Soundgarden “Telephantasm”


(28 Sept 2010, A&M/Interscope)

Somewhere near the top of the list of jobs I’d never want is to be the guy who has to spend the next few weeks combing over Chris Cornell’s body of work to compile a hits album that is set to be released in ten… nine… eight…

I shouldn’t say that. It probably won’t be that bad. I’m sure there’s a team of people crunching numbers, scanning YouTube and Spotify stats and flipping coins deciding what will go on and what will be left on the cutting room floor.

Telephantasm is as close to a perfect Soundgarden retrospective album as you’re going to get for the price and length. 2 CDs/1DVD makes for a great overview of the band’s career and helps point to albums one may wish to explore further. Plus it’s not so long that it’s a chore to listen to and attention starts to wander.

“All Your Lies” does not start things off well. All tracks are in chronological order and this comes from a 1986 compilation featuring other popular bands from Seattle. I’m not sure if it’s poor production that turns me off from this track or a horrible guitar effect. Either way, I’d much rather skip to…

“Hunted Down” which is the first track featuring the Soundgarden we all know and love. Those screeching vocals and crazy guitar lines are all there. But before we can build momentum and get on a roll we have…

“Fopp” is a cover of an Ohio Players song. I’m not a fan. Funk is not something I find myself getting very heavily into and Soundgarden do not do it well.

“Beyond the Wheel” is just so-so. I can’t really feel strongly about it one way or the other. It’s definitely heavy and unique but has too slow a pace to really rock too hard.

“Flower” is the first song on this compilation I love. It has an odd main riff that worms it’s way into my head and is unique enough that I still haven’t gotten sick of it. This is the beginning of Soundgarden becoming a powerhouse.

“Hands All Over” picks up where “Flower” stops. It’s similar, but this is more of a good-time party rocker.

“Big Dumb Sex” has a title that fully explains itself. It’s big. It’s dumb. And the word fuck is used many, many times.

“Get on the Snake” is a good, groovy rocker, but it’s not quite great.

“Room a Thousand Years Wide” is the beginning of mega-stardom Soundgarden. This is one of the lesser known tracks from Badmotorfinger, but I’m not sure why. I enjoy this track a lot better than…

“Rusty Cage” isn’t a bad song. I always think of a motorcycle racing game for Sega that it was used in. Did any of you ever play Road Rash? It was pretty fun.

“Outshined” is the perhaps the biggest track from Badmotorfinger. The strange thing about it is how much it’s just a grunge version of the hair metal Soundgarden replaced. It’s just much sludgier.

“Slaves and Bulldozers” is another great deep cut. Why a track like this isn’t heard on the radio every hour is beyond me, but that’s probably why I can’t find a job as a station manager.

Disc Two starts off with a stellar live version of “Jesus Christ Pose.” This song has a ton of urgency, power, and speed on its album version, but the live version kicks all those elements into high gear. If you never hear another Soundgarden track, this is the one to hear.

“Birth Ritual” comes from the Singles Motion Picture Soundtrack. It’s another so-so song. It sounds like a stock track that they had lying around so they threw it on there.

The next five songs are taken right from Superunknown and are mostly the same tracks that appear on the album. The only alternate take is “Fell On Black Days” which is the video version. I think I enjoy this version better than the album version, but it isn’t extremely different. The only difference comes from Kim Thayil’s guitar lines. The rest has a nice laid-back, live-in-the-studio vibe.

Then there are four tracks from Down on the Upside. This time there are two alternate tracks. I remember when they performed “Pretty Noose” on Saturday Night Live. It’s a good version, but not stellar. “Blow Up The Outside World” is taken from an MTV Live ‘N’ Loud performance. It’s nice to have different versions instead of the same thing I can get on the other albums in my collection, but these tracks aren’t must hear like “Jesus Christ Pose.”

The album ends with “Black Rain,” an outtake from the Badmotorfinger sessions. Not a bad track, but I can see why it was left out.

 

All that’s missing from this collection is “Loud Love” and “The Day I Tried To Live.” The latter makes an appearance on the DVD, but it would be nice to hear while I’m listening to this cruising down the highway. If they were to add those tunes and a few more alternate/live takes I would call this collection perfect. As it is, I’ll have to give it 3.5/5 stars.

I just wonder how many discs the Cornell tribute will be. Telephantasm provides a great groundwork for the Soundgarden stuff, but there’s nothing from Temple of the Dog, Audioslave or any of his solo work. It’s going to have to be a box set, with (hopefully) a truncated version for us cheapos.

I just hope it does justice to a stellar career.

RIP Chris Cornell


Wow. Just… wow.

You know, when I was younger I wanted to grow up and be Chris Cornell. I was extremely disappointed to discover the job had already been taken.

Now that it’s open again I doubt I could fill his shoes.

I’ve gone on record as saying I wasn’t a huge fan of King Animal, but I was looking forward to its followup. I’m disappointed that I’ll probably never hear that now.

Hope you enjoy my hastily thrown together playlist.

 

 

Soundgarden Superunknown

Soundgarden Down on the Upside

The Where’s My Shirt Tour

#Top15onthe15th

Rock on the Range 2013

The Best Singers


live-sound-microphone

I really enjoy “Best of…” lists. And I never shy away from the chance to do one for my blog.

My “Best Guitarist’s” post from last week managed to stir the pot and spark a bit of conversation. I’m hoping this post will do the same.

Of course, the problem with a “Best Singers” list is similar the problem with a “Best Guitarists” list: What am I judging them on? Do they get points for creativity? Lyrics? Emotion? I try to weigh several factors and think I came out with a list that should have something for everyone.

But I’m sure I missed a few

 

Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantomas, About 12 billion others) – I like Mike Patton. He’s a phenomenal singer with a very impressive range. He should be higher on this list but I hate is that he has the same effect on grown men as the Jonas Brother’s have on 13-year-old girls.

GG Allin covered in his own shit and still singing.

GG Allin covered in his own shit and still singing.

GG Allin – To this day he’s the only man I’ve ever seen take a shit on stage and not miss a note. Not that that’s a good thing, but it is really impressive.

Simon & Garfunkel – These two were way more than the sum of their parts. Paul Simon always wrote great songs, but they never shined as bright without him harmonizing with Art Garfunkel.

Tom Waits – Anyone who can have such a long and prolific career while sounding like they’re gargling gravel and broken glass is OK in my book.

Layne Staley (Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Class of ’99) – The thing that always impressed me most about Staley was how he could take songs like “Rooster” and “Would?” that were written by Jerry Cantrell and pump so much emotion into them.

Meat Loaf – I’ve heard a few people say that they don’t enjoy the way Meat Load mixes opera singing with hard rock. That usually ends the conversation for me.

Adele – I love that deep, smoky, soulful voice. She sings like a black girl. Which makes me think I must be racist because I didn’t put Tina Turner or Gladys Knight on here.

Elton John – I want to make a gay joke here, but I’m not that crude. So I’ll just let Tenacious D do it.

 

Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, Solo) – Not only does he have the most impressive set of pipes this side of 1988, he also writes some of the craziest lyrics this side of Dax Riggs.

Leonard Cohen – In ‘Tower of Song’ he sings: “I was born like this I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” But I’ve heard some of his older stuff and I don’t think he really started to shine until the mid-Eighties.

 

For more of these lists check out:

The Best Bassists

The Best Drummers

 

The Best of 2014


The best thing about the end of the year is all the “best of” lists that help you catch up on the great music you missed in the past twelve months. My favorites so far are the ones from Loudwire.com here and here. As these are my favorite thing about New Years, I though I would try one myself.

Best of 2014:

11) Marilyn Manson “Deep Six” While I don’t expect The Pale Emperor to be 2015s album of the year, I was pleasantly surprised by this track. It’s actually pretty good. Which is more than I can say for most of what Marilyn Manson does these days.

 

10) Bastard Friendly Lost in Translation Hahaha. Just kidding. This band sucks.

 

9) BABYMETAL

 

8) Alice in Chains “Phantom Limb” The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here came out last year, but I only saw this video a few weeks ago. Just like all the other videos from that album, it’s pretty amazing.

 

7) Faith No More “Motherfucker”

 

6) Kyng “Electric Halo” This is one that slid under my radar until I got to the “best of 2014” lists. Now I can’t get it out of my head.

 

5) Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt (2013) Pearl Jam deserve a big pat on the back for doing something they haven’t done in 20 years and releasing an album worth listening to. Way to go guys! I knew you had it in you!

 

4) Killer Be Killed

 

3) The Last Internationale Usually when I hear about a drummer’s side project I think… well, I don’t really give it any thought. But when that drummer is Brad Wilk from Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave I figure it’s worth a listen. This band doesn’t disappoint.

 

2) The Pretty Reckless Going to Hell

 

1) Monster Magnet “The Duke” A few sites have called this the best video of the year. And I’m inclined to agree with them.