Album review: Soundgarden, Live on I-5

Posted: March 25, 2011 in Album Reviews

Soundgarden’s comeback is in full flight, and for this longtime fan, I couldn’t be more pumped up about it.
The band announced its reunion with a simple one-sentence statement early last year, and have since played a few shows, released a two-disc career retrospective including a previously unreleased track and hinted about a boxed set of unreleased tracks and rare recordings.
This year, the band headed into the studio for work on its first album of new material since 1996’s Down on the Upside. But before that comes to fruition, they’ve whetted fans’ appetites with the first live album of Soundgarden’s career, Live On I-5, a killer 17-track platter that came out earlier this week.
The album was recorded during a leg of its 1996 tour promoting Upside, and was originally to be released in 1997. However, the band broke up before it could be released, and the live album sat on the shelf for well over a decade.
Live on I-5 captures the band near the peak of its powers and despite the troubles they were experiencing at the time, there is no real hint of disintegration anywhere to be found.
Instead, you get thunderous versions of Soundgarden behemoths like “Outshined,” “Spoonman,” “Jesus Christ Pose,” and “Rusty Cage.” There’s an understated and abridged version of “Black Hole Sun” which packs a punch despite being somewhat muted from the studio original.
A cover of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” morphs into the underrated Upside album closer “Boot Camp” almost seamlessly, and there’s also an aggressive cover of “Search and Destroy” that rolls into the kick-ass “Ty Cobb.”
The playing is top-notch throughout, and it’s certainly a welcome addition to the Soundgarden catalog.

Sod rating: ****


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