REWIND: As Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness turns 22, JOE ranks its 5 best songs
The world is a vampire…
The opening line in the most famous song on the most famous album from The Smashing Pumpkins, it was also a line that launched thousands of ‘moshes’ at teenage discos throughout Ireland in the mid-1990s.
There’s nothing that makes you feel your age quite like the realisation that an album that formed the soundtrack to your teenage years is 22 years old. But apart from rocking out to Bullet with Butterfly Wings down in the local community centre, my memories of the album are still crystal clear two decades on.
The Bullet with Butterfly Wings video appearing regularly on Top 30 hits. Mopey-looking teenagers wearing the black ‘Zero’ t-shirt made so famous by Billy Corgan that it was referenced on an episode of The Simpsons.
Clip via QuaoarianElf
And, from an Irish perspective, the tragedy that unfolded when the band played at The Point Depot in May 1996, when a 17-year old Irish girl was killed after a crush in the crowd got out of hand is a sad memory to recall.
Albums might not mean a great deal now but they did in 1995 and the Pumpkins went all out with their third album after Gish and the excellent Siamese Dream.
Double albums were not the done thing and when they were, it was by bands who had a big enough reputation and a back catalogue of sufficient quality that they could survive if the whole thing went t*ts up.
The result, a 28-song behemoth, was not without its faults. It contains traces of self-indulgence, something that I bore witness to in an ultimately disappointing return to Ireland for the Pumpkins at the RDS in the summer of 2008.
Some of the songs are way too long and over the top. The fantastical themes that prevailed throughout are a little bit much at times. And Billy Corgan’s distinctive wail is tolerable for a while, but you’d be forgiven for getting a little sick of it after just under two hours.
Overall, though, considering the scale of the project, it turned out to be a very fine album and a huge success.
It’s tough trying to narrow it down to five, but here are our five favourite songs.
"Making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel," said Bart Simpson when the Pumpkins played this song in the Homerpalooza episode.
It may be bleak, but it's simple, straightforward rock and it's hard not to be affected by the almost hypnotic riff that persists throughout.
Clip via Alex Marvik
Thru the Eyes of Ruby
One of the more ambitious songs on a very ambitious album and at seven minutes and 38 seconds long, you need a bit of patience to stick it out to the end.
It does, however, achieve the mix of loud and quiet that Corgan and the Pumpkins sought throughout their career and is easily one of the strongest songs on what is the weaker half of the album.
Clip via kassirback's channel
After a subtle, piano-led introduction provided by the title track, Tonight, Tonight really starts the album off with a bang, with the accompanying orchestra showing a side to the band that hadn't been seen in their first two albums.
A really cracking tune, it delivers a sign of things to come in the rest of the album as the pace drops during the verses before picking up relentlessly during the chorus, a pattern repeated in a number of songs that follow afterwards.
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
The most iconic track on the album and arguably the most iconic song ever written by the band, it is an anthem dripping in fury and rage for just over four minutes.
There are a lot of songs with melody and a lot of songs with fancy trimmings on this album, but this is certainly not one of them.
Turn the speakers up to 11, get ready to bang that head and deliberately bump into the next person you see; if there is any song better for temporarily clearing any frustration that's bottled up inside, we haven't heard it.
Reportedly the last song written by Billy Corgan for the album, it is believed that Flood, the producer, wanted it axed altogether, prompting the lead singer to apply some finishing touches to ensure he made the cut.
It's a good job he did too.
In an album of 28 songs, it's difficult for one song to stand out as different from the rest but 1979 somehow achieves it.
It's not too rocky, it doesn't go in for the fancy effects evident in other songs and the steady beat throughout (a combination of Jimmy Chamberlain's drumming and a drum machine) makes it a ridiculously catchy number that attracted plenty of deserved kudos at the time.
The video for the song is pretty cool too, and as Pumpkins aficionados will know, the music video for a later song 'Perfect' is a sequel featuring grown-up versions of the teenagers that appear below.