The first two albums by Smashing Pumpkins have been remastered and reissued, each available in two forms: as a no-frills single disc or a multidisc mini-boxset. Gish was initially released in 1991 and Siamese Dream in 1993, qualifying them as “golden oldies” at this point. In fact, the dwindling audience for Smashing Pumpkins makes these reissues mainly nostalgia for 30-somethings. That’s not to say they aren’t still solid rock records, I’m just not sure how many new fans they’ll gain (which, of course, is beside the point of whether these are worthwhile reissues). The budget-priced single discs contain zero extra material, just a new (and very plain) booklet with an essay and track-by-track notes from Billy Corgan. The albums both sound fine, but unless you don’t already have them I don’t know that they’re worth an upgrade.
That said, even if you don’t already own the original CDs, I’d suggest springing for the deluxe versions. Gish comes with a second disc containing 18 demos and alternate mixes, 15 of them previously unreleased. Even better is the concert DVD featuring a show taped at Chicago’s Metro during August 1990. A handful of CD-booklet sized postcards are thrown in as well, just to sweeten the pot a little further.
Siamese Dream, the band’s multi-platinum breakthrough, might be the better purchase if you’re on a limited budget and can’t grab both. In addition to the remastered album, there is also a second CD with 18 alternate tracks. The DVD comes from another Metro show, this time taped in August of 1993. Obviously the set is expanded as they were drawing from two albums. Even more postcards are included, if that sort of thing rings your bell.
Purists may balk at the “reimagined” cover art, which has been altered from the original releases for both the single disc and multidisc configurations. But outside of that there is little to complain about. Casual fans might have preferred similar treatment for the Pumpkins’ 1995 mega-smash Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness over Gish, but maybe that reissue is on the horizon. But the buzzsaw guitar rock of “I Am One” and “Siva” still make for a great one-two punch to open Gish. “Rhinoceros” still ranks among the prettiest, most evocative pieces they recorded. If you were a fan of the so-called alternative rock scene of the early to mid-'90s, you’re likely to be pleased when revisiting these albums.