“That was the end of it on the album”: the band favourite that Billy Corgan pulled from Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie… at the last minute

Smashing Pumpkins live in 1995
(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Given it’s a double album made up of 28 songs, you might think that Smashing Pumpkins put everything they had in the locker onto their epic 1995 record Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. But as the 2012 deluxe reissue demonstrated, there was still a wealth of material in the vault in various states of completion. One such track made it all the way through the rehearsal and demo stage and was right there at the finishing line, until it was nixed by producer Flood. Titled Set The Ray To Jerry, it eventually saw the light of day as a B-side to 1979 and looking back on it in an interview with Guitar World in 1997, Corgan seemed to have made peace with its omission.

“It was another remnant of a distant Siamese Dream past,” Corgan said. “Set The Ray To Jerry was first written somewhere during the Gish tour. It’s always been a band favourite – and seemingly only the band’s, because no-one ever mentions it. A sweet, simple song featuring only bass, drums and some delayed James guitar. One night Flood and I put everything we had on a couple of tapes (about 40 songs) and just drove round Chicago until 3.30 in the morning deciding on what was on or off the album. When we listened to Set The Ray…, it really moved me but when I looked over the Flood he just shook his head no. That was the end of Set The Ray… on the album, because I trust Flood’s opinion so much.”

A minimalist atmospheric and mid-tempo rock song, it’s hard to imagine Set The Ray… fitting in with Mellon Collie’s sumptuous and dense dynamics, so perhaps Flood was right. That master ringleader Corgan kowtowed to his producer is a revealing insight into the trust he had in the Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode collaborator. In the liner notes to Mellon Collie’s reissue in 2012, Corgan said, “Flood’s great skill – beyond being incredibly sonically gifted – is that he seems to speak the language of the songwriter.”

Listen to the track below:

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.