Reprinted without permission from Melody Maker, November 22, 1997
THE A TEAM
It seems like Soundgarden's rich and fruitful career falls into two distinctive camps, reflected quite clearly on this, their first post-split release. Along with lesser-known Seattle-ites such as The Fluid, Green River and Tad, Soundgarden deserve heavy crediting when Hollywood finally gets round to making the movie ('Men In Jeans', anyone?) - they really were the true Godfathers of Grunge. So we get plenty of clattering, thundering noise which spits vitriol and cold lager and then, on the other hand we get the big-bollocked Nineties rawk which saw Soundgarden turning into a fully-fledged, credible crew of alterna-metallers.
From 'Nothing To Say' (their first vinyl-only single on Sub Pop) through to tracks off their final album, 'Down On The Upside', there's a certain barbaric, primeval charm in each of Soundgarden's over-extended, highly-calculated barrages of noise. With a tendency to re-enact the air-raid siren wails of rock gods like Ozzy and, ahem, Bruce Dickinson, Chris Cornell successfully dragged 'metal' (for that is what it is) into the Nineties by sprucing it up a little and calling it 'alternative'.
Don't worry though - as compilations go, 'A-Sides' is extremely thorough in providing a dissection of Soundgarden's extremely distinctive sound. All the favourites are here: 'Rusty Cage' 'Spoonman', 'Outshined', 'Black Hole Sun', 'Pretty Noose' and, my personal favourite, 'Jesus Christ Pose' which squeaks and chugs like no other song which tells of crucifixion, slow death and weeping stigmata. It's f**ing brilliant.
The influence of Soundgarden should not be underestimated. Without their contribution, loud and scary noise may never have become an integral part of music as we know it. Well done fellows, well done.