From Soundgarden to Sinatra! (WTF?)


I know, it has been a while. I can't say it won't be a while before I'm back, so tonight I'm packing this post with music... and total fucking randomness! If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind mixing his Sinatra with his Pearl Jam and his AC/DC, this one is for you.

"Shake a Leg" by AC/DC:
I must have heard this song dozens of times over the years, but it never grabbed me by the throat until it popped up on my iPod shuffle a few weeks ago. I was embarrassed to find out that it wasn't some obscure b-side, but rather just one of the many blistering rockers on the band's classic Back in Black album. This song easily climbs to the top of my favorite post-Bon Scott AC/DC numbers, and belongs on your next highway road trip soundtrack. I'm sure ol' Frank would have been a big fan. (Revisiting Back in Black takes me back to one of my strangest AC/DC-associated memories: a friend of mine hired a terrible team of DJs for her wedding, and at one point I had left the reception to catch a phone call. Upon my return, they were playing "Hell's Bells." Here's a tip to DJs everywhere: if you want to clear a dancefloor, play "Hell's Bells." I've never seen so many horrified grey-hairs in my life.)

"Hands All Over"
"Stray Cat Blues"
"Girl U Want"
"Mind Riot"
"Burden in My Hand"by SOUNDGARDEN
"Seasons" by CHRIS CORNELL:
Chris Cornell, former lead singer of hard rock bands like Soundgarden and Audioslave, has some new solo material out, and if you haven't yet heard it, it is FUCKING BRUTAL. And I don't mean "brutal" in the sense that thrash metal is brutal. Brutal as in virtually impossible to listen to, and cringe-inducing. I'm not even going to waste time trying to find links to his new music; doing so would be like actively finding someone to kick me in the balls.

Cornell was the next Robert Plant, a stunningly good looking and charismatic frontman with a wicked set of pipes that could evoke Rhythm & Blues one minute and then shatter your windows the next. His work in Soundgarden (and the one-off side project with Pearl Jam known as Temple of the Dog) proved that. Then... dude went solo. And not the good solo, like his "Seasons" from the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's Singles, which made me hope for the day he would put out an acoustic album. Instead, Cornell released a couple of boring, plodding singer-songwriter-y records. His newest album, Scream, looks like a step in an even more misguided direction, with Cornell seeking to hip himself up to the kids like he's Justin Timberlake by leaning on producer Timbaland. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing but respect for Timbaland. This misstep is all Cornell's.

Dude: stick to rock. You're in your mid 40s now, so who are you trying to appeal to with this crap? Teenagers aren't going to be fooled by a middle aged man trying to make singer-songwriter dance music. Ask Jewel how that shit went when she tried it. Even your Audioslave stuff kinda sucked, but at least you were back at the front of a muscular rock band.

Sorry about the tirade, but I just wanted to give you guys a handful of tracks that at least represented what was great about Cornell before this shit hits the airwaves (if it hits at all). The above tracks are presented chronologically, for the most part, with "Seasons" the exception. "Stray Cat Blues" and "Girl U Want" are, respectively, covers of Rolling Stones and DEVO songs. "Mind Riot" is a bit of an obscure choice on my part, from Soundgarden's (in my opinion) best album, Badmotorfinger. I've always thought "I was slipping through the cracks of a stolen jewel / I was tightrope walking in two-ton shoes" was one of the best opening couplets in any rock song.

"Reach Down" (live) by PEARL JAM (feat. Chris Cornell)
"Crown of Thorns" (live) by PEARL JAM:
As a sort of extension of the Cornell theme, here's the man joining Pearl Jam for a live performance of "Reach Down" from the aforementioned Temple of the Dog album. In addition, I've included a really rare performance,, Pearl Jam covering the Mother Love Bone song "Crown of Thorns." Mother Love Bone was lead by one of Cornell's best friends, vocalist Andrew Wood, who died prior to the release of the band's first full length album. Cornell joined most of the members of Wood's band (who had begun working with a new singer named Eddie Vedder, for Temple of the Dog. Circle closed. (The performance of "Crown of Thorns" comes from Pearl Jam's 2001 10th anniversary show in Las Vegas, and was released as one of the band's Christmas singles.)

"Hung Up on My Baby"
"Never Can Say Goodbye" by ISAAC HAYES:
It's too late for me to eulogize Isaac Hayes, so I'm just going to let the man speak for himself. Though I must add: listen to the fucking groove on "Hung Up on My Baby." Unbelievable.

"When the Wind Was Green" by FRANK SINATRA:
This has always been one of my all-time favorite Sinatra tunes, but I've only owned it on vinyl until last week when I finally hunted down a digital copy of the brilliant September of My Years. Frank's deep voice is buttery as hell here, and the way ends some of these stanzas (the way he sings "tumbling, stumbling down" or "in a brown wind, dying" for example) can just break your heart. What a voice.



Joel said...

Yow, nice to have you back! Thanks, as always.

Dane said...

I really appreciate the diversity of music featured on this blog. Thanks!