Tag Archives: Chris Cornell

ALBUMS OF WEEKS 39 & 40: MOTHER LOVE BONE / TEMPLE OF THE DOG

I’ve been listening to so much varied music, the task of choosing just one album per week becomes a difficult one, incurring into this unacceptable delay. I’m sorry, for sure!

Few weeks ago, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the release of Singles, this Seattle spirit invaded me for a couple of weeks and I started recovering a couple of albums from that time. on one hand the compilation album of songs by Mother Love Bone, , and on the other, this super band created to tribute the memory of Andy Wood, precisely the former leader of Mother Love Bone, who passed away in 1990, of a heroin overdose.

Recovering these albums from my teenage days, when I was turning 36 seems kind of a response to midlife crisis, huh?

To be honest, till I didn’t listen to Temple of the Dog, I didn’t know much about Mother Love Bone. In Pearl Jam’s universe, this band was a referent, and Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard were part of it, same as Green River, thus they were something in the queue of compulsory listening, but not preferential.

If I had to relate this band to a song, I’d say Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns immediately, the song which was included in Singles’ soundtrack. This two-part song, evolved from Crown of Thorns, is simply epic, with a rising and growing structure I had never listened to something similar before. Not many songs have this kind of intensity. Of course, this was the theme which opened the gates to Andrew Wood and Mother Love Bone.

This album, aka Stardog Champion, includes songs from  their EP Shine and their album Apple. Unfortunately here’s not much more stuff available, as the band just lasted for two years, till Wood died from heroin overdose. Apple, their debut album was released after he passed away. The whole story was quite tragic, especially because he was trying to rehab, and he was just 24.

When you listen to Mother Love Bone, you realize there was actually a Seattle scene, and musicians from different bands, were also close friends, sharing their influences and style. This album is typically end of 80’s production and means the birth of a style, after the combination of rock and metal. You listen to Come Bite the Apple and Alice in Chains come to your mind, and Heartshine makes me think of Soundgarden too. Considering Alice in Chains dedicated Facelift to the singer, and Would? was inspired by him and others deceased due to drugs overdose, and Chris Cornell was Wood’s former roommate, it’s easy to find the boundaries.

Despite the quality of the band, formed by remarkable musicians nowadays, the soul of the band was definitely Wood. He had talent, and a voice, and his style was quite unique. I’d say what I like most was that he was elegant and very glam singing. I have no idea of his main influences but I’d bet David Bowie and Marc Bolan would be two of them. This glam combined to metal and rock, made the difference.

Temple of the Dog was the Bible, and it was a very expensive album and hard to find back in the day. I remember those who owned a copy, it was like their most valuable treasure, and we used to admire and envy them.

When we discovered this album, Pearl Jam were already one of the hottest bands in the world and in our lives, but Temple of the Dog was a tribute to Andrew Wood, conceived by Chris Cornell, no less. Thus, he recruited his drummer mate in Soundgarden, Matt Cameron, the former members of Mother Love Bone, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, the lead guitarist Mike McCready, and Eddie Vedder, coming from San Diego for an audition with the ex-MLB, also provided lead and backing vocals. This project was actually responsible for the birth of Pearl Jam.

Hunger Strike, with both Chris Cornell and Vedder on lead vocals, became an anthem for many of us. I think whenever I sing it, I still do it as passionate as 20 years ago. The magic of music I guess…

Apart from this clash of titans, there are amazing songs included in this album, wonderful Say Hello 2 Heaven, written by Cornell for his friend, Call Me a Dog, Times of Trouble and Wooden Jesus are simply brilliant.

The Seattle scene, the grunge scene or whatever you want to label it, could be easily summed up in this album and Singles motion picture soundtrack. A different style, a pessimistic contrast to 1980’s careless attitude of LA hard rock bands, coming from a place where drugs were hitting the youth, and burying many of them, and the voice of a generation unable to fit in society. For some this was a fake attitude, an aesthetic movement, so was punk and still remains, and nowadays probably on a global scale, many who didn’t feel the current society was reflecting them still have the same opinion.

But do not talk about politics, society or frustration, just let the music do the talking

THE NIGHT I TRIED TO QUIVER

And finally, last Friday night I was able to pay my respects to one of my favorite all time bands, Soundgarden. I would have preferred seeing them at a proper venue, but I had to move my ass to Sonisphere in Getafe. Thanks  to Orange Goblin, good ol’ pals from my London years, I got a freebie for me and Kiko for Friday, thus I can’t complain by all means.

It’s hard to admit the experience, although worth living, it wasn’t magical. Such great expectations didn’t allow me to consider a possible letdown. Guess this can happen when you idolize a band half your life, and once again, my theory or, better said, dislike, towards band reunions, has been reminded  and confirmed.

As the saying goes, third time’s lucky, it took me almost 20 years to see Soundgarden.

First attempt was when they were opening for Guns n’ Roses together with Faith No More. The show was cancelled due to aluminosis affecting the stadium structure. Sorry I can’t find any translation, basically the inner structure, the basis was literally disintegrating, due to bad quality of concrete.

Second trial was in 1996. Soundgarden and Corrosion of Conformity supporting Metallica. Dani, my boyfriend Joe and I, were in the middle of the bus ride to Donosti, North Spain, in an organized expedition. We liked Metallica, but weren’t huge fans, the target was Soundgarden. Having some beers on the coach, chatting with other people, all of a sudden awful news is revealed: it’s a pity Soundgarden have been cancelled and aren’t playing tonight.

WTF??? Our faces were twisted in shock and despair. We hadn’t heard of it before. What would we do? I had the quick though of asking the driver to stop the bus and try to make it home myself, but we were in the middle of nowhere, and hitchhiking wasn’t an option. Thus there we were, sad and frustrated, at least we enjoyed the great performance of COC in first rows, close to the stage, but with Metallica I did realize they are not my cup of tea. Of course I like some of their hits, but no, I’m not into them. I got bored after 40 minutes and got pissed drinking liters of kalimotxo.

I had been listening to Soundgarden intensely for the past weeks, not only their masterpiece Badmotorfinger but also focusing on Down on the Upside and Louder than Love. Yeah, I’ve been nervous and excited for at least two weeks.

I hate macro festivals, for many reasons: poor organization, hordes of people, watered down beer, and disgusting toilets, and what is worse, huge distance from the stages to first rows, now extended due to these VIP black circles, and frequent sound issues. At Sonisphere a new inconvenience was added: problems with 3G and mobile signal, well, communications almost down to none. Ridiculous!

It was past midnight when the general buzz turned silent with the intro of Searching with my Good Eye Closed. I reckon sound was awful, but I was delighted such an atmospheric and trippin’ song was the starter, followed by Spoonman and the powerful Jesus Christ Pose.

However, in my humble opinion, adding Gun was a mistake, because it changed  the rhythm radically ending with the initial euphoria abruptly. Not an appropriate song for a fest. It’s like I got a bit unfocused. Fortunately it was fixed with Blow Up the Upside World and amazing Fell on Black Days. Yep, at this point I dropped a couple of tears.

I don’t think the set list was so bad, however the order of songs wasn’t chosen very wisely. Ups and downs, 3 top hits as Outshined, Rusty Cage and Black Hole Sun, one after another, instead of approaching the possibility of better combinations, the horrible new single, Live to Rise, which wasn’t necessary, almost at the end of the show, and Slaves & Bulldozers, a personal favorite, for closing the set.

I’m taking a deep breath to talk about my feelings right now, because they are messed up.

Yeah! I can tick my personal musical To-Do List and now I can say I saw Soundgarden. I’m also aware of the passing of time, and I already knew I wasn’t to enjoy one of their early 90’s shows in Settle either. I love most of the songs they played, but something didn’t work as I expected, and it wasn’t a blast.

Fuck my life! It wasn’t a blast, and it took me one day to evaluate the show, gather my memories bathed in beer, recover the set list, which you can listen here, and analyze why the fuck this is not going to be included in my top 5 2012 live shows.

Cameron was a machine, Cornell’s voice was much more than decent, and in general everything was fine, but no, everything was too cold for me, too distant, and when this happens I’m unable to dive and integrate in the show itself.

I’ve had this sweet and sour feeling twice already this year, first time with Manic Street Preachers, and now with Soundgarden. Now my belly is having bumps, afraid this happens with The Afghan Whigs on Thursday. I could not endure another disappointment at the same level. Dulli and company, you’re my only hope!

The night I tried to quiver, I ended up frustrated. What a shame!