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Soundgarden: Live On I-5,
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This review is from: Live On I-5 (Audio CD)
Recorded from the band's 1996 North American tour in support of their last studio effort 'Down On The Upside', 'Live On I-5' is the band's first official live album. It has been widely documented that the band's tenure was coming to an end as a result of internal disputes amongst its members. Well even if that was the case, it certainly doesn't show on here. What 'Live On I-5' successfully captivates is a band sounding cohesive, not one that's falling apart. This is particularly notable on 'Jesus Christ Pose' which shows the band giving it their all until the last note rings out especially Matt Cameron's drumming who plays frantically as if the roof of the venue was about to cave in! Chris Cornell soaring vocals are reminiscent of a certain Robert Plant, placing him as one of rock's greatest vocalist to emerge from the last twenty years. This is evident on the nine minute epic 'Slaves and Bulldozers' where Cornell depicts the rage of a desperate man.
Despite being recorded in different locations, the record naturally flows like a gig. Although the majority of the songs derive from the band's most renowned albums 'Badmotorfinger' and 'Superunknown', you gain a sense that a conscious effort has been made with the running order. That said, there are some unexpected surprises such as a well executed cover of Iggy Pop's 'Search and Destroy' especially as Cornell's voice isn't one you would imagine being compatible with punk. Perhaps it would have been good if some of the songs were substituted for others such as tediously sounding 'Head Down' for 'Get on the Snake' or the pointless rendition of 'Helter Skelter' for 'Superunknown'. Like with any gig, there will be songs which are your favourites and there will be songs which are other people's favourites which is what the band set out to achieve.
Since reforming in January 2010, you could argue that Soundgarden have been cautiously plotting their 'comeback'. Live dates have been very sporadic in America and despite various predictions as to whether the band will tour the UK and European festival circuit, they have yet to reach these shores. In the meantime, 'Live On I-5' will serve fans as an excellent stopgap until they do.