Starlight
As you can see, Twilight to Starlight is really toned down and has a different vibe from the first. This is a very mellow and beautiful love song. [4/5]
Track 14: Farewell and Goodnight
Perfect ending to this saga. Acoustic guitar, piano, hand drum and I think a guitar with a wah effect. All four members sing here, which makes the song. The first part is Billy and James. Then the second part is D'arcy and Jimmy, and then Billy comes back in. They all sing together, a good night song. Then the rest of the instruments fade out and leave the piano... it's a beautiful piano piece. Perfect ending. The piano continues and fades off... ending a great album. [5/5]
Overall rating: 5/5
I actually did it... whew.
The album was originally slated to be 31 songs (Set the Ray to Jerry, Tonite Reprise and Ugly) but it was later cut down to 28.
The Aeroplane Flies High was a box set released to account for the five singles releases of this albums. It contains all the b-sides like the three cut before.
The last songs on both Dawn to Dusk and Twilight to Starlight are the same length.
Almost all songs were written by Billy Corgan... except for Take Me Down, and Farewell and Goodnight, which were partly written by James Iha.