Soundgarden’s ‘Telephantasm’ great in any format

Soundgarden
Telephantasm
A&M (80014677-00)
Grade:
*****

By Gillian G. Gaar

In the early 21st century, Pearl Jam was the only band from Seattle’s grunge era to still be standing. Then Alice In Chains had a surprising rebirth. And now it’s Soundgarden’s turn. Thirteen years after breaking up, and following two warm up shows and a Lollapalooza appearance in 2010, the band is back with a new album and future shows on the horizon.

“Telephantasm” is available in three formats, and at the very least you’ll want the expanded edition, which has two CDs and the band’s first ever DVD release (the regular edition is a single CD; there’s also a three-LP vinyl edition, and a “Super Deluxe Collector’s Edition” with the two CDs, the three LPs, the DVD, and other goodies). All editions have what Soundgarden themselves said we’d be unlikely to hear — a new song from the band. It shows that time hasn’t dimmed the strength of singer Chris Cornell’s wailing or the lurching power of the band’s music (though there is a cleaner sound, as compared to the band’s early Sub Pop days).

The two CD set has four other tracks previously unavailable on CD: “Flower,” from a 1989 BBC session, the single version of “Room A Thousand Years Wide,” “Pretty Noose” from the band 1996’s Saturday Night Live appearance, and “Blow Up The Outside World,” from a 1996 appearance on MTV’s “Live ‘N’ Loud.” The song selection spans the band’s entire career, from “All Your Lies,” a contribution to the long out of print 1986 Deep Six compilation, through the Sub Pop and SST years, to their arrival at A&M.

The DVD is just as wide ranging, featuring an impressive 20 videos, allowing you to watch the band change from scruffy kids to seasoned professionals. There are a number of rarities as well, including the original version of “Jesus Christ Pose” and uncensored versions of “The Day I Tried To Live,” “Pretty Noose,” and “Blow Up The Outside World,” to mention a few. Overall, it’s a great set any Soundgarden fan will want to add to their collection.


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