Soundgarden - "Live On I5" (CD)
"Live On I5" track listing:
2. Searching With My Good Eye Closed
3. Let Me Drown
4. Head Down
6. Rusty Cage
7. Burden In My Hand
8. Helter Skelter
9. Boot Camp
10. Nothing To Say
11. Slaves And Bulldozers
13. Fell On Black Days
14. Search And Destroy
15. Ty Cobb
16. Black Hole Sun
17. Jesus Christ Pose
Reviewed by EdgeoftheWorld on March 16, 2011
With grunge-era greats Soundgarden returning to stage and studio after more than a decade apart, the band has opened its vaults with "Live On I5" to tide us over until the new material arrives, and give us a listen to what one of the band's live shows was like back in the day. Recorded in cities along Interstate 5 in Oregon, Washington, and California in the mid-1990s just prior to Soundgarden’s breakup, the album captures the band's Zeppelin-esque tight-but-looseness in its best moments, while also feeling a little greatest hits heavy. Then again, who really wants a "deep cuts live" album?
Chris Cornell's powerful vocals are at the forefront on "Live On I5," with vocal performances on tracks like "Slaves And Bulldozers" and "Black Hole Sun" that equal or exceed their album versions. On the other hand, Cornell struggles to reach the notes on "Let Me Drown," which robs the song of most of its power. "Spoonman" also suffers from some vocal weirdness, with the backing vocals in the call-and-response verses not quite lining up as they should.
Kim Thayil's guitar playing gains an appealing looseness in the live versions of "Fell On Black Days" and "Head Down," while the crushing "Outshined" riff grows stronger with the roar of the crowd. A nine-minute take on "Slaves And Bulldozers" has the band going into full-on Zeppelin territory.
The set list is basically culled from the band's three best-known albums, "Badmotorfinger," "Superunknown," and "Down On The Upside," with only "Nothing To Say" taken from one of the band's earlier Sub Pop-era releases. The then current "Down On The Upside" especially feels a little over represented, with tracks like "Ty Cobb" and "Dusty" not adding much to the mix. That said, other than "Let Me Drown," there really isn't a bad song to be had here.
Grunge fans will find Soundgarden's "Live On I5" to be a most excellent blast from their flannel-shirted past. Here's hoping the material from the band's upcoming studio disc measures up.
Highs: "Slaves And Bulldozers," "Outshined," and "Black Hole Sun"
Lows: Poor vocals on "Let Me Drown" and "Spoonman" are a bit distracting.
Bottom line: A mostly great sonic snapshot of one of grunge's greatest acts in the band's touring prime.
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