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Box set music reviews: The Smashing Pumpkins, Blur

More box sets released for rock 'n' roll holiday gift giving
BY GENE TRIPLETT Entertainment Editor Published: December 21, 2012


The Smashing Pumpkins ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' reissue (Virgin)

Billy Corgan's whining growl and the churning electric angst of The Smashing Pumpkins reached peak power on this 1995 double album, particularly on wall-of-grunge scorchers like “Jellybelly,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “Where Boys Fear to Tread.” But the then-28-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter ventured well beyond the bounds of previous Pumpkins albums, with shades of melancholy reflection permeating the title track, an instrumental prelude that weaves Corgan's crystalline piano and Mellotron with an orchestral string section.

From there, the band offers up a varied buffet of musical fare, from the symphonic pop of “Tonight, Tonight,” to the whimsical harps-and-strings romanticism of “Cupid de Locke” and childlike sentimentality of “Lily (My One and Only).” But most of the original 28 tunes rock harder and louder than anything the band had done before, driven by the melodic tidal wave of Corgan's and James Iha's guitars, and underscored by the tight rhythm section of bassist D'Arcy and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

The deluxe box reissue offers the original album remastered, plus 64 previously unreleased or alternate versions of songs from the era, a DVD with a live show and bonus performances, two books featuring track-by-track annotations by Corgan, photos, lyrics and liner notes by David Wild, plus re-imagined cover art, velvet-lined disc holder and decoupage kit for creating your own scenes from the Mellon Collie Universe.

Five CDs and one DVD in all. So much Pumpkin-y holiday goodness.

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