So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1988 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Steve is Ultramega OK with listening to Soundgarden...
Being a Soundgarden fan was and always has been a pleasure. There are no factions of music fandom to fight when it comes to Soundgarden, mention Nirvana and everyone has differing opinions, Soundgarden though leaves everyone in agreement, this band were fantastic. From old recordings my friend had of the E.P’s they released on Subpop, to seeing them live in the 1990’s, my love of Soundgarden has never dwindled and it's why I took the sad passing of Chris Cornell harder than I did the tragedy of losing any of my other music heroes. My two favourite Soundgarden albums, Louder Than Love and Badmotorfinger, both have their DNA origins in Ultramega OK and, whilst Ultramega is not the band's best release, Cornell talked at length about the band’s disagreements with producer Drew Canulette, it's still better than most albums released in a rock genre in that period.
Cornell and the band may not have been understood by Canulette, they may even feel let down by their new label SST but, let’s be honest, Ultramega OK is a stonking good album. It went on to win a Grammy and how many musical acts can say they won a Grammy for something they aren’t that proud of? Flower may have been the only release from the album on the singles chart but there are a few tracks that would have done good business if the band and the record had had the right amount of backing at the time. Beyond the Wheel, a showcase for every aspect of Cornell’s voice, and Head Injury still hold up today. Thirty years later and some songs the band think were not produced correctly still sound fresh and new? Yep. Now imagine how iconic this album would have been with proper production? Goosebumps?
It's hard to argue with the band, they weren’t happy with Ultramega OK. Later albums were stellar in production values so you can maybe tell that this album is perhaps not all it could have been, but it still holds a place in my heart as my introduction to a band I would love for the next three decades, and a vocalist whose voice I would never tire of.
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