Down on the Upside
Engineer: Adam Kasper...
Producer: Adam Kasper; Soundgarden...
Distributor: Universal Distribution
Notes: Soundgarden: Chris Cornell (vocals, guitar, mandolin, mandola, Fender Rhodes electric piano); Kim Thayil (guitar); Ben Shepherd (mandolin, mandola, bass); Matt Cameron (Moog synthesizer, drums, percussion). Additional personnel: Adam Kasper (piano). Recorded at Studio Litho and Bad Animals, Seattle, Washington. "Pretty Noose" was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. Personnel: Chris Cornell (vocals, guitar, mandola, mandolin, piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Kim Thayil (guitar); Ben Shepherd (mandola, mandolin); Adam Kasper (piano); Matt Cameron (Moog synthesizer, drums, percussion). Audio Mixers: Adam Kasper; Soundgarden. Recording information: Auer, Jon; Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, WA; Studio Litho, Seattle, WA. Photographers: Kevin Westenberg; Ben Shepherd. Unknown Contributor Role: John Burton . They still come armed with their trademark guitar rumble and Chris Cornell's bellowing vocals. But once again, as on 1994's SUPERUNKNOWN, Soundgarden use their Led Zeppelin roots and Black Sabbath might as springboards toward melodic structure and instrumental experimentation not normally associated with bands this heavy. DOWN ON THE UPSIDE begins with "Pretty Noose," a swirling magma of guitar tones not unlike those generated by fellow Seattlites Alice In Chains. But Soundgarden avoids the typical grunge ruts. Guitarist Kim Thayil pulls out a mandolin a couple of times; on "Ty Cobb," he begins by noodling innocuously on it but works up to furious soloing. Soundgarden's punk roots show on that song and on "Never Named," but on other tracks the band shows its subtlety. "Applebite," which features drummer Matt Cameron on a Moog synthesizer, is eerie and disembodied. On "Overfloater," Thayil's low-key electric-guitar phrasing and Cornell's electric piano provide billowy tones and dreamy textures before the heavy crunch hits home.
Rolling Stone (5/30/96, pp.45-46) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "...[eschews] innovation for the simpler payoff of just rocking out....While there are plenty of genuinely enjoyable moments throughout the album, their cumulative effect is undercut by the strict adherence to hard-rock form....The outlook remains bleak throughout..." Spin (6/96, p.109) - 8 (out of 10) - "...as sprawling and generous-spirited as SUPERUNKNOWN, but...is a looser and live-er-sounding affair, not seeking the same level of aural precision....There's a new rhythmic tilt in a few songs that suggests the influence of the unjustly maligned '70s boogie tradition..." Entertainment Weekly (5/24/96, pp.95-96) - "...When the band does latch onto a hook,...[Soundgarden] seems to instantly tire of it and contort its melody and tempo. Deviant, yes, but at least Soundgarden are on their musical toes..." - Rating: B+ Alternative Press (8/96, pp.87-88) - 3 (out of 5) - "...they're now fully capable of penning some damned spiffy pop songs....this is a raw, warm....sounding record, high-tech for 1975 and having more to do with tubes than transistors....they sound more human here, like they're playing in your living room..." Melody Maker (5/18/96, p.49) - Recommended - "...[they are] never again going to be the band they used to be....Soundgarden were the band in whose honour Sub Pop were formed, but their roots don't matter now. All I care for now is the immediacy of their pop moments. You're Oasis fans. You understand..." Musician (7/96, pp.85-86) - "...[Cornell's] not a happy camper--and the sadder he gets, the nastier Soundgarden sounds....his bandmates revitalize him with odd instruments..., weird new mixes..., and skewed tempos and dune-shifting melodies that unfold and enfold over repeated spins..." Village Voice (2/25/97) - Ranked #25 in the Village Voice's 1996 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
Although Nirvana and Pearl Jam may have been the most commercially successful bands of the 1990s Seattle movement, Soundgarden was every bit as important and influential. Part Black Sabbath/part Ramones, Soundgarden helped unite both punks and metalheads--one of the first alternative bands to do so. Largely due to vocalist Chris Cornell's signature wail and guitarist Kim Thayil's thunderous riffs, the band gained a huge fanbase by the mid '90s. However, the group called it a day in 1997, with drummer Matt Cameron joining Pearl Jam and Cornell going on to record solo and, with the instrumentalists of Rage Against the Machine, as a member of Audioslave.
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