Monday, July 09, 2007

Louder than Live

Because it takes time and effort to digitize old vinyl, we’ve been tending lately to favor some of the more obscure records in our collection. Thus, we admit that we’ve been sitting on this one for a while: Soundgarden’s Louder Than Live, which I digitized late last year and which I’ve been wanting to post for quite some time. Because bootleggers seized on this one almost immediately upon its (very limited) release, one used to be able to find it reasonably easy at less scrupulous record stores and mail order vendors.

The Unofficial Soundgarden homepage gives the record’s history. In brief, A&M released the video of the same title to promote Louder Than Love, Soundgarden’s (fantastic) major label debut. The video contained five live songs plus the regular videos for “Hands All Over” and “Loud Love.” A&M simultaneously released a 12” vinyl version that added “Beyond the Wheel” and a CD that added “Beyond the Wheel” and “Hunted Down.” I have a booted version of the CD, although the bootleggers clearly used the 12” version to reference the track listing, as it contains an uncredited “Hunted Down.”

I owned the video at one point, too, and to be honest, I didn’t love it. The performances—from December 7th and 10th 1989 at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles, with short-term member Jason Everman on bass—are fine enough, but the camera fades in and out constantly and never stays at a single perspective for more than a few seconds. I think I would have preferred a straightforward video of the band over this collage. Perhaps its best appreciated as background viewing while you shirtlessly dust your furniture.

Performance of "Loud Love" from the same era but a different source.

As far as the songs? The performance epitomizes Soundgarden at their shambolic, pasty, sludgy, heavy best. The guitars don’t stay in tune, and Chris Cornell struggles to hit the high notes (especially when he’s also playing guitar). Somehow, though, they seem titanic, forcing their disparate elements (Led Zeppelin, the Melvins, a philosophy degree, rainy weather, shirtlessness, Sabbath, duct tape) to cohere by virtue of volume and carnal energy. Cornell later became a bona fide, mainstream sex symbol and rock star, and I have mixed (generally negative) feelings about his output since the early 90s, but at the time? As the t-shirt said, Total. Fucking. Godhead.

Beyond the Wheel
Get on the Snake
Hunted Down
I Awake
Gun
Big Dumb Sex
Big Bottom/Earache My Eye

For some reason, MediaMax is taking an eternity to process the invidual mp3s, so for the time being, you'll have to download the .zip file to hear 'em.

4 comments:

matthew said...

big soundgarden fan. I was lucky enough to find a copy of louder than live when videos were still in stores...I think its one of the most hilariously shot (or perhaps, edited) concert videos ever. I recall "Gun" having especially funny rapid-cuts during the fast part. Louder than Love is a funny (in a good way) record though, so it kinda fits.

Caryn said...

i have the infamous duct tape version of the cd - i chased that for years, finally got it at a seattle center record fair, eons ago - or out at some record store in woodinville? don't remember. still have it. irrationally wouldn't part with it for anything.

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