Skip to main content

Review of the Album "Gish" by Alternative Rock Band the Smashing Pumpkins

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The Significance of the Album "Gish"

Chicago area band The Smashing Pumpkins released their debut album called Gish in 1991. The album is described as being a very spiritual kind of album. It is optimistic to believe that we can grow spiritually by the power of music. Although Gish is over 30 years old, a review is deserved because of the album’s spiritual lyrical themes, the guitar work and the musical variety which was rare for alternative rock albums back in this period. Gish was released in the same year as Nirvana’s Nevermind and this review is not meant to compare that album to this one but to show that even 30 years later, Gish is still worth listening to. Just briefly checking out this album again is more than just nostalgia. I feel myself thinking that I may like this album more than Siamese Dream.

For instance, in the song “Bury Me” we have a weird noise followed by the bass line which is clearly audible followed by a weird sound that is not amplifier feedback but a weird noise and I think it is coming from the guitar.

What Is Also Significant About the Album "Gish?"

Another significance of the album Gish is that it is a very personal kind of album. This feel is evident in songs such as “Crush” Love can sometimes be very hard to describe and Billy Corgan says that love comes in different colors in the song itself.

About The Songs "I Am One" and "Siva"

The first song called "I Am One" is a sort of call for someone to turn to a guiding light when their lives are in total disarray. That same lyrical theme continues in the second song called "Siva." Sometimes deep within our hearts our souls are torn apart and we are looking for a way to heal our souls that have been badly hurt. However, "I Am One" has a good interlude in it which is one redeeming quality about the song. The start of the song is that it builds up gradually.

"Bury Me"

Scroll to Continue


Who Plays on "Gish" and Why Should We Give it Credit?

This band is famous for guitarist and vocalist Billy Corgan. Jimmy Chamberlain plays the drums while James Iha, a second-generation Japanese American plays guitar as well. The bass guitars for this album and up until 1999 are handled by D’arcy Wretzky. The song "Bury Me" has a heavy emphasis on bass lines that are pretty loud for these guys. The song also has a weird, shrieking kind of sound like an amplifier that has feedback in it. Credit must be given to this album for having so many different kinds of musical experimentation and the soft contrast that we hear in Gish.

Vote for your favorite Song in Gish


Analysis of the Songs "Crush" and "Suffer"

"Crush" is a song that has this sort of atmospheric feel to it and it has this slow kind of guitar playing. The song addresses love, a subject that has been covered in so many books, magazines, and songs. Sometimes, all that matters is love. Billy Corgan has got this concept correct. It can be very hard to love certain people though. Love others as much as you can because love is one of the most powerful feelings in the world and it can also be a major way to transform our lives. Corgan had written this song for his then future wife. The next song called "Suffer" continues in the tradition or style of atmospheric, doom style alternative rock. When we have suffered so much as a result of our actions and mistakes, we must rise up from our darkest moments and become a sort of agent for change. Suffer is more than likely the best/strongest song in Gish and I find myself listening to this song quite a bit even in 2021. The first line of the lyrics is the most memorable to me.

"Window Paine, Daydream/I'm Going Crazy"

The weakest song in Gish is the one called I Am One. The next song "Window Paine" (yes that is the way the song’s title is spelled), is a song about doing what you want to do today and right now and to not wait until tomorrow to do and say what you wanted to say. The song is really slow with D’arcy’s bass lines contributing again. Speaking of D’arcy, she does the lead vocals for the first of two double songs called Daydream. The second part of this song is called "I’m Going Crazy." Both songs are about doing what we can to find love yet we are driven crazy to the point where there is insanity in our minds as we become worn out and frustrated chasing what seems to elude us.


"Gish" May Be Better Than "Siamese Dream"

Or is it better than Siamese Dream? Prior to about 2020 it would have been hard for me to rank Gish above that one but now, we have to really give Gish the credit that it deserves because it is a musically varied album that can really touch your spirits in a positive and even relaxing kind of way.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian

Related Articles