Soundgarden / Telephantasm


Soundgarden is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1984 by lead singer Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band’s permanent drummer in 1986 while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990.

Soundgarden was one of the seminal bands in the creation of grunge, a style of alternative rock that developed in Seattle, and was one of a number of grunge bands signed to the record label Sub Pop. Soundgarden was the first grunge band to sign to a major label (A&M Records, in 1988), though the band did not achieve commercial success until they popularized “grunge” in the early 1990s with Seattle contemporaries Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam.

Soundgarden achieved its biggest success with the 1994 album Superunknown, which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and yielded the Grammy Award-winning singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman“. In 1997, the band broke up due to internal strife over its creative direction. On January 1, 2010, Cornell alluded to a Soundgarden reunion. On April 5, 2010, it was announced that Soundgarden would play Lollapalooza in Chicago on August 6–8, 2010. A secret reunion concert under the name “Nudedragons” was held at the Showbox at the Market in Seattle on April 16, 2010. It was Soundgarden’s first show since 1997.

As of 2010, Soundgarden had sold over nine million records in the United States,[1] and an estimated twenty million worldwide.

Telephantasm is a compilation album by the American grunge band Soundgarden. Featuring songs spanning the band’s 14-year career, it was released on September 28, 2010 through A&M Records. The album was certified platinum by RIAA after its first day of retail availability based on the one million discs that were included in packages for the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

The Analysis:

Hunted Down—-Right off, with the intro of the song, there is a nice aggression that appears and allows you to realize how much you missed this band since they have been apart. The song has a nice blues lean to it…the vocal delivered in an almost lazy and sexy manner. What surprises me with most of the songs is the deep tone of the bass, perhaps I have not been paying attention? This is raw and delivered with a total feeling of commitment.

Hands All Over—-Again with the deep intensity! This has a raw and underproduced sound…a far cry from later songs from this band that were almost shiny and filled with studio gloss. This makes me think of The Cult from the very moment it begins to play. This is deep, intense and delivered with a hunger! Cornell delivers a Robert Plant style vocal that will blow you away!

Outshined—-From the opening notes of the song, you as the listener, are able to recognize a much better production clarity. The band never looses that deep bass delivery, but the entire song is much brighter than the previous two…delivered with more clarity and a definite separation of instruments. The vocal harmonies are incredible and the aggression that builds and builds still manages to give me goosebumps. This is fantastic!!!

Rusty Cage—-What a great memorable guitar intro this song has….the drums enter and that deep bass combines to deliver a hell of a rhythm section. Cornell has never sounded better, nor have his lyrics ever been darker and more powerful. This is energetic, relatable and a classic track from one of the founding Seattle fathers!!!

Birth Ritual—-Slowly coming out of the sudden silence, this track builds and builds leading up to the proper introduction of the song. When the deep and dark sound smacks you in the forehead, you know that you have yet another classic. I don’t think I ever realized how Zepplin influenced this band really was….where the hell have I been…right? This chugs along like a classic blues burner…filling me with energy and vigor. Just remarkable!!! Rarely have I ever heard a vocal like this!!!

My Wave—-This is another of those bluesy tracks that make you think back to the acid filled days of the 70’s…seems funny all the ‘grunge’ stuff….this band was just as psychedelic and filled with Birmingham blues as any band that was born in the mid-70’s. I really had forgotten how much I loved this band. A nice trip down memory lane!

Spoonman—-A drug fueled tirade…at least that is what this song is all about to me. This came about the time that Andrew Wood died and Layne was deep in his addiction as well as members of this very band. This is much more aggressive, although the dark bluesy overtones are very intact. Not to mention that this has an accessibility that allowed it to be played everywhere…opening the band up to even more fans. Stellar!!!

Black Hole Sun—-Perhaps the highlight of this bands recording career, this was another of those tracks that was played absolutely everywhere…allowing them an even larger fan base. Cornell has never sounded better and the crisp, clean sound of the music is remarkable. This is, for all intents and purposes, a moment of musical history…Grunge becomes everyday music…no longer defined by its own separate definition. And those vocal harmonies…damn…this still blows me away!!!

Fell On Black Days—-Another stellar track that still plays remarkably well today, this is deep in sound but still crisp and full of that magical rhythm section. Cornell still does his best Plant sway on the song, I can almost see him at the microphone as the song plays. This is less guitar aggressive, but still as emotional and power packed as anything the band has ever done. I love the fact that the drums are pushed to the very front of the mix…what a nice trip down memory lane!

Burden In My Hand—-Cornell enters with his blues fueled vocal right at the onset of the song…the guitar is so much more relaxed and at the onset of the song there is little or no bass at all nor are there drums. This is a nice harmonic track…either it is Chris and Kim together or the vocals are overlayed…..finally the song opens up and the song is nothing less than stellar. this is nice…I have not heard this in a very long time!

Blow Up The Outside World—-This is very different for me….the song seems very steeped in that early psychedelic nature that many bands were playing in the mid 70’s. About the minute and a half mark, the song really opens up and becomes more aggressive and driving. This is classic Soundgarden….the band magically switches between pseudo-Beatles and classic Grunge at a moments notice…keeping you on your toes and wondering what is coming next. Excellent!

Black Rain—-The one ‘new’ song on this release, this is actually a long lost track that the band has played live on occassion but was good enough to really peak the listeners who have followed this band for it’s entire career. This differs little from the classic material and one wonders why it was never released before. If this is an indication of the things to come, I wait with baited breath.

****1/2 out of 5


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