Studio album by The Smashing Pumpkins
Released May 28, 1991 (1991-05-28)
Recorded December 1990 – March 1991 at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin
Genre Alternative rock, psychedelic rock
Length 45:45
Label Caroline (US), Hut (UK)
Producer Butch Vig, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins chronology
Siamese Dream
Singles from Gish
  1. "Siva"
    Released: August 1991 (1991-08)
  2. "Rhinoceros"
    Released: November 5, 1991 (1991-11-05)
  3. "I Am One"
    Released: August 1992 (1992-08)

Gish is the debut album by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, released in May 1991 through Caroline Records. Frontman Billy Corgan described Gish as a "very spiritual album".[1] Despite peaking at only number 195 on the Billboard 200 upon its release, Gish has been certified platinum (one million copies shipped) by the RIAA.



Gish was recorded from December 1990 to March 1991 in Butch Vig's Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin with a budget of $20,000.[2] Vig and Billy Corgan worked together as co-producers. The longer recording period and larger budget were unprecedented for Vig, who later remembered,

(Corgan) wanted to make everything sound amazing and see how far he could take it; really spend time on the production and the performances. For me that was a godsend because I was used to doing records for all the indie labels and we only had budgets for three or four days. Having that luxury to spend hours on a guitar tone or tuning the drums or working on harmonies and textural things . . . I was over the moon to think I had found a comrade-in-arms who wanted to push me, and who really wanted me to push him.[3]

The inclusion of a massive production style reminiscent of ELO and Queen was unusual for an independent band at the time.[3] Whereas many albums at the time used drum sampling and processing, Gish used unprocessed drum recordings, and an exacting, unique guitar sound.[4] Billy Corgan also performed nearly all of the guitar and bass parts on the record, which was confirmed by Vig in a later interview.[3]

The album's sessions, lasting 30 working days, were brisk by Pumpkins' standards, largely because of the group's inexperience.[3][5] The recording sessions put an intense strain on the band, with bassist D'arcy Wretzky later commenting that she did not know how the band survived it, and Corgan explaining he suffered a nervous breakdown.[5]

The album

Gish was recorded towards the end of Billy Corgan's psychedelic influence, while the band's New Wave roots had almost entirely evaporated. It introduced the alternative rock sound and heavy dynamic shifts that would characterize later Pumpkins work.

Regarding the album's thematic content, 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.[5]

"I Am One", "Rhinoceros", "Daydream", and "Bury Me" were previously recorded as demos by the band in 1989. All four songs were re-recorded for Gish.

The following songs were written and recorded for Gish but did not make the final cut:

  • "Blue" (released on Lull and Pisces Iscariot)
  • "Obscured" (released on Pisces Iscariot)
  • "Slunk" (released on Lull)
  • "Why Am I So Tired?" (released on Earphoria)
  • "Jesus Loves His Babies" (Never officially released, appears 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)


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..."[1] Later, Corgan jokingly asserted that the album was originally going to be called "Fish" but was changed to "Gish" to avoid comparisons to jam band Phish.[6]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Robert Christgau (1 star Honorable Mention[8]
NME 7/10 stars[9]
Q 4/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[11]

Gish spent one week on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 195;[12] however, the album reached number one on the College Music Journal chart, which tracks airplay and popularity on college radio stations.[13] It also had a six-week run on the New Zealand Albums Chart, peaking at number 40.[14] Despite an inauspicious start, the album sold 100,000 copies in less than a year, far exceeding the expectations of indie label Caroline Records, a subsidiary of Virgin Records.[15] The album was certified gold on March 14, 1994. Until the release of The Offspring album Smash in 1994, Gish was the highest-selling independently released album of all time. Gish would later be reissued under the Virgin label, and was certified platinum on February 5, 1999.[16]

Gish was met with largely enthusiastic reviews. On the month of its release, Chris Heim of the Chicago Tribune credited producer Butch Vig for helping the band achieve a "clearly defined" and "big, bold, punchy" sound for the album. Heim also indicated that the varied styles of the album would be a good addition to the alternative music culture of Chicago at the time—a culture that was sometimes perceived as inaccessible for new bands.[17] Jon Pareles of The New York Times picked up on the eclectic mix of musical style on Gish as well, complementing its "pummeling hard rock", "gentle interludes", and "psychedelic crescendos".[18] In an end-of-year recap of 1991 releases, Heim noted that the album constituted a "smashing local success story" for the Chicago area.[19] Greg Kot, also of the Tribune, called Gish "perhaps the most audacious and accomplished" of all 1991 albums released by local bands;[2] in an article later that year, Kot listed the album among the best of 1991.[20] Rolling Stone called it "awe-inspiring" with "meticulously calculated chaos" and a "swirling energy".[21]

Many substantive reviews of Gish emerged only with the 1993 release of Siamese Dream, when mainstream critics took their first look into the back-catalog of a band whose popularity was exploding. Derek Weiler of the Toronto Star noted that songs on Gish contained "either galloping riffs or trippy feedback hazes" and that the latter were especially effective and entertaining.[22]

In 1992, Gish and The Smashing Pumpkins earned recognition at the Chicago Musician Awards, for which local music publication Illinois Entertainer polled readers and Chicago music industry figures such as critics, writers, and club owners. In separate polls, readers and industry figures chose Gish as the "best local album". Jimmy Chamberlin and James Iha won individual honors for their performances on the album, and the band as a whole earned the "best hometown national act" award.[23]

Release history

The first mastering of Gish on CD was from Digital Audio Tape and appeared on Caroline Records, a subsidiary of Virgin Records. In 1994, after the success of follow-up Siamese Dream, the album was given a slight remaster and redesign and was reissued on the Virgin label.[24] Both editions credit Howie Weinberg as mastering engineer. In 2008, The Smashing Pumpkins announced a 17th anniversary box set re-release of the album that would have included older bonus material, but the set never materialized.[25] After finally negotiating the rights, Corgan announced that the album is to be re-released in the fourth quarter of 2011 remastered on CD and Vinyl with extra tracks.[26]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Billy Corgan, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I Am One"   Corgan, James Iha 4:07
2. "Siva"     4:20
3. "Rhinoceros"     6:32
4. "Bury Me"     4:48
5. "Crush"     3:35
6. "Suffer"     5:11
7. "Snail"     5:11
8. "Tristessa"     3:33
9. "Window Paine"     5:51
10. "Daydream"     3:08
  • Track 10 contains a hidden track, "I'm Going Crazy" at 2:08


Those involved in the making of Gish are:[28]

The Smashing Pumpkins
Additional musicians
  • Mary Gaines – cello on "Daydream"
  • Chris Wagner – violin and viola on "Daydream"

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1991 Billboard 200 195[12]
1991 New Zealand Albums Chart 40[14]
Year Single Chart Position
1991 "Rhinoceros" Alternative Songs 27[29]


  1. ^ a b Caro, Mark (December 28, 1990). "Smashing Pumpkins Finds a New Home at Caroline Records". Chicago Tribune.
  2. ^ a b Kot, Greg (June 21, 1991). "Out of the Patch for Smashing Pumpkins". Chicago Tribune.
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas, Richard. "Signal to Noise: The Sonic Diary of the Smashing Pumpkins". EQ Magazine. October 2008.
  4. ^ Jones, Nick (January 9, 1992). "Fuck Off... We're From Chicago!". Spiral Scratch.
  5. ^ a b c MTV Rockumentary: Smashing Pumpkins. Aired 1995/10/17.
  6. ^ Corgan, Billy. Caller Q&A. Rockline Radio Show. Broadcast 1998/07/13
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Gish – Smashing Pumpkins". Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  8. ^ "CG: Smashing Pumpkins". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-09-09. 
  9. ^ "Gish – Smashing Pumpkins". NMA: 34. May 28, 1994. 
  10. ^ "150 albums reviewed and rated". Q: 129. August 1994. 
  11. ^ Rolling Stone Album Guide, 2004
  12. ^ a b "Discography - Smashing Pumpkins - Gish". Billboard. Retrieved 2011-01-20. 
  13. ^ Corcoran, Michael (September 15, 1991). "Bob Seger bites the Silver Bullet for his latest effort". Chicago Sun-Times: p. 4. 
  14. ^ a b "The Smashing Pumpkins – Gish". Ultratop. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  15. ^ Gooch, Marshall (April 7, 2008). "Smashing Pumpkins: Worst Case Scenario." Reflex.
  16. ^ "Gold and Platinum Database Search". RIAA. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  17. ^ Heim, Chris (May 31, 1991). "Caroline Records releases Smashing Pumpkins' 'Gish'". Chicago Tribune: p. S. 
  18. ^ Pareles, Jon (November 14, 1991). "Review/Pop; A hyperactive evening with the Chili Peppers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  19. ^ Heim, Chris (December 27, 1991). "Ringing in the new year with something for every taste". Chicago Tribune: p. Q. 
  20. ^ Kot, Greg (December 1, 1991). "The best albums of '91 rock music: finding greatness on the fringes". Chicago Tribune: p. 16. 
  21. ^ "Meticulously Calculated Chaos". Rolling Stone. August 8, 1991.
  22. ^ Weiler, Derek (August 26, 1993). "Smashing followup: Siamese Dream keeps Pumpkins in front of the alternative brigade". Toronto Star: p. C8. 
  23. ^ Stevens, Mary (July 24, 1992). "Smashing Pumpkins triumph in Chicago Musician Awards". Chicago Tribune: p. K. 
  24. ^ Corgan, Billy (March 1997). "10 Most Influential Productions". Musician Magazine. 
  25. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins ready debut album box set". New Musical Express. 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  26. ^ "Billy Corgan talks about the future of the Smashing Pumpkins". 
  27. ^
  28. ^ (1991) Album notes for Gish by The Smashing Pumpkins [LP liner notes]. New York: Caroline Records.
  29. ^ "Rhinoceros – Smashing Pumpkins". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 

External links

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  • Gish — Álbum de estudio de The Smashing Pumpkins Publicación 28 de mayo de 1991 Grabación Diciembre de 1990 Marzo de 1991 en Smart Studios, en Madison …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gish — /gish/, n. Dorothy, 1898 1968, and her sister Lillian, 1896 1993, U.S. film actresses. * * * …   Universalium

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  • gish — big·gish; bull·dog·gish; dog·gish; frog·gish; hag·gish; hog·gish; jig·gish; log·gish; pig·gish; prig·gish; prig·gish·ly; prig·gish·ness; pug·gish; rig·gish; slug·gish; slug·gish·ly; slug·gish·ness; snug·gish; son·gish; ta·gish; wag·gish;… …   English syllables

  • Gish — Pour Gish, l album des Smashing Pumpkins, voir Gish (album). Gish Éditeur Chronic Logic Stardock Valve Corporation Développeur Cryptic Sea Concepteur …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gish — noun United States film actress who appeared in films by D. W. Griffith (1896 1993) • Syn: ↑Lillian Gish • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actress * * * /gish/, n. Dorothy, 1898 1968, and her sister Lillian, 1896 1993, U.S. film actresses. * * * [gish]… …   Useful english dictionary

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