The Smashing Pumpkins

I Am One

Composed by Billy Corgan / James Iha

Song Review by

Both the band's first single and, re-recorded, the lead track on its debut album Gish, "I Am One" for many is how they initially encountered the Smashing Pumpkins. It makes for a good test -- if a listener doesn't like Billy Corgan's voice or the music here, said person probably won't like much else the band did either. Compared to many of the band's other frenetic, explosive rockers, though, "I Am One" takes a slyer, steadier approach, a relentless but not overdriven groove and trancy performance being the key here. Jimmy Chamberlin's drums kick things off by themselves; one can tell he's no ordinary drummer just from that, able to clearly swing as much as pound -- jazz-rock in a way that doesn't stink. D'arcy's low, cutting bass line exudes everything from goth doom via the Cure's Simon Gallup to earlier darkness from the likes of Geezer Butler. Corgan and James Iha, meanwhile, pile on the guitar crunch, the soloing sounding like everything from Brian May to Dave Navarro in a puree with the volume set beyond ten, yet all without losing the rhythmic, steady forward motion of the track. Corgan himself gets in both strangled cries and soothing sighs throughout -- both would form his vocal metier for the rest of the Pumpkins' career, and it all works quite well at that.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Gish 1991 Virgin
I Am One 1992 Hut Records 4:07
Pumpkin Seeds 1993 Sponge Records
No Image 1994 Not Guilty 4:15
Indie Top 20, Vol. 20 1995
Various Artists
Flute World 4:06
Hut Recordings: 1991-2001 2001
Various Artists
Hut Records 4:08
Earphoria 2002 Virgin 7:55
I Love Rock! 2007
Various Artists
Wagram Records 4:20
Cherub Rock: Live at the Cabaret Metro, Chicago, Il - August 14, 1993 BRR
Rhinoceros Daydream Gold Standard Laboratories
Sunshine of Your Love Tarantula Records
blue highlight denotes editor's pick