Gish was a sublimely spiritual body of work. "Not in a God way, but in a personal way," asserts singer/guitarist Billy Corgan.
"It's got a lot to do with me exorcising old demons, getting my act together, overcoming a lot of my shortcomings. It's an extremely personal record."
The son of a professional funk/jazz guitarist, weaned on the lessons of Bowie, Zeppelin, and The Stooges, Corgan began his musical career in the mid-80's, relocating from his native Chicago down to Florida with a group called The Marked. "Being in that band taught me everything I had gotten into music for was total garbage," he declares. "The whole sex, drugs, and rock and roll thing. It was shallow, everything the Pumpkins [sic] are not."
Corgan came to his senses and returned to the Windy City, forming Smashing Pumpkins in 1988. With bassist D'arcy, guitarist James, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, they embarked on an instant buzz-generating series of gigs that included the opening slots for acts like Jane's Addiction, The Buzzcocks, and Caterqaul. Producer Butch Vig (Garbage) helms the boards for Gish,resulting in the toughest,most traditonally "Rock" sounding album of SP's repatiore.
Billy Corgan (songwriter, guitar, vocals)
James Iha (guitar)
D'arcy Wretzky (bass)
Jimmy Chamberlin (drums)
1. I Am One - "I Am One" sets the tone for the rest of the album. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain lays down an impressive kinetic beat, Billy Corgan sings some grinding vocals, guitarist James Iha plays catchy melodies, and D'arcy surges forward her bass. Don't think that because The Smashing Pumpkins made hard-rockers, they used nothing more than simple power chords. As you can tell between this track and the next, "Siva," they both feature arpeggiated chords that are beyond simple. Brilliant track. 5/5
2. Siva - Now comes the neo-psychedelic jam "Siva." It is similar to "I Am One," but with a more effective riff. Here is what Billy said about Siva:
"I always knew I'd write a song called "Siva." Well, originally it was "Shiva" with an "h," and that's the god of destruction and sex but I then I read about it and I realized that that's not what I wanted the song song to be about at all. I didn't want the song to be identified with a specific god. It has more to do with, well, there's yin and yang and there's Siva a shakti(sp?). So it's the male aspect of Hinduism. That's not really what the song is about at all but it's hard to explain. " 5/5
3. Rhinoceros - This was one of the earliest Pumpkins songs to find it's way onto an album. "Rhinoceros" has sort of a psychedelic flavor to it. The song is pretty meh, until kickin' guitar solo comes into play. This song combines both mellow and rocking side of the pumpkins. It's the longest track on the album, at 6 minutes in length. 4.5/5
4. Bury Me - This is a extremely cathcy rocker, with a bassline that brings the song all together. It's sang by Billy and James; James is rather odd in this one though. :P Here is what Billy said about Bury Me:
"Bury Me is the type of song that I literally wrote the whole song and just brought it to the band and then it was just fine tuning. "5/5
5. Crush - "Crush" is a romantic tune with lyrics that are nominated as the best on the album. "And this feeling shivers down your spine, Love comes in colors I can't deny, All that matters is love, love, your love"
6. Suffer - "Suffer" includes lines like "All that you suffer is all that you are" and "too late to recover peace 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. Electro guru Tricky sampled the backbeat from "Suffer" on his sex-soaked album "Maxinquaye". 4/5
7. Snail - Corgan's favorite from the album is this one. Here is what Billy said about Snail:
"Um, probably the song the consistently stays with me is 'Snail'. Because its a song that like it wasn't, it didn't, it wasn't one of those songs when you play it you say, 'hey this is a really great song'. We had to work on it and work on it, and kept it in my mind, and kept thinking about it." With lines like "Flower chase the sunshine" it sounds cheesy, but I love it. Best song on the album. 5/5
8. Tristessa - "Tristessa" is spanish for sadness. But this song isn't very depressing, but rather upbeat. With a vast acoustic sound and verse that is so empowering it seems to be an anthem for which is the heart of all of the Smashing Pumpkins. 4/5
9. Window Paine - "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. A very dark and gloomy jam. 4/5
10. Daydream - Here we have psychedelic-pop song, sung by the lovely D'arcy. The song is a cover of Blondie's "Daydream." Even though it wasn't recorded using the best instruments, it's still interesting. That hidden track at the end of "Daydream" is weird. Billy sings "I'm going crazy." 3.5/5
"Gish" is short, but it helped Smashing Pumpkins put their foot in the door, and paved their way to being one of the most important alt-rock bands of the '90s.