Garbage (album)

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Garbage
GarbageSTinternational.png
Studio album by Garbage
Released August 15, 1995 (1995-08-15)
Recorded April 1994 – May 1995
Studio Smart Studios, Madison
Genre
Length 50:51
Label Mushroom
Producer Garbage
Garbage chronology
Garbage
(1995)
Version 2.0
(1998)
Singles from Garbage
  1. "Vow"
    Released: March 20, 1995
  2. "Only Happy When It Rains"
    Released: September 17, 1995
  3. "Queer"
    Released: November 20, 1995
  4. "Stupid Girl"
    Released: March 11, 1996
  5. "Milk"
    Released: October 7, 1996

Garbage is the debut studio album by rock band Garbage. It was released on August 15, 1995, following critical acclaim and promising chart positions for their debut single "Vow", which reached number 97 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Garbage eventually spent over a year on both the US and UK charts, reaching the top 20 on charts worldwide and receiving multi-platinum certifications in numerous territories. The album's success was helped by the band promoting it on a year-long tour, including playing on the European festival circuit and supporting the Smashing Pumpkins throughout 1996, as well as by a run of increasingly successful singles culminating with "Stupid Girl", which received Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997. Garbage was released to critical acclaim and was viewed by some journalists as an innovative recording for its time.

In October 2015, the album was reissued to mark its 20th anniversary, featuring remastered tracks from the original analog tapes, as well as remixes and previously unreleased alternate versions of songs from the album.[1]

Background[edit]

In 1983, Butch Vig and Steve Marker founded Smart Studios in Madison and Vig's production work brought him to the attention of Sub Pop. Vig's old band Spooner reunited in 1990 and released another record, but disbanded in 1993 as Vig and Marker's career as producers gained strength.[2] In 1994, as Vig became "kind of burned out on doing really long records," he got together with Duke Erikson and Marker, and they started doing remixes for acts such as U2, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and House of Pain, featuring different instrumentation, and often highlighting new guitar hooks and bass grooves. The experience inspired the three men to form a band, where they "wanted to take that remix sensibility and somehow translate it into all of the possibilities of a band setup."[3] An early comment that their work sounded "like garbage" inspired the band's name.[4]

Shirley Manson had been performing with the Edinburgh rock band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie since 1984.[5] In 1993, several band members, including Manson, formed the band Angelfish. Their only release, the self-titled Angelfish, was as commercially unsuccessful as preceding albums by Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, selling only 10,000 copies.[6]

Initial sessions with Vig on vocals, and the member's past work with all-male groups led to the band's desire for a woman on lead.[7] Marker was watching 120 Minutes when he saw the music video of Angelfish's "Suffocate Me", broadcast that one time on the program. He showed the video to Erikson and Vig while their manager Shannon O'Shea tracked Manson down. When Manson was contacted, she didn't know who Vig was and was urged to check the credits on Nirvana's album Nevermind, which Vig produced. On April 8, Manson met Erikson, Marker and Vig for the first time in London. Later that evening Vig was informed of Kurt Cobain's suicide.[4] Garbage was put on hold, until Angelfish were touring North America in support of Live.[8] Erikson, Marker and Vig attended the Metro Chicago date; and Manson was invited to Madison to audition for the band. The audition did not go well, but Manson socialized with the men while there and they found they had a similar taste in music. Angelfish disbanded at the end of the Live tour. Manson called O'Shea and asked to audition again feeling that "it would work out".[4]

Composition and style[edit]

Sample of "Stupid Girl", showing the pre-chorus and first part of the chorus. The music is based around a drum sample from The Clash, and this part of the song incorporates sound effects such as a broken DAT tape.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Garbage has a sound that "tr[ied] to incorporate different styles and genres, throw it all into a big melting pot and see what would happen", according to Vig.[7] Vig explained that as in his opinion "the most exciting bands are those who incorporate all those elements of punk, funk, techno, hip hop, etc." Garbage would attempt to do the same and "take those influences and make them work in the context of a pop song."[9]

The band went overboard with experimentation, with Erikson adding that throughout they liked to include "sounds that we found accidentally, like Steve's sample of a tape deck backing up, or the bit in 'Stupid Girl' that was initially a mistake, but when we slowed it down, actually fit the timbre and pace of the song and became the hook."[3][10]

The lyrics on the record were described by the bandmembers as "a collaborative psycho-therapy session wherein personal demons of various sizes and importance are exorcised, vilified, taken revenge upon and laid to rest." Vig said they tried to deal with "dark themes that I think a lot of people can relate to in some way or another", which included voyeurism, hedonism, perversion, obsession and "the art of self-destruction."[10] Manson stated that even though most of the songs are put together by her, "everybody has ideas that come to the table and I just use what I fancy. When we're working on something, the lyrics take a while to work on and [they] come to me and say 'I've had these ideas, use them if you want' and if there's something I like, I'll stick it in with my own, or vice-versa. Some people come in going 'I've got this great title for a song' and I might use that."[11] Manson remarked that while the content was "a lot more poppy" than most of her previous work, the songs invoked the dark side of her nature, as "sometimes I'm a bit wee creepy, and that definitely comes out in the music."[12] She also declared that music "unlocks sensations and feelings that you keep inside, that society doesn't allow you to show", saying that the gist of a mean-spirited song like "Vow" is very real despite "none of us hav[ing] ever really acted on those feelings".[11] Vig added that the band was eager to exploit the contrast between words and music: "The initial idea was to make this a dark lyric with a shiny, happy, pop sensibility. You could be singing this really catchy line and realize the lyrics were totally wacked."[13]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic stated that the album "has all the trappings of alternative rock -- off-kilter arrangements, occasional bursts of noise, a female singer with a thin, airy voice, but it comes off as pop" due to the "glossy production" of drummer Vig. Erlewine characterized the sound of the record as "slick and professional", full of "well-crafted pop songs", including "trashy alternative pop gems" like "Queer" and "Vow".[14]

The A.V. Club described the album as "a prototypically '90s record full of pumped-up, electronically enhanced, sample-laden pop-rock songs."[15] Newsweek remarked that the album "has an impressive swirl of acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and swanky pop hooks that actually push alternative rock in a new direction."[16] About.com's Tim Grierson stated that the album "was steeped in alt-rock, but hits like “Only Happy It Rains” had a dance element to them that distinguished the band from many of their angst-rock peers." Grierson further categorized the album as "dance-rock" and "techno-rock".[17]

Gil Kaufamn of Addicted to Noise described the album as a "surprisingly non-guitar rock mix of ambient noise, shifting trip-hop beats, grinding jungle rhythms and an ocean-size chunk of buzzing noise that, somehow, gels and rises above the din thanks to catchy hooks and killer song construction."[10] Metro Weekly characterized the album as "a heavy mix of electronic pop and guitar rock with samples, electronica and trip-hop beats thrown into the mix."[18] Billboard noted that "acting on the premise that more is more, foursome Garbage thrashes out power pop with enough skill and passion to rate among the cream of the alternative crop. First single "Queer" is a modern rock success, and other cuts—especially "Only Happy When It Rains", "Stupid Girl", and "Supervixen"—are capable of keeping interests high. Proof that success can come from the oddest combinations."[19]

Recording[edit]

In her return to Smart Studios, Manson began to work on skeletal versions of the songs "Queer", "Vow", and "Stupid Girl".[20] While looking for a record deal to put the album out, Garbage sent out demo tapes with no bio, to avoid a bidding war over Vig's production history.[21] Garbage signed with Mushroom Records UK worldwide and to Jerry Moss's label Almo Sounds for North America.[6] Manson's contribution was licensed to both Mushroom and Almo by her label Radioactive.[22]

"We ended up having 48 tracks of samples and loops, and all sorts of strange processed sound effects and weird guitar overdubs, and then through the mix process we'd add and subtract until we'd get to a point where the song still came across."

 —Butch Vig on the creative process[3]

Garbage continued to work on the album throughout the start of 1995, being delayed by Vig's work producing Soul Asylum's Let Your Dim Light Shine album and the songs being "piecemealed together in the studio".[23] Vig described the composing process as a "disfunctional democracy" where someone would bring a loop or a sample, which was followed by jam sessions where the bandmembers would "find one bar that's kind of cool, load that into our samplers, jam on top of that, [and] Shirley will ad-lib", with the process continuing until the song was finished, often with "all of the original ideas gone, and the song had somehow mutated into something completely different."[3] Among the songs that were completely reworked, "As Heaven is Wide" went from "a big rock track" to a techno song with Tom Jones-inspired beats, only keeping Erikson's fuzz bass and Manson's vocals from the original recording.[3] Given Vig "got bored spending so many years recording really fast, straightforward punk records", the band "didn't want to approach the Garbage record from the angle of a band playing live", making their songs out of samples that would be processed and reworked in a wall of sound process "to create something that sounded fresh."[3]

A major part of the work was Manson rewriting the song lyrics, which Vig said the band attempted to "write from a woman's perspective and I think, initially, some of them were a little pretentious. But as soon as Shirley came on board she simplified the lyrics so that they were a lot more subtle and worked better as songs."[7] Manson detailed that regarding the previous song sketches, "some of the ideas for lyrics I found unsuitable, and others I liked and worked on with them. I always went to bat for what I believed in." [24] She added that because "the lyrics take a while to work on" bandmates would give suggestions and she included the ones that fancied her.[11]

Later, when Garbage began to collate the material for career retrospective Absolute Garbage in 2007 it transpired that the analog masters of the album had been lost. Neither of the band's record labels had them, and after further searching, the band established that none of the mastering facilities they had used had stored them either. Vig and audio engineer Billy Bush were able to track down an archived, but rather incomplete and damaged, set of 16bit 44.1kHz safety DAT mixes. Despite the backups being far from an optimal situation, mastering engineer Emily Lazar at The Lodge in New York City was able to reverse engineer the missing songs from the damaged archive. Lazar used some alternate versions of the songs when completing the final master. Her assistant, Joe LaPorta, mastered and edited the remixes for the special edition.

Promotion[edit]

Main article: Garbage tour

Vig stated that the band had no initial plans to tour as "not going on the road would really free us up to record tons of stuff". As the bandmembers realized "that if we were going to have a successful record we'd have to go out on tour and promote it",[3] and enjoyed playing live to record the "Vow" video, they decided to perform to audiences as well.[23] To perform the complex and layered tracks live, the band hired Los Angeles bass player Daniel Shulman for the tour, and figured out ways to trigger samples on stage, such as having Marker play a keyboard along with his guitar.[3]

On February 24, 1996, Garbage set off on a 17-date headline tour of North America.[25] Garbage then joined Smashing Pumpkins as support on their North American arena tour from June 25, although the support slot was cut short due to the death of Pumpkin's keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin on July 12.[26] Garbage returned to Europe on August 3 promoting Garbage with a month of shows around the festival circuit.[25] Garbage then headed south to Asia and Australia to promote the album, beginning with shows in Singapore on September 28 and ending in Osaka, Japan on October 18.[25] Garbage returned to the US to give Garbage a final push by rejoining the Smashing Pumpkins rescheduled tour from October 23.[25]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[14]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[27]
Entertainment Weekly A[28]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[29]
MusicHound Rock 4/5[30]
NME 8/10[31]
Q 4/5 stars[32]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[33]
Select 4/5[34]
Spin 7/10[35]

Garbage was acclaimed by contemporary critics.[10] At Entertainment Weekly, Steven Mirkin said the band's songwriting was just as exceptional as Vig's guitar and drum sounds, highlighting the "menacing sexuality, sonic playfulness, inventive guitar treatments, and cool vocals by Shirley Manson".[28] Gil Kaufman from Addicted to Noise found the record's sound "akin to a Jackson Pollock painting, thick layers upon layers of sound that have been stripped down, torn apart, pasted together and then stripped again, until the result is a dizzying soundscape that reveals fresh nuances upon repeated listening". He added that the music's mix of ambience, rhythms, and noise "gels and rises above the din thanks to catchy hooks and killer song construction."[10] Melody Maker hailed it as the closest to "perfection as a pop/rock record" can ever,[36] while NME called it "a reminder of how sweet angst can be in the hands of talented players".[31] Garbage was voted the 19th best album of 1995 in the Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics published by The Village Voice.[37] The newspaper's Robert Christgau was somewhat less impressed by the album. He named "Queer" and "Supervixen" as its highlights while jokingly writing "if Whale is Tricky without a dark side, Garbage is Whale without Tricky and depressed about it".[38] Keith Harris wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide that the record's electronic guitar hooks and Manson's "pop-star-as-one-night-stand" persona were seductive but had a "tawdry disposability".[39]

In 1997, Garbage was named the 71st greatest album of all time by The Guardian, which polled a number of renowned critics, artists, and radio DJs worldwide.[40] It was later included in the musical reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[41] According to Los Angeles Times critic Mikael Wood, the record's techno-minded sound and Manson's alluring persona complemented and countered the contemporary post-grunge music Vig had helped pioneer after producing Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind.[42] Sound on Sound journalist Sam Inglis argued that the musical techniques used on Garbage were radical at the time and influenced subsequent popular music, "uniting distorted guitars and cool female vocals with production that owed as much to Public Enemy as Led Zeppelin".[43] In Jancee Dunn's opinion, the album always sounded "very forward-thinking, intelligent", and current, even when heard more than a decade later.[44]

Commercial performance[edit]

Garbage debuted at number 29 on the Top Heatseekers chart dated September 2, 1995,[45] before peaking at number two on March 9, 1996.[46] On the issue dated September 30, 1995, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number 193,[47] and reached its peak position of number 20 on August 10, 1996.[48] The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 24, 1999,[49] and by August 2008, it had sold 2.4 million copies in the United States.[50] In Canada, the album reached number 25 on RPM's albums chart and was certified double platinum in Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), denoting shipments in excess of 200,000 units.[51][52]

Garbage debuted at number 12 on the UK Albums Chart in October 1995 with 9,409 copies sold in its first week,[53][54] eventually peaking at number six in April 1996.[55] The album was certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on October 16, 1998,[56] and had sold 701,757 copies in the United Kingdom as of May 2012.[57] The album saw modest success across continental Europe, reaching number 16 in France, number 19 in Sweden, number 23 in Finland, number 30 in Norway, and number 55 in Germany.[58] In Oceania, it charted at number four in Australia and number one in New Zealand,[58] earning double platinum certifications in both countries.[59][60]

Legacy[edit]

Industrial rock band The Dreaming covered #1 Crush for their 2015 album Rise Again.[61] Alexz Johnson covered "Stupid Girl" for the soundtrack album Songs from Instant Star.[62] "Only Happy When It Rains" was covered by Metallica during an acoustic performance at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit show.[63]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Garbage, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "Supervixen"   3:55
2. "Queer"   4:36
3. "Only Happy When It Rains"   3:56
4. "As Heaven Is Wide"   4:44
5. "Not My Idea"   3:41
6. "A Stroke of Luck"   4:44
7. "Vow"   4:30
8. "Stupid Girl" (Garbage, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) 4:18
9. "Dog New Tricks"   3:56
10. "My Lover's Box"   3:55
11. "Fix Me Now"   4:43
12. "Milk"   3:53

20th Anniversary Edition[edit]

Sampling credits

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[59] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[52] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[60] Gold 25,000^
France (SNEP)[89] Gold 174,300[90]
Germany 230,000[91]
Ireland (IRMA)[60] Gold 7,500^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[60] 2× Platinum 30,000^
Portugal (AFP)[92] Gold 20,000^
Singapore (RIAS)[60] Gold 5,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[56] 2× Platinum 701,757[57]
United States (RIAA)[49] 2× Platinum 2,400,000[50]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Date Territory Label Format/Notes
August 15, 1995 United States, Canada Almo Sounds CD, double-LP, cassette
August 29, 1995 Europe Mushroom, BMG CD, cassette
September 4, 1995 Australia, New Zealand White
October 2, 1995 United Kingdom Mushroom CD, double-LP, cassette, 7" box set
October 21, 1995 Japan Mushroom, BMG CD, with two bonus tracks
November 17, 1995 France CD, with in-store Rare Track Collection bonus disc
September 23, 1996 Australia White Double-CD, Tour Edition, with five bonus tracks
January 8, 1997 Japan White, BMG
March 25, 1997 Korea, Singapore Double-CD, with four bonus tracks
April 14, 1997 France, Germany, Spain Mushroom, BMG CD, with shrinkwrapped "#1 Crush" CD single
April 23, 1997 Japan CD, titled G - New Edition, with two bonus tracks
November 29, 1999 France CD deluxe digipak edition
United Kingdom Simply Vinyl Double-LP; 180gm heavyweight vinyl
March 20, 2000 Mushroom MiniDisc
November 23, 2003 Worldwide
(except North America)
A&E CD reissue on Warner Brothers
February 28, 2005 Digital download
August 6, 2012 Stunvolume
20th Anniversary Edition
Date Territory Label Format/Notes
October 2, 2015 Worldwide (except North America) Stunvolume, PIAS, Liberation Music Standard edition: Digital
Deluxe edition: Double-CD + Digital
Super Deluxe Edition: Digital
North America Almo Sounds, UMe
October 30, 2015 Worldwide (except North America) Stunvolume, PIAS, Liberation Music Standard edition double-LP (128grm pink vinyl)
November 27, 2015 North America Almo Sounds, UMe
December 2015 Worldwide Stunvolume Deluxe edition triple-LP box set (180grm heavyweight vinyl)

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External links[edit]