Article by: SPfreaks

Review by Jeff Becker from The Way That He Sings

Faster than the speed of sound. Faster than we thought we’d go.  Beneath the sound of hope.
Billy Corgan

From today onwards, SPfreaks will team up with Jeff Becker. Jeff is a very talented writer who works for The Way That He Sings, a non-profit website fully dedicated to the support of independent rock and pop. We will cooperate on a multi-level scale with Jeff; not only Smashing Pumpkins related articles from his hands will be partly or fully shared, also exclusive material about our favorite band might find its way to SPfreaks in future.

So far, The Way That He Sings has published the following articles about Smashing Pumpkins:

Please feel free to ‘Like’ them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheWayThatHeSings.

As a start, Jeff will present us his reviews of all four Smashing Pumpkins album reissues that we have seen so far. Each week one of them will be published on both The Way That He Sings, and on SPfreaks. And he hopes to suit the needs of those Pumpkins fans that have been hesitating so far in buying any of the deluxe reissues.

The overall release of Gish deluxe gets a 9/10.

CD1 – the original album

Gish Deluxe Review 01

Gish, the final product, is not only the precursor of two Pumpkins albums that followed – it probably exceeded even the expectations of Billy Corgan with the scope of its sound.   That’s because Corgan caught lightning in a bottle when he grouped up with Butch Vig and Jimmy Chamberlain.   The Bermuda Triangle of Vig’s keen ear for sonic perfection, matched with Chamberlain’s thumping heartbeat on the drums and Corgan’s growing mastery of both songwriting and guitar playing created the perfect storm.   While that storm came into full fruition on Siamese Dream, Gish created a storm of interest that helped propel the Pumpkins into the stratosphere over the next five years.  While Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie lifted the Pumpkins into the hearts of millions, Gish has remained a remarkable album, even though it was clearly outdone by its predecessors.

The psychedelia of Gish separated it from Pearl Jam’s Ten, Nirvana’s Nevermind and every other band that emerged in the early 90′s.   While grunge dominated the early part of the decade, many of the songs on Gish stepped outside of that stereotype .  Songs like ‘Snail’ and ‘Daydream’ provided the Pumpkins with an early signature, that separation from everything else released in this gigantic era of change in rock music.   Long gone were the glam hair bands of the 80′s, and now we had homeless-looking rockers from Seattle, Portland and Chicago tearing up the airwaves.  This remastered version highlights how much Gish has dug its heels into that point in time and that it holds up remarkably with a sound that is more timeless than something like Pearl Jam’s Ten.   Corgan and Vig had just scratched the surface of what they were capable of and Gish, despite not having any early commercial success, is not looked back upon with the credibility of anything else before 1995.

Gish Deluxe Review 02

CD2 – unreleased material

1      Starla (2011 mix) – Nice to have, spectacular quality but it’s hard to decipher it from the original.

2      Siva (Peel Session) – Nice to have and great quality mix from the Peel session.  Not dramatically different from original.

3      Honeyspider (Real Time Demo/2011 mix) – Must own and the 2011 mix brings it life even further.

4      Hippy Trippy (Crush Music Box demo) – Must own.

5      Snail (Live Radio performance) – Nice to have.   Decent quality live radio performance with a muddy mix.

6      Plume (2011 mix) – Nice to have.   Perfect quality alternate version that is similar to the original.

7      Bury Me (Real time demo/2011 mix) – Must own.  Perfect quality again on this powerful demo version.

8      Daydream (Old House Demo) – Must own.  Dramatically different version in pristine quality.

9      Tristessa (Sub Pop single/2011 mix) – Nice to have.  Once again, another alternate version in near-perfect quality.

10    Girl Named Sandoz (Peel Session) – Nice to have.  Similar arrangement and sound to the original.

11    Jesus is the Sun (Apartment demo) – Must own.  Great quality outtake.

12    Blue (Gish Session demo) – Must own.   Acoustic-driven version in perfect quality and a little free Billy chatter at the beginning.

13    Smiley (Gish Session demo) – Must own.  Pristine.

14    I Am One (Real Time demo/2011 mix) – Nice to have.  Great quality – very similar to the original.

15    Suffer (Apartment demo) – Must own.  Significantly different version in outstanding quality.

16    La Dolly vita (2011 mix) – Nice to have, but it’s either similar or the same as the version on Pisces Iscariot.

17    Pulseczar (Gish Session demo) – Must own.  Dark, haunting track and an ideal inclusion here.

18    Drown (Alternative guitar solo) – Must own.  Still a classic track.

DVD –  August 25, 1990 at the Metro, Chicago – live performance

1. I am one (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 2. Snail (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 3. Rhinoceros (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 4. Bury Me (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 5. Tristessa (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 6. Window Paine (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 7. Razor (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 8. Sookie Sookie (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 9. Godzilla (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD] 10. Crush – Acoustic (Live at The Metro, Chicago, IL 8/25/90) [DVD]

A full, hometown performance highlighting the Gish album shot at the Metro in Chicago back in 1990.   As with the DVD that accompanies the deluxe reissue of Siamese Dream, this is perhaps the definitive show from the Pumpkins’ Gish era.   The audio quality exceeds the video, largely due to the fact the show was shot in a swash of blue and red lights.   In addition, the source of the video doesn’t appear to be a first generation or master copy.  Nevertheless, to the upper 2% or 3% of Pumpkins fans, this DVD will warrant repeated viewings. For the other 97% it’s a one-time showing in most instances.

The performance itself shows the vigor at which the Pumpkins shows had evolved into such a powerful live setting.   Aside from the outstanding tracks, the band was a flourish of eye candy between D’arcy’s long blond locks, Iha’s odd uniqueness (does any other rock star really look like him?), the veins in Chamberlain’s biceps – and of course the exuberant Corgan hiding often behind the classic 1990 bushel of hair.   Clearly, their live show was one of huge underground hype in Chicago early on and their reputation for tearing up a club was just forming.  This show captures that well just as the Smashing Pumpkins firestorm was beginning to take shape.

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I know one person that decided to buy the Gish Deluxe Box based on this review. Well done, Mr Becker! 🙂


Great job Jeff 🙂 If I didn’t already own the reissue, or if I needed convincing (as opposed to blindly buying without question) than this would have made me buy it. I like the track by tack breakdown.

Jeffrey Becker

Thank you for the kind comments – I look forward to posting the 3 reviews for Siamese, Pisces and MCIS in the weeks ahead!