Upon the release of Gish
--the group's debut--in the summer of 1991, more than one rock aficionado hailed the Smashing Pumpkins as the best band to come out of Chicago since Ministry. A bold statement, yes, but one backed up by Billy Corgan's Hendrix-like riffs and searing signature guitar tone. Intriguing songwriting is evidenced from the start as well, with the driving, amped-up rock of "I Am One", "Siva", and "Tristessa" contrasted with the soothingly eerie psychedelic flavour of "Rhinoceros" and "Window Paine". Gish
predates the band's movement towards the loop-based electronic sounds heard in their late-1990s works, yet the seeds for this transition are definitely apparent. Electro guru Tricky even sampled the backbeat from "Suffer" in the tributary "Pumpkin" on his sex-soaked Maxinquaye
. Butch Vig (Garbage) shows off his chops as producer and cultivates signature dramatic moods on Gish
, which helped put the Smashing Pumpkins on the map as one of the most important alt-rock bands of the '90s--much to the delight of the decade's disenfranchised youth. --Brad Zinser
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