A1 I Am One
A4 Bury Me
B4 Window Paine
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".
Despite initially peaking at only number 195 on the Billboard 200 upon its release, Gish received positive reviews from critics, and was eventually 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. 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.
The inclusion of a massive production style reminiscent of ELO and Queen was unusual for an independent band at the time. Whereas many albums at the time used drum sampling and processing, Gish used unprocessed drum recordings, and an exacting, unique guitar sound. Billy Corgan also performed nearly all of the guitar and bass parts on the record, which was confirmed by Vig in a later interview.
The album's sessions, lasting 30 working days, were brisk by Pumpkins' standards, largely because of the group's inexperience. 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.
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. 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". In an end-of-year recap of 1991 releases, Heim noted that the album constituted a "smashing local success story" for the Chicago area. Greg Kot, also of the Tribune, called Gish "perhaps the most audacious and accomplished" of all 1991 albums released by local bands; in an article later that year, Kot listed the album among the best of 1991. Rolling Stone called it "awe-inspiring" with "meticulously calculated chaos" and a "swirling energy".