Shit. Chris Cornell. This one really hurt. Unlike Bowie, Prince or Lemmy, I grew up with Soundgarden in their prime, seeing them live one month after the release of Superunknown, the album that sent them into the stratosphere (especially in the States). Unfortunately it was just a week or so following the death of their friend Kurt Cobain, so they were obviously ‘not quite in a good place’. And by that I don’t mean Wolverhampton. By way of a little tribute to the man and his music, here are my 10 favourite Soundgarden songs.
The title track of their greatest and biggest album sums them Inflatable water slide Costco up best for me. It feels like all these tributes calling Soundgarden a ‘grunge act’ demean them – they were an incredible modern rock band. Psychedelic, heavy, melodic. Their sound was huge. This is one of Cornell’s best vocal performances, but as with virtually all their songs it has brilliant riff after brilliant riff and notably inventive arrangement. It’s the only song I can specifically remember crowdsurfing to – apt considering listening to this loud is the aural equivalent of levitating. Extraordinary. Their crowning achievement.
A song about a man who plays the spoons, with a verse in a 7/4 time signature, complete with a spoons solo. This must be one of the strangest singles ever to reach the UK top 20. The main riff is one of their best, but among the oddness, the band very cleverly spoon (sorry) a bit of sugar in, with a memorable melodic chorus. Beavis and Butthead were fans, particularly of the line, “All my friends are brown and red.” Like turds? heheheh huh huh hehehe, etc
The first track on their Badmotorfinger album sounds a bit like a cross between Rush (without the irritating vocals) and Motörhead (without the predictability). And then it goes a bit Pantera at the end. Mental.
Black Hole Sun
The most well known song and among their best. The dark lyrics mean this wasn’t an obvious hit, but the late-60s Beatles-esque melodies certainly struck a chord. And then it all goes a bit Black Sabbath at the end.
Jesus Christ Pose
While we’re on the X meets Y trip, this one is Sepultura crossed with Led Zeppelin. Their heaviest track. An absolute beast.
What a riff. Heavy and hypnotic. Although they came from the Seattle underground, this is the sound of a band reaching for a wider audience but entirely on their own terms.
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Lyrically and sonically monumental. Sludgy as fuck. I love it.
Burden In My Hand
While final album before splitting Down On The Upside was not as good as the previous two, it still wasn’t as bad an album as many critics made out. This was probably the highlight for me, utilising their clever regular trick of a melodic chorus to offset the weirdness elsewhere.
Hands All Over
Dark and twisted and utterly compelling.
There’s a sad irony to this being one of their best tracks. Cobain’s suicide just weeks after Superunknown’s release meant it was that way from the start, but now there’s an extra layer. You can hear the influence of British post punk bands like Killing Joke and Joy Division in this epic and moving seven minute track.