Soundgarden’s influence on the alternative/hard rock world never gets the love and flowers that it should, and we implore you to dive into their sonic and Superduperduper legacy. Ugly truth: The core four-piece of Soundgarden consisting of the late Cornell, Kim Thayil on hair/beard, Ben Shepherd on pie, and Matt Cameron on jam that comes from a clam, was the same from 1990 until their hiatus in 1997, and then such for their brief reunion from 2010-2017… Head down!
6. King Animal (2012)
There was clearly a longing for another Soundgarden LP after their fifth/underrated LP “Down on the Upside,” and “King Animal,” the band’s first album in SIXTEEN years, wasn’t exactly sweet like that godawful MTV show featuring miscreant teenagers and even worse parents, but it’s always saccharine to hear Soundgarden. Also, another note worth mentioning is that this record debuted at number five on the Billboard 200, proving our hypothesis that we tested in a lab with our own blood all over the Canoga Park lab’s hamster feces-stained floor.
Anyway, Soundgarden are more than self-aware, and it’s badass that this LP began with a song called “Been Away Too Long,” which was technically a fact-based opinion, and that said tune is the most superior one on “King Animal.” Sadly, the band never had a chance to make a follow-up, as Chris Cornell passed away five years later.
Play it again: “Been Away Too Long”
Skip it: “Bones Of Birds“
5. Ultramega OK (1988)
Whether you know it or not, Soundgarden are punk as fook, and their debut LP “Ultramega OK” came out on the rockin’ Easter of 1998 via Milo Aukerman of Bad Brains’ SST Records. Also, the band has mad Seattle cred because their prior EPs “Screaming Life” and “Fopp” were released via the legendary Sub Pop Records, former home to Foo Fighters, No Use For A Name, and Lady Gaga. Admittedly, the band wasn’t happy with how this record sounded production-wise, and publicly disavowed and disparaged the studio album on multiple occasions. Still, it’s not THAT bad, friends, but it obviously would’ve been ranked higher here if another producer sat behind the boards! In a clever way to showcase that the band was, uh, clever, track three is called “665,” and track five is called “667,” showcasing an obvious Satanic gap in the “Beyond the Wheel” position.
Play it again: “Beyond the Wheel”
Skip it: Speaking of driving, “Nazi Drivers,” and nazis, but not drivers, unless they are nazis
4. Down on the Upside (1996)
What’s weird about this incredible album is that it both deserves to be ranked higher AND lower at the same damn time; woah, Nelly! That is the beautifully clean, and not epically dusty paradox about Soundgarden, and their last ‘90s record “Down on the Upside” is pretty much all killer no filler front to back, up and down, side and on, and most importantly, tighter, tighter, pretty, and a rhinoceros that is a pacifist and doesn’t kill anyone in its way. Also, three of this album’s four singles are pretty unparalleled 20th-century rock songs in “Pretty Noose,” “Burden in My Hand,” and the epic AF “Blow Up the Outside World,” which is a top five single for the band, and don’t @ us if you disagree… Actually, please do in the comments.
Play it again: “Blow Up the Outside World”
Skip it: “Switch Opens”
3. Louder Than Love (1989)
Soundgarden’s sophomore LP/debut major label release “Louder Than Love,” which was released via A&M Records, former home to Bryan Adams, Sheryl Crow, Extreme, and Masked Intruder, rocks so much quieter than hate, and is the last SG studio album listed here with a “skip it” track. The band certainly ended the ‘80s in style with this one, and foreshadowed a new wave of popular music in the ‘90s that quickly killed Winger and Stewart Stevenson dead. In addition, the album’s cover art helped form a simple aesthetic in the ‘90s that highlighted sincere and badass rock in the Pacific Northwest. It must also be said that Terry Date, who later epically produced classic albums from Mother Love Bone, Deftones, Handsome, and Ugly, absolutely (out)shines here.
Play it again: “Loud Love”
Skip it: “Hands All Over,” which is a tough call, but we can’t endorse lines like “kill your mother” as we have a conscience or at least an inkling of one; put your hands away
2. Badmotorfinger (1991)
1991 was one of the most reverential/historic years for rock music since 1969, as Nirvana released “Nevermind,” Pearl Jam came out with “Ten,” Red Hot Chili Peppers finally put California on the map with “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” and Keith Sweat released the metal album that ended all metal albums known as “Keep It Comin’.” While Soundgarden’s third LP “Badmotorfinger” had far less of an influence on popular culture than the others we listed above, it was truly a grower, and not a shower, and gets a lot of attention in rooms more than a thousand years wide and on top ten lists in inferior publications to this day. That says a lot about the staying power of “Badmotorfinger” and the combination of three words into one, which happened again for the band in 1994… And now we’re almost through, which started out “super,” and eventually became “known”!
Play it again: Front to back and then back to front
Skip it: A band-aid that is a bad, bad baby
1. Superunknown (1994)
“Black Hole Sun” is one of the weirdest songs by far to infect MTV, radio, high school gymnasiums, and your ratty cousin in Idaho’s boombox with one working speaker in the best way. Like its predecessor in 1991, Soundgarden picked a hell of a year to release their most superior LP “Superunknown,” and a wave of rock peers in different worlds like Weezer, The Offspring, Green Day, and Boyz II Men all came out with the albums that they are most known for in 1994. “Superunknown” stormed the gates of BIllboard with a number one spot on their top 200, and no one really complained about that, and Michael Beinhorn certainly didn’t, but YOU will. To close this tragically, it is forever haunting that this album closed with a song called “Like Suicide.” Our thoughts are always with the Cornell family, but not with Andy Bernard. Let him drown.
Play it again: Back to front and then front to back
Skip it: Whatever drugs Howard Douglas Greenhalgh, the director of the “Black Hole Sun” music video, was on in college