Regardless of Billy Corgan’s actions in resurrecting The Smashing Pumpkins over the past few years, he’s thankfully been more dignified in handling the band’s back catalog, which is now in the reissue-and-remaster phase.
The Pumpkins’ debut,Â Gish, was, at the time, a sort of mid-way point between the band’s start as drum machine-driven goth wave and the dreamy alternative rock for which they’d become known. This is a more hard rock album than their later efforts, and when it rocks, it sizzles. â€œI Am Oneâ€ and â€œSivaâ€ are some of the best examples of Corgan’s searing guitar work on the record, the latter also expertly showcasing what was already a knack for super loud-to-whisper quiet dynamics.
The band’s dark side tinges the album with a hazy psychedelia, such as on “Rhinoceros,” the trippy â€œSuffer,â€ and â€œDaydreamâ€ (with lead vocals by bassist D’arcy), not to mention the odd hidden track â€œI’m Going Crazy.â€
The remastering job is also nicely done, preserving dynamics while adding a bit more punch, clarity and heft.
The bonus disc features a wealth of rarities and alternate takes. There are live, acoustic, and demo versions of album and non-album tracks, some of which are quite worthwhile, like the echoey demos of â€œCrushâ€ and a Corgan-sung â€œDaydream.â€ You also get a new mix of the band’s dream-rock epic â€œStarlaâ€ and a version of â€œDrownâ€ with an alternate feedback solo.
The deluxe edition is packed in a shiny box with beautifully re-designed artwork, photos, a booklet with track-by-track commentary by Corgan, and a bonus DVD of a full 1990 performance in a Chicago club (as well as a home video of the band performing â€œCrushâ€ in the living room), which so perfectly completes the picture of Gish from an archival standpoint, Corgan’s funny clothes and long hair included.
The band had such blistering live shows, and while the early gig shows them still in development, it’s an interesting peek at the way things were and gives hints of where it was all going.