Friday, June 6, 2014


The 20th anniversary of the band's biggest album, but the 30th of the group itself.  Soundgarden spent 10 years in the grunge pits, another Seattle band combining punk with metal and slowly helping build the scene.  Their sound was a bit more mainstream on the metal side, and was edging further that way, as more and more rough edges were being polished up ever so slightly.  By the time this album came through, they had been opening for Guns N' Roses and edging into the Top 40.

Home to Black Hole Sun and Spoonman, post-Nirvana the world was ready for Soundgarden, and Superunknown entered the charts at #1, buoyed by big MTV play.   They were more understandable than Nirvana, more aligned to metal and hard rock, and lyrically less challenged than Nirvana.  The themes were bleak for sure, a lot of images and darkness and heavy moods, but not with the progressive-thinking edge that Cobain brought.  And while their contemporaries reveled in the punk basics and tried to keep that energy, Soundgarden was willfully trying to develop, bringing in more melodic sounds.  Anyway, those are the differences with this album, and if you leaned towards classic metal Soundgarden stood on top.

It's a pretty prime set of bonus cuts on disc two of the Deluxe edition.  There are several demos, and some nifty rehearsal takes of songs, including one of Limo Wreck that really shows how it began life as a reworking of Led Zep's Dazed And Confused.  There's quite a striking acoustic version of Like Suicide, and even some studio chat that shows how they were working things out as they progressed.  It's one of the rare times when the bonus disc of demos is actually quite interesting and worthy of playing on its own a few times.  There's also a super deluxe version available, with two more CD's, loaded with even more demos, b-sides and rehearsal versions, plus a fifth disc of Blu-ray audio, and a big hard cover book.

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