Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Cornell Recovery Plan

Pretext: Chris Cornell is far and away one of my favourite vocalists in any genre. From the adored Soundgarden, through Temple of the Dog, his solo efforts on 'Euphoria Morning', and even the mixed output of Audioslave, his voice is immediately distinguished and evocative. It soundtracks most of my later teens and recalls many great memories in doing so.

Now, recently Mr Cornell's efforts have become awkward, to put it diplomatically. I've still to hear the last solo album in full as the few songs I heard were underwhelming at best. Then there's the tainted tedium of Audioslave's sophomore slump 'Out of Exile' - only partially redeemed by its decent follow up 'Revelations' - which I more or less have to block from my musical recollection. With these reservations abounding, my approach to the new solo outing 'Scream' has been akin to an infant coming to the dinner table as Mum dishes up.....what's on offer comes from someone whom we should trust implicitly, yet we know they've served us brocolli on more than one occassion prior.

'Scream' is produced by Timbaland and the one song I've tried thus far, Enemy, sounds as eclectic as that collaboration might require. It's still Cornell but there's a thumping beat underneath his mighty tones and synths riding roughshod all over the reverb-laden chorus. It has a certain je ne sais quoi appeal but one feels an entire album with that approach would be over-egging the pudding. Hopefully I'm entirely mistaken in that worry, though the initial reaction of others seems to be that the album is something of a mess for this reason. That may, of course, be the blinkered genre Nazis jerking their knees to the beats.......or it could be the mourning of true fans, at losing the subtle splendor to be found in Cornell's voice when the music is stripped down and complementing that evocative vocal, rather than subsuming it.

So I can't pass judgment yet and need a back up plan in case it all goes horribly wrong when I do. Said plan involves pulling out some mighty past performances and posting them here, forming either a celebratory build up to another strong release or, alternatively, a yearning retrospective for the days when the power of the man's voice was allowed to shine through. Either way, we can still sleep safe in the knowledge that no more Audioslave atrocities are in the pipeline.


Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike (Video)
(from Temple of the Dog - a grunge supergroup but far better than that awful tag)

- Jesus Christ Pose
(from Badmotorfinger - showcasing the harder rocking 'garden of the early 90's)

Soundgarden - Superunknown
(from Superunknown - my favourite album and an all time classic in its own right)

Soundgarden - Burden In My Hand (video)
(from Down on the Upside - oft overlooked but a great album and the one that introduced me)

Chris Cornell - Preaching the End of the World
(from Euphoria Morning - still the shining light of his solo work)

Audioslave - Show Me How to Live
(from Audioslave - he's often drowned out by Tom Morello on other tracks but this better showcases his soaring high notes above those staccato riffs)

Chris Cornell - Redemption Song (video)
(Bob Marley cover, live unplugged)

Now playing: Chris Cornell - Preaching The End Of The World
via FoxyTunes

No comments: