Mellon Collie Without the Infinite Boredom
What would happen if you cut down on the size of Mellon Collie? How great of an album could you create if it had been just one disc instead of two?
Andrew and I did a thing. We painstakingly pored over one of the most iconic albums of our lifetime - The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - and created what we think is an even better version of the album. We followed a set of rules and tried to stick by a code. Some of the things we cut, we still love as much as we love some of the numerous tracks in the b-side catalog of one of the most prolific periods of the Pumpkins’ career. In the end, we made trades. We suffered over the order. I think we arrived at the version of the album that I’ll listen to for the rest of my life (or as long as the Spotify playlist still exists.)
This whole project is one of love and appreciation. I know the title of this post and playlist could be viewed as mean or hateful, but it’s tongue in cheek. I love the Smashing Pumpkins and have since I was a kid. So, anyone who's reading this, we’re not trashing the Pumpkins or this record. It’s a fan cut made because we’re gigantic fans, arguably with too much time on our hands.
So does Andrew and maybe even more so. I couldn’t have done this by myself very easily. First of all, it was Andrew’s idea. Andrew did most of the heavy lifting. He did the entire first draft. I came in and poked and prodded and helped us arrive at the final tracklist and order, but I’m standing on the back of a giant who is more thoughtful and capable than I am of a project like this. Anyway, love love love for the Pumpkins. Next!
The new “album” had to fit on an 80-minute CD as if we were back in 1990s with those technical limitations.
Andrew has been listening to the vinyl edition of Mellon Collie and the track order is different. That track order was a guiding light. The even more bloated track list of that record is shown below.
Not a rule per se, but Andrew and I paid special attention to conceptually having a perfect “end to side 1” as if this were also capable of being on a cassette tape.
Without further ado, here is the tracklist.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Here is No Why
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
Where Boys Fear to Tread
Tales of a Scorched Earth
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
An Ode to No One
Thru the Eyes of Ruby
Now for some discussion.
Stumbleine Hidden Track?
So, let’s talk about “Stumbleine.” The original draft of this project had this song added via the hidden track trick. That song doesn’t totally fit in with the record. It doesn’t have a good spot in the entire playlist. It doesn’t really sound like anything else we kept. This was the conversation on Discord.
Craig: If it were my disc, I’d go old school and do 5 minutes of silence at the end of “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” and have it “hidden” at the end of the record.
Craig: Yeah. I’m that guy.
Andrew: It would legit be AWESOME there
Craig: Right? You are basking in the glow of the record and just all of a sudden it comes on as a bonus?
Ultimately after a good night’s sleep, Andrew figured out that by thinking of it as side 1 and side 2, “Stumbleine” works at the beginning of side 2. Still, as an old man who grew up with that hidden track life on Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple and Tool’s Undertow, it was really tempting to do it that way.
X.Y.U. vs. Tales of a Scorched Earth
The toughest cuts were really hard. In the first draft, Andrew included “X.Y.U.” which is a raucous, heavy song. It’s not my favorite. Sometimes when Billy Corgan and the crew go long, it’s in service of something. Sometimes I feel like it’s just an ego trip. That said, Andrew kind of knew that I might fight some of the screechier, heavy songs, but “Tales of a Scorched Earth” was also cut in Andrew’s first draft. That was a tough cut for both of us, so it made sense to swap them. We kept “Scorched Earth” and dropped “X.Y.U.” “Scorched Earth” is also under four minutes, so we saved time to make other changes.
When it came time to slot “Scorched Earth” into the list, Andrew nailed it. The end of “Where Boys Fear to Tread” is a perfect lead-in for “Scorched Earth.” Maybe even more perfectly, the way it ends and then out of nowhere Billy sings, “The world is a vampire…” is perfect.
Really Tough Cuts
There were some songs that we love but that we cut because we wanted to make the hard choices that the Pumpkins conceivably couldn’t back in the day. Also, as gigantic Pumpkins fans, we’re not afraid of having awesome b-sides on the singles. Especially in those days, I was a completist type of collector. I had the Pumpkins box set The Aeroplane Flies High, etc. and so did Andrew. “Cutting” a song doesn’t mean that much to us for that reason.
“Love” is a good song. It isn’t the most exciting chorus of the band’s career, but it’s a solid song.
I personally love “Galapogos.” It’s not one I would ever skip. It’s one of the dreamier pop songs on the record even if it is a bit slower. It’s a nice song.
Similar to “Galapogos,” “In the Arms of Sleep” is a solid tune. With those two as anchors, you’ve already got the makings of an excellent EP and those two songs do fit together pretty well. Maybe Andrew and I will build the EP of leftovers for them sometime. Beautiful would fit in, but I wouldn’t call this as difficult a cut as the previous two.
Sorry, not sorry. “Take Me Down” was easy to remove. “Cupid De Locke” was also dead simple to lose. “Beautiful” was easy, but not as easy as the other two. “Lily” was easy to remove for us both. One song stands out as the easiest to cut out of all the songs we cut on the album…
It is similar to “Lily,” but it’s more annoying… Sorry, Billy.
“We Only Come Out At Night” has been an automatic skip for me for my entire life listening to this album.
The Perfect Ending
In the end, it was easy to cut “Farewell and Goodnight” too, simply because Andrew and I are both from the school of ending albums with perfect songs. We both quickly agreed that the perfect album closer for the better, more efficient Mellon Collie was “Thru the Eyes of Ruby.” The guitar leads are epic and anthemic. According to the fan sites, the Pumpkins might have used as many as 70 guitar tracks to help create that huge sound on the record. It’s some of the best singing on the record for my money.
The ending refrain has the band rocking out as Billy Corgan sings over and over,
“The night has come to hold us young!”
The song fades into an acoustic alternate version that recalls the opener “Mellon Collie” ever so briefly.
And we’re out.