on October 6, 2004
Gish is one of those rare, amazing debuts from a band. One of a few landmark grunge albums to be released in 1991, this one has the least coverage. Released a month before Nirvana's Nevermind, this is the last grunge album to be released when grunge was still an underground phenomenon. And what a great disc to end the period with.
Musically, this is where the roots of everything SP would cover lie. From hard rocking "Siva", to dreamy acoustic guitars (the underated "Crush"). And the melodic mid-tempo numbers "Snail". Though all the songs are of very good quality, these three are the standouts, along with (of course) "Rhinoceros". Also good is the psychedelic "Window Paine" and the nice ender "Daydream" sung by D'Arcy.
Lyrically, Corgan is taking his babysteps here. Though some of Corgan's catchiest lyrics are found on here. Please don't tell me that after listening to Rhinoceros, you haven't found yourself singing "and she knows, she knows, she knows." to yourself!
This album is not Smashing Pumpkins' best, but it is an amazing debut without a doubt. This is for sure one of the best grunge albums of the time. It might take some time to get into this album, but once you get hooked on one song, without a doubt you'll get hooked by the rest.
They're better known for the sprawling double-disc "Mellon Collie And the Infinite Sadness," but the Smashing Pumpkins first leaped onto the scene with "Gish." It's not as epic as some of their later material, but still a vibrant, musically-polished album, and one that has the flavor of experience on the first time around.
Kicking off with the undulating riffs of the excellent "I Am One," the Pumpkins slip effortlessly between multilayered hard rock (the mind-blowing "Siva," the magnificent bass-sputtering "Tristessa," the panoramic "Snail") and haunting ballads ("Rhinoceros," the vaguely psychedelic "Crush," the sweeping "Suffer") before wrapping up with the eerie "Daydream."
It's a rare band whose music can still be so relevant so long after it first came out -- let alone still being a voice for the disillusioned. Originally released in 1991, "Gish" definitely established the Smashing Pumpkins as a musical force of genuine artistry, talented songwriting and musical integrity. It's hard enough to find one of those, let alone three.
The grinding, kinetic guitars and bass in the harder songs form a wall of solid sound, except in "Siva" -- there, the sound keeps dying away to complete silence, before reviving with a swirling roar when you least expect it. At the same time, Corgan tones down the guitars to a gentle acoustic strum in the more balladic songs. Jimmy Chamberlin's lightning-fast drumming is an excellent accompaniment, as is D'Arcy's bass.
As a songwriter, few rockers can parallel Billy Corgan; his songwriting has the quality of poetry set to rock, which aren't things you generally see together. Corgan's high, reedy voice is interwoven well into the music, giving his poetic lyrics a certain heartfelt quality. And bassist D'Arcy gets to shine with her low, sweet voice in "Daydream."
"Gish" is recognizably the Pumpkins, at the roughest stage of their musical development -- but with edge, the musical force and the beauty that just needed refinement.
on May 7, 2004
Here is The Smashing Pumpkins' full-length debut album from 1991. The Pumpkins' sound here displays what we would come to expect from the gang: heavy, searing, multi-tracked guitars (a technique which often superficially gets compared to Jimmy Page and Brian May - of Led Zeppelin and Queen fame, respectively), melancholic, dreamy soundscapes and lyrics, contrasts from heavy sounds to soft sounds. However, these are the beginning stages of what would fully blossom on later efforts like 1993's _Siamese Dream_, and 1995's _Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness_. While the heavy tracks feature the ethereal wall-of-sound that the Pumpkins are known for, this heaviness is not as full, lush, and oceanic as it would become on aforementioned following discs, but you can hear where the band was headed.
However, when taken as it is -- an album showing the band in it's earliest stages -- _Gish_ is an excellent, highly enjoyable album. It is hardly a disappointing album -- far, far from it. The Pumpkins' amalgamation of heavy (but melodic and dreamy) rockers and dreamy, atmospheric, psychedelic-tinged mellow tracks appear here, giving ample proof that the Pumpkins didn't necessarily change their sound over the years, but rather refined it. "I Am One" and "Siva" open up the album on hard-driving notes. The former could be heard on alternative rock radio stations, even to this day. Do you think that because The Smashing Pumpkins made hard-rockers, they used nothing more than simple power chords? Well, both these tracks feature arpeggiated chords that are beyond simple.
The hard-driving rockers are interrupted for what are possibly the most ethereal, wispy, mood-inducing six minutes on the album: "Rhinoceros" is such a heavenly beauty, and is without a doubt, my favorite track on this album. Billy Corgan's acquired vocal stylings blend perfectly with the dreamy atmospheres brought on by the guitar arpeggios, textured arrangements, and the treatment of them all. Many complain about Billy's voice, but what other vocalist could complement the Pumpkins' music as perfectly as his? Nobody I can think of (except maybe one of the other Pumpkins.. ), but regardless, his voice was an ethereal instrument unto itself.
Elsewhere, "Crush" seems to foreshadow "Thirty-Three," as it's a dream-folk track (it's very hard to categorize in exact terms.) Billy's vocals are lovely here. "Snail" is a moody piece that seems to share a kinship with most adult contemporary music -- except this rocks harder, and the lyrics are probably a bit more inscrutable. The rocker "Tristessa" sounds like it could have been a dry run for "Cherub Rock." Listen to some of those whacked-out fills from drummer extraordinaire Jimmy Chamberlain. "Window Paine" is almost as mood-inducing as "Rhinoceros," and takes it's time by resting on one or two chords, which build up to an explosive, cathartic climax, and the ethereal, acoustic closer "Daydream" features bassist D'Arcy on lead vocals, followed by a brief coda from Billy.
An excellent album from an excellent band, of whom I miss dearly. Definitely worth owning, but if you're new to the Pumpkins, start with _Siamese Dream_ first.
on December 6, 2003
..this album shows it. "Gish" was released in 1991, and sadly, was eclipsed by the release of Nirvana's "Nevermind" knocking the Pumpkins back a bit. But that surely didn't stop the band, as they went on to relase such amazing works as "Siamese Dream" and "Mellon Collie" in later years. "Gish" is an power assault on the ears, nice crunchy guitars, with haunting vocals by Billy Corgan, and one track ("Daydream") featuring the bassist, D'Arcy on lead vocals. The band proved to be both experimental and unique, tying in hardcore rockers like "Siva" with the soft gently, trippy sound of songs like "Snail" and "Crush". Here, the Pumpkins perfect their loud-soft dynamic, especially on songs like "Rhinocerous" (great flanger effect on the guitar here) and of course "Daydream" which even features, yes, a cello! "I Am One" has the best drum intro, proving Jimmy Chamberlain a drum god, while "Siva" the first single, shows Billy and James' amazing chemistry and guitarwork. "Rhinocerous" is a slow rocker, that builds up in the middle, one of my all time favorites - was released as the second single for this album and was also featured on the E.P. "Lull" issued in 1992. "Bury Me" is just awesome, if not trippy at times.. and there are some really awesome guitar licks in this song right before the end where Billy sings "She will bury me". "Crush" is another favorite, which begins with a scale on the bass, a slow, trippy, beautiful song. "Suffer" another rocker with lines like "All that you suffer is all that you are" and "too late to recover piece of mind/too late to recover me" - the song takes a turn in the middle and just.. simply rocks, I can't even describe it, the song just emits an aura, a feeling. "Snail" and "Tristessa" are 2 of my favorite tracks. "Window Paine" is a slow song, that probably is my least favorite on the album- "window paine around my heart" Billy sings. Its just too slow for my tastes, but sort of reminds me of "Silverf***" on Siamese Dream in some ways, its just an odd sort of song. The closing track "Daydream" is a sad song lyrically, but musically sounds happy. "my daydream screams bitter til the end.../the love i shared true, selfish to the heart/my heart my sacred heart" - D'Arcy sings. D'Arcy adds a really nice touch to this song, the original demos had Billy on vocals. But, Billy still chimes in at the end of the song theres a small bit called "I'm Going Crazy" in which Billy sings "I'm going crazy/I don't want your feelings..". All in all an amazing debut from a band that would go on to create greater things. This album is a must get for any pumpkins fan, and its great to see how the pumpkins began. Musically, this album is a triumph and really shows the talent of the band.
on July 18, 2003
Gish was actually the last Pumpkins studio album I purchased. After becoming addicted to Siamese Dream. Of all the other Pumpkins albums (not including Picies Iscariot) Gish has the most in common with Siamese Dream, the faint sabbath/zepplin guiatars and the pyscadelic scales.
That aside they are two very different albums. Where Siamese Dream riffs and rages under the sun, Gish relaxes in the cool shade. Witness the weed soaked Rhinocerous and its mellow build up using the psycadelic guitars. Corgan don't quite have the anger he will acquire for his next few albums. Only on Shiva is there a glimpse of the rage that will come. The rawer sound to the is album gives it an earthy feel.
The beauty of this album is its innocence, its young and bored, but it a happy stoned kind of way. There is little evidence of "grunge" influencing this album. Its not depressing or angry or even punkish. What Gish really does is to show that Nirvana and the seattle bands were not alone, other kids across the world, sick of the hair metal bands were developing their own music.
Dreamy and hazy, almost neo-hippy ethos, Gish is the perfect start to the Pumpkins career. They would equall this album with Siamese Dream, but they would never top it again.
on June 17, 2003
the Smashing Pumpkins' 1991 debut, Gish, is one of the most underrated albums of the 90s alternative scene, overshaodwed by Nirvana's Nevermind, and Pearl Jam's Ten, released in the same year. A lot of the songs are heavy and spectacular, but the band often ventured into neo-psychedelic melodic sequences in their music early on in their career.
They venture into hard rock bombast on songs like Siva, I Am One, Bury Me and Tristessa, dramatic epics like Rhinocerous and Snail, psychedelic-pop like Crush and Daydream, and dark and gloomy jams like Suffer and Window Paine. Wow, I mentioned all 10 songs. All of the songs have beauty glistening off the polished production and the occasional darkness that looms over some of the songs. For a debut, Billy Corgan and his bandmates seemed like alternative veterans in the realm of Jane's Addiction, the Cure and My Bloody Valentine. Their sense of extraordinary musicality is evident throughout the entire album, and Gish is just as good as Mellon Collie and Siamese Dream.
Gish deserved to be a major hit. Gish is definitely one of the most confident sounding and musically exquisite debuts in rock music, and from listening to Gish, you can just tell that the Pumpkins were destined to become the huge band they were, and they deserved to be.
on May 5, 2003
If you are a rabid pumpkins fan, then yes, go ahead and buy this if you don't already have it; it is a good pumpkins album and important for any collection.
if you are a random music fan, or smashing pumpkin fan of non-rabid status, I would advise finding a way to preview some of the album first (through download or a friend's copy or whatever). While most of the songs are strong musically, they are more psychadelic than rock, with more of an 80's new wave than a 90's alternative rock.
The album's singles are strong and provacative, such as "I am one", and the slow burning ballad rocker "rhinocerous", and most of the other songs are at least decent, more than just filler.
I would recommend this album to those with an open mind who have heard other SP albums and are ready to explore more of the band, but if you are new to the band and prefer 90's alternative rock, I would strongly suggest their second album "Siamese dream" instead.
This is a good album, but perhaps one of the last I would buy from this band.
on February 24, 2003
I don't think any band's first album has ever been as good as the Pumpkin's debut. Already with many of the trademarks in place that would elevate them into rock valhalla with Siamese Dream, Corgan, Iha, D'Arcy, and Chamberlain create a wonderful mutation of garage rock and the burgeoning grunge scene. Corgan's vocals on this album are surprisingly gritty and caustic, as his psychedelia-tinged lyrics create the canvas on which ringing, sputtering guitars and thundering precussion leave their mark. The songs are inspired genius, one after another, and though borrowing from much of rocks past take enough left turns to keep the listener enthralled. "I Am One" leads off the record perfectly with apocalyptic bombast. "Siva" takes that one step further with perfect loud-soft dynamics that would become the Pumpkin's trademark. The lyrics convey a shadowy, understated sense of doom while sounding ephermeral at the same time, especially prevalent in "Rhinoceros," an almost otherworldly epic with perfectly timed melodies thorughout. Devotion, loss, and perseverance also surface, like in "Suffer" where the protagonist searches for an ambiguous sort of salvation while at the same time seeing its "too late to discover piece of mind, too late to recover." The overall message, however simple, is elegantly stated and perfectly complemented by the loud but tuneful music: Hope prevails above all. This is especially evident in the second to last song "Windowpane," which builds to a crescendo of guitar crunch as Corgan intones "Do what you've got to do/And say what you've got to say/Start today." The Pumpkins always had a sense of hope and perseverance at their core, and with their best music it was powerfully conveyed. Essential, along with Siamese Dream.
on October 30, 2002
A debut album says many things about a band. Many people view it as merely a first attempt, while this is true, it says much more on many other levels. It primarily states what you can expect from this band. As a result there generally is little variation, and the songs can often only hint at the greatness of the songwriters behind them.
This album is no exception.
From the moment you start the CD, it becomes startlingly obvious that this is going to be a musical experience like no other before it. The strange blend of Hard Rock, 60's era psychadellic rock and Punk that is 'I AM ONE' states with full confidence what this band set out to achieve - to change rock music forever.
This odd musical fusion continues throughout the album, which really adds to the raw essense that is poured into this record. Classic examples of this are 'SIVA', 'BURY ME' and 'TRISTESSA', which also make it easy to see why people flocked to see them live before they became a signed bend. Also, 'SIVA' displays the classic Corgan technique of going from loud to soft and back again in half a heartbeat, which later became a staple for songs on the album 'MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINATE SADNESS'.
The Pumpkins also explore their melodic side through tracks like 'RHINOCEROUS', 'SUFFER' and 'DAYDREAM', the latter of which being sung by Darcy (the bassist in the band).
This album really is a classic example of what a debut album should be - a statement about what a band wants to achieve and how it is going to set about doing it. While the pumpkins may not have changed music, they definately made it more interesting.
on October 8, 2002
despite the catchiness and emotion of the subsequent albums, this is easily the smashing pumpkins' best. this is not to say that this album does not have it, but unlike their later offerings, this one is not focused on that and thus loses the mass appeal for the sake of creating good and fluid rock.
one such example of this is thesuffer's central theme, an idea whose birth guaranteed the song die-hard fan status.
billy's vocals on this album are minimal for the most part, yielding to his guitar, more often than not (certainly the finer instrument of the two), but both marked with a distinct pumpkins sound. the nearly spacey and very liquid 'window paine' is a definite and welcome exception to this, however; the melodrama is lifted in an anticlimax embodied by corgan singing acappella, leading the song towards recapitulation in the form of a heavily retarded guitar phrase.
perhaps the weakest moment of the album (and, notably one of its singles) is the somewhat unimaginative 'tristessa.' while not exactly a disappointment, it is certainly not a highlight and is simply too long for the idea it presents. its theme seems to be an after thought on 'bury me,' another standout on this album not only for its guitar work, but sensible use of dynamics and tempo, the former being a lost art in modern rock.
in conclusion, this is a very strong album and a fine addition to any fan of the "marshall stack up" school of songwriting.