Saturday, March 4, 2017

134. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness

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My tweak shares the same idea as John Craig's,  the illustrator who  designed the original album cover art.  His work was  destined to be a square;  mine a
rectangle,  but I ensured that  all the elements  of his work are in mine.  The idea to  repeat the  image of  Saint Catherine  was to emphasize  the central
character at  center although  I would have  placed more of it and/or faded it  towards the sides.  But I liked the colors  so much and  I wanted to preserve
them. My most noticeable mistake might be that I didn't reduce the size of her/their left hand/s to match the other.  

Billy Corgan liked to be involved in the visual side of the  Smashing Pumpkins albums,  sending ideas and rough sketches to the artists via fax.  The original
plan for Mellon Collie’s cover was for a French photographer to take a shot of the band in Victorian garb on an appropriate set, but that plan was scrapped
at the last minute when the  photographer named  an outrageous price.  John Craig,  a commercial illustrator  and collage artist  who was already working
on the internal sleeve art, was offered a shot at creating some cheaper cover art.

The iconic image is a collage made of three sources: the background comes from a children’s encyclopedia;  the star from a whiskey ad; the woman’s torso
from Raphael’s painting ‘Saint Catherine Of Alexandria’; and her head from a completely different painting, Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s ‘The Souvenir’.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Raphael, c. 1507 from wikipedia

The Souvenir by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1787-1789 from wikimedia commons

The selection of the  collage elements was  something of a collaboration between Corgan and Craig,
who dug through his morgue in  search of imagery that  might suit the  musician’s vision.  Once they
settled on a few things, Craig got to work and assembled the woman on the star.

The image is deceptively simple,  as if the artist simply cut out a  picture of a woman and plopped it
on top of a star. In fact, the woman is composed of figures from two separate paintings manipulated
via photocopier  until their sizes  and shapes  fit together  perfectly.  The head  was sourced from an
18th  century  painting by  Jean-Baptiste  Greuze  entitled  “The Souvenir (Fidelity).”  Her  body was
borrowed from Raphael’s “St. Catherine of Alexandria.”

Both are stunning images on their own,  but together, they captured what Craig was after: “With the
Greuze,  there was something  very dreamy or ecstatic about  her expression that certainly wasn’t in
the Raphael painting.  And then [there’s]   the flow and color of the Raphael dress,  just the way it’s
rippling and almost traveling. I guess it’s those primary colors too.” Diffuser

This is the original album cover art design.

No. 76, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000

Cover art design by John Craig, art direction by Frank Olinsky.
Album produced by Alan Moulder, Billy Corgan & Flood. Virgin 1995.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was released on October 24, 1995.  The following week, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, an unusual
feat for a double-disc album that cost over US$20. The album was certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Christopher John Farley of Time  called the album  "the group's most ambitious  and accomplished work yet".  Farley wrote,  "One gets the feeling that the
band [...]  charged ahead on gut instincts; the sheer scope of the album (28 songs) didn't allow for second-guessing or contrivance."  Time selected Mellon
Collie and the Infinite Sadness as the best album of the year in its year-end "Best of 1995" list. Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A rating; reviewer
David  Browne  praised the group's  ambition  and wrote,  "Mellon  Collie  and the  Infinite Sadness  is more than  just the  work of a  tortured,  finicky pop
obsessive.  Corgan presents himself  as one of the last true believers:  someone for whom  spewing out this much music results  in some sort of high art for
the ages." IGN gave the album a score of 9.5 out of 10 and said,  "As the band's magnum opus it single-handedly changed the face of Alternative Rock. The
Music Box gave it all five stars and said, "Indeed, for all its melodramatic self-indulgence,  Mellon Collie is one of the best double albums of new material
to be released by anyone in a long time."

Rolling  Stone  gave the album three  out of  five stars.  Reviewer  Jim DeRogatis  praised the album as  "one of the rare  epic rock  releases  whose bulk is
justified in the grooves".  DeRogatis contended that while Mellon Collie "may even match  The Wall in its sonic accomplishments",  Corgan's lyrics lacked in
comparison.  Mojo reviewer Ben Edmunds also praised the music while  criticizing Corgan's lyrics.  In his Consumer Guide,  Robert Christgau picked out one
song from the album, "1979", as a "choice cut."

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness  earned The Smashing Pumpkins  nominations in seven categories  at the 1997 Grammy Awards,  the second-highest
number of nominations that year. wikipedia

(A) Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - Tonight, Tonight - Thirty-Three - In the Arms of Sleep - Take Me Down

(B) Jellybelly - Bodies - To Forgive - Here is No Why - Porcelina of the Vast Oceans

(C) Bullet with Butterfly Wings - Thru the Eyes of Ruby - Muzzle - Galapogos - Tales of a Scorched Earth

(D) 1979 - Beautiful - Cupid De Locke - By Starlight - We Only Come Out at Night

(E) Where Boys Fear to Tread - Zero - An Ode to No One - Love - X.Y.U.

(F) Stumbeline - Lily (My One and Only) - Tonight (Reprise) - Farewell and Goodnight - Infinite Sadness