I’ve talked about Chris Cornell’s solo work and his incredible voice before but the band that really made me understand his talent was none other than Soundgarden. For many of us, Soundgarden was our first exposure to this tremendously talented musician and his songs with this band have forever been seared into our very souls. So, what album of theirs could I possibly talk about, well, that would have to be my all time favorite, Superunknown.
Why this album?
By the time Superunknown had come out, I had already been exposed to Soundgarden via their connection with Nirvana and the subsequent ‘Seattle sound’. From Subpop Rock City (on Screaming Life) to Hands All Over (on Louder Than Love) and of course Rusty Cage from Badmotorfinger, I dug them all but when Superunknown hit, it was something absolutely unique. To say Superunknown changed my perception of this band is an understatement. This could possibly be considered a perfect album with not a single bad track in the lot.
Upon receiving this album, with the creepy elf looking art on the cover, I found myself devouring it from start to finish over and over. From Cornell’s vocal transformation from Ozborne like screamer to near ‘rock crooner’ status, to Kim Thayel’s slick guitar work, Ben Shepherds thumping base riffs, all driven by Matt Cameron’s power drumming, this band had reached a level that not many bands ever reach. It was a state of perfection that permeated every single note in every single track. To me, this is definitive Soundgarden and, even though their other albums were great, it was a height they never quite reached again as a band.
Every track on this album is pure perfection but I always pick out a few that just stand out to me. While I would be remiss to not mention the classics like Spoonman or Black Hole Sun, there are other tracks that need some love as well. Let’s talk about those.
Head Down. This one has such a classic 60’s/70’s rock feel that makes it a genuinely unique entry on the album. Written by bassist Ben Shepherd, this is a supremely cool track.
The Day I Tried To Live. This one has always hit me personally as a kid who never really felt like he belonged and on to being an adult who many times felt the same. Cornell himself claimed it was about breaking out of your shell and being social, something he had difficulty with himself. Regardless, it is an incredible track.
Fell On Black Days. Wow, this one also has a personal feel for me. As Cornell himself puts it in the 1994 interview with Melody Maker: ‘It’s a feeling that everyone gets. You’re happy with your life, everything’s going well, things are exciting – when all of a sudden you realize you’re unhappy in the extreme, to the point of being really, really scared. There’s no particular event you can pin the feeling down to, it’s just that you realize one day that everything in your life is FUCKED!”
Ok, where do I get it?
This one is doubtful to ever go out of print. In fact an anniversary edition was released not long ago with some truly incredible extras from that period. If you want the basic album, grab one here for around $15. You should already own it though…
I am still sad I never got a chance to see them live but I am forever grateful to have their music at hand whenever I need it.
Late to the Game 2/18/2020
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