April 24, 2024

New Fury Media

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This Day In Music History: May 28th, 1991 – Smashing Pumpkins release alternative rock classic, ‘Gish’

Emerging at a time where hair metal was on the way out and grunge, shoegaze, and alternative rock were experiencing massive growth, Smashing Pumpkins emerged in May of 1991 with their debut full-length, Gish. Armed with a strong set of songs that bridged the gap between alternative rock, indie charm, and grunge (along with many other influences), tracks like “Siva” and “Rhinoceros” could be both loud and quiet, melodic and riff-heavy.

Produced by Butch Vig (who, at the time, was a fairly unknown producer in the industry), as well as Billy Corgan, the album provided a springboard for Billy Corgan and company to emerge as one of alternative rock’s biggest bands. What’s particularly interesting about Butch Vig producing the record, is at the time, Vig hadn’t yet worked on the records he was famous for. His defining work on albums from Nirvana (Nevermind), Sonic Youth, and even AFI would come later (and in Nirvana’s case, later in 1991).

While not initially a huge success (though the album did sell 100,000 copies in its first year of release, exceeding expectations), Gish did provide an important stepping stone for the band’s sophomore album, Siamese Dream. Considering the success of Nirvana and grunge in general helped elevate bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Gish‘s diverse sound within the confines of alternative rock (and really, outside of them) would help them explode soon after the record’s release.

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