Today I want to tell a story about The Smashing Pumpkins and their impact and influence on my early music years. For this, I’ll be taking a trip back to 1995 and the release of the follow of to their phenomenal LP Siamese Dream. Yep, I’m talking about Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
But first, we only need to go back about two weeks while I was sitting in for my latest pair of tattoos.
A Renewed Interest in Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The tattoo shop had on Smashing Pumpkins radio, and it immediately sent me back nearly 30 years. I remember talking to Nick, my tattoo artist, and saying, “Man, I remember when Mellon Collie came out. That’s like one of my vinyl gold mines. I’d love to add that album to my collection! I don’t care if it’s like a reissue or repress or whatever. I just want it in my collection.”
The Smashing Pumpkins hold a special place in my journey.
A Passion For Discovering New Music
Siamese Dream was the album that introduced me to modern music. It was the one that got me excited about following my own path in music because all I had ever listened to was the oldies station my parents always had on in the car and the two decent records that they had, which were original pressings of Abbey Road by The Beatles and Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. Maybe it was three. I’ll throw in Little Deuce Coupe by The Beach Boys as well.
All three are now in my collection.
So if Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins was the band that got me into modern music, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was the album that got me into discovering new music.
I had already started really liking the stuff by the Smashing Pumpkins given how heavily Siamese Dream was in rotation for me around that time. I then took that to the next level when they announced their new album.
“Oh my god, this is amazing! New stuff from this band that I really like!”
Publicity & Hype Around Mellon Collie
The local alternative radio station did this big launch around the album and they really hyped it up. But it wasn’t just the local alt rock station where I lived, it was stations all across the country.
So the Smashing Pumpkins’ publicist must have gone to all these stations and pitched the idea of live streaming a concert where Smashing Pumpkins performed several tracks (if not all of them) off the new double LP.
Remember, this is a time WAY before streaming on the internet was a thing. It was the mid 90s; everyone was still on dial up. File sharing wasn’t a thing. Music videos were for MTV or VH1. It was 1995 and Napster wouldn’t make an appearance until 1999, and YouTube until 2005.
So most people hadn’t heard any of the songs. But a lot of people knew about the band. I mean, I’m sure we were all rocking out to “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” at that point as the early single. Maybe we had a second or a third track as well, but to hear them live streamed along with the rest of the album on the day or the even before the album’s release was incredibly exciting for my young 15-year-old self.
On of the stations chosen to stream the show was the alt rock station out of Portland, 94.7 NRK, which was exciting because that was where I could listen in the outer burbs of Vancouver, WA.
I recall pulling out a couple of blank cassette tapes and popping one in my player.
At the time, I had one of those cassette player alarm clock radios. You know, the little flat ones that go on a bedside table. I remember waiting anxiously for the show to start–I got everything set up and made sure I was early so I wouldn’t miss the start.
Here’s the story, recounted by me with passionate hand gestures and the like:
Within the first few songs, there was a major power outage in Chicago or at Chicago’s Riviera Theater, where the launch party performance was held that night. This is a fact not mentioned on the Wikipedia page for the album.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was released on October 24, 1995. The night before, the band played a release party show at the Riviera Theater in Chicago and took part in a live FM broadcast across the United States. The following week, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, an unusual feat for a double-disc album that cost over US$20.Wikipedia Page on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
I got the entire disruption on cassette.
Sadly, I don’t think I have the cassettes anymore. There’s a slight chance my parents have them buried somewhere, but in my mind they are essentially gone.
Finding My Copy of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Sitting for that tattoo the Sunday after Black Friday took me back near 30 years to that moment, listening to the live performance of tracks off Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness during Smashing Pumpkins’ live show.
When I got home, I immediately looked it up on Discogs to see if there were any reasonably priced copies out there. To my surprise, there were.
I’m not going to go into all the details, as you can check them out in the video posted above. But in my video below, I unbox the unofficial bootleg copy pressed in 2022 on Red Translucent wax with Smoke.
So there you have it. I now have another one of the pivotal, formative albums from my youth in my collection: The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
I’m planning to do a countdown or list in the near future of other top albums that influenced my music listening in the the mid to late 90s, essentially my high school years, so don’t forget to head over to my YouTube Channel and Subscribe.