Gish is the debut album by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. Released in 1991, Billy Corgan described Gish as a "very spiritual album." Despite peaking at only number 195 on the Billboard 200 upon its release, Gish is currently certified platinum. As of May 2005, its US sales stand at 1.1 million.
was recorded from December 1990 to March 1991 in Butch Vig
's Smart Studios
. Whereas many albums at the time used drum sampling and processing, Gish
used unprocessed drum recordings, and an exacting, unique guitar sound. The album was recorded quickly by Pumpkins' standards, largely because of the group's inexperience. The recording sessions put an intense strain on the band, with D'arcy later commenting that she didn't know how the band survived it, and Corgan later saying he suffered a nervous breakdown
. The recording cost $20,000. James Iha
bought his first Gibson Les Paul
guitar for the recording of Gish
. He used these model guitars almost exclusively until 1998's Adore
The first mastering of Gish on CD was from Digital Audio Tape and appeared on Caroline Records. In 1994, after the success of follow-up Siamese Dream, the album was given a slight remaster and redesign and was reissued on Virgin Records. Both editions credit Howie Weinberg as mastering engineer.
was recorded towards the end of Billy Corgan's psychedelic
influence, while the band's post-punk
roots had almost entirely evaporated. It introduced the hard rock
sound and heavy dynamic shifts that would characterize later Pumpkins work. The inclusion of a massive production style reminiscent of ELO
was unusual for an indie band at the time.
"I Am One", "Rhinoceros", and "Bury Me" were previously recorded as demos by the band in early 1989. All three songs were re-recorded for Gish. "Daydream" was also recorded during the same sessions. Unlike the other three, the band used the actual demo recording of the song from 1989.
Corgan would later say,
The album is about pain and spiritual ascension. People ask if it's a political album. It's not a political album, it's a personal album. In a weird kind of way, Gish is almost like an instrumental album - it just happens to have singing on it, but the music overpowers the band in a lot of places. I was trying to say a lot of things I couldn't really say in kind of intangible, unspeakable ways, so I was capable of doing that with the music, but I don't think I was capable of doing it with words.
The album was named after silent film icon Lillian Gish
. In an interview, Corgan said, "My grandmother used to tell me that one of the biggest things that ever happened was when Lillian Gish rode through town on a train, my grandmother lived in the middle of nowhere, so that was a big deal..." Later, Corgan asserted that the album was originally going to be called "Fish" but was changed to "Gish" to avoid comparisons to jam band Phish
was met with largely enthusiastic reviews. Greg Kot
of the Chicago Tribune
"perhaps the most audacious and accomplished" of all 1991 albums released by local bands. Rolling Stone
called it "awe-inspiring" with "meticulously calculated chaos" and a "swirling energy. Despite an inauspicious start, the album sold 100,000 copies in less than a year, far exceeding the expectations of indie label Caroline Records. After being reissued on the band's new label Virgin, the album went on to achieve platinum status.
Until The Offspring released Smash in 1994, Gish was the US' best-selling album on an independent label.
All songs written by Billy Corgan
, except where noted.
- "I Am One" (Corgan, James Iha) – 4:07
- "Siva" – 4:20
- "Rhinoceros" – 6:32
- "Bury Me" – 4:48
- "Crush" – 3:35
- "Suffer" – 5:11
- "Snail" – 5:11
- "Tristessa" – 3:33
- "Window Paine" – 5:51
- "Daydream" / "I'm Going Crazy" (hidden track) – 3.08
The following songs are those that were written and recorded for Gish
but did not make the final cut. All but two of the tracks were released on future recordings.
- "Blue" (released on the Lull EP and Pisces Iscariot)
- "Obscured" (released on Pisces Iscariot)
- "Slunk" (released on the Lull EP)
- "Why Am I So Tired?" (released on Earphoria)
- "Jesus Loves His Babies" (Never officially released, does appear on Mashed Potatoes bootleg, a five disc set assembled by Billy Corgan and given to band and staff as a gift for Christmas 1994)
- "La Dolly Vita" (originally the B-side to "Tristessa", re-released on Pisces Iscariot)