In­stant Karma!

ChriS Cor­Nell 1964-2017

UNCUT - - Contents - Casino Royale.

Chris Cor­nell, Robin Le Mesurier, Sleeper, The Blue­tones, Patto, James Elk­ing­ton

Soundgar­den were al­ways the odd band out from the grunge scene: a lit­tle too early, a lit­tle too metal, and a lit­tle too psy­che­delic. But the fac­tor that most dis­tin­guished them from their Seat­tle peers was at the front of the stage, a long-haired bean­pole with a howl that hum­bled a genre of mum­blers.

Chris Cor­nell’s voice may have been more in line with the hard rock and hair metal that grunge sup­pos­edly oblit­er­ated, but swept up in the alt.rock wave it be­came Soundgar­den’s se­cret weapon. While the band’s drop-d power chords and de­pres­sive lyrics caught the zeit­geist, no­body else could come close to the high notes that Cor­nell hit on “Je­sus Christ Pose”, never mind start­ing a song in that im­plau­si­ble reg­is­ter.

at a time when Seat­tle was the cen­tre of mu­si­cal at­ten­tion, few could top Cor­nell’s emer­ald City bonafides. Co-found­ing Soundgar­den – as drum­mer/vo­cal­ist! – in 1984, he was present for most of the scene’s defin­ing mo­ments. Soundgar­den’s “Hunted down”/“noth­ing To Say” 7” was among the first non-com­pi­la­tion re­leases on Sub Pop in 1987. In 1990, Cor­nell formed the retroac­tive su­per­group Tem­ple of The dog, to pay trib­ute to his room­mate, Mother Love Bone singer an­drew Wood. He made a cameo in Cameron Crowe’s scene-cod­i­fy­ing Sin­gles, and wrote songs both with and with­out Soundgar­den for the sound­track – “Sea­sons” in par­tic­u­lar re­veal­ing an acous­tic side not yet ex­pressed in his main gig.

Their 1991 al­bum Bad­mo­torfin­ger broke Soundgar­den on the world stage, though its slow-burn suc­cess also told the story of the time’s chang­ing rock tastes. Be­fore Cobain, Soundgar­den opened for the likes of Skid row and guns n’ roses and were con­sid­ered a brainy strain of metal. af­ter Nev­er­mind, Soundgar­den toured in the mid­dle of the 1992 Lol­la­palooza lineup that de­fined the al­ter­na­tive gen­er­a­tion. even in their new sur­round­ings, they didn’t quite fit the mould, draw­ing fre­quent com­par­isons to then-un­fash­ion­able old-timers Black Sab­bath and Led Zep­pelin.

With 1994’s Su­pe­run­k­nown, Soundgar­den found ra­dio suc­cess in the mid­dle ground be­tween their metal and al­ter­na­tive sides – as sym­bol­ised by Cor­nell’s new short hair. Cor­nell in­creas­ingly took on solo song­writ­ing du­ties, pen­ning the hits “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell on Black days,” and “Spoon­man” him­self. Be­sides bring­ing in pop­pier in­flu­ences and psy­che­delic ef­fects, th­ese songs also found Cor­nell in­hab­it­ing lower oc­taves, los­ing lit­tle of his in­di­vid­u­al­ity while oper­at­ing at gears lower than lac­er­at­ing wail. af­ter one more al­bum (1996’s Down On The

Up­side) moved Soundgar­den even fur­ther from the band’s loud ori­gins, the band split, free­ing up Cor­nell to pur­sue a softer solo ca­reer. Be­sides in­dulging his folkier side, Cor­nell’s four stu­dio al­bums even­tu­ally moved into ex­per­i­ments with drum loops and elec­tron­ics, col­lab­o­rat­ing with hip-hop mega-pro­ducer Tim­ba­land for 2009’s Scream. de­spite lim­ited sales, Cor­nell’s solo work did earn him a role in the ex­clu­sive club of Bond theme per­form­ers, record­ing “You Know My name” for the 2006 se­ries re­boot,

Con­cur­rently, Cor­nell hooked up with three mem­bers of Rage Against the Ma­chine in a mar­riage of con­ve­nience to form Au­dioslave, fus­ing the for­mer’s pipes and moody lyrics with the lat­ter’s rap-rock crunch. greeted by crit­i­cal am­biva­lence, their three lPs nev­er­the­less scratched a ’90s nos­tal­gia itch for many, and the band made some his­tory by play­ing the first con­cert by a uS rock group in Cuba.

over his last few years, Cor­nell had set­tled into the re­union busi­ness, with the in­evitable re­turn of Soundgar­den to tour­ing and record­ing, a brief re­for­ma­tion of tem­ple of the Dog, and even an Au­dioslave one-off at a trump in­au­gu­ra­tion protest in Jan­uary. his mas­sive voice in­tact, if a bit weath­ered, Cor­nell ap­peared to em­brace his grunge sur­vivor sta­tus, oc­ca­sion­ally show­ing up at a Pearl Jam gig to belt out an im­pas­sioned

“I’m goin’ hu­unnngraaayyyyYEAAAAAAHHH.”

As such, his ap­par­ent sui­cide in a Detroit ho­tel room af­ter a Soundgar­den show came as a shock, and car­ried bleak echoes of sim­i­lar early end­ings for Wood, Cobain, and layne Sta­ley – an­other grim Seat­tle con­nec­tion. But in the days that fol­lowed his death, live “Black hole Sun” trib­utes from gN’R, No­rah Jones, and Ryan Adams un­der­scored the breadth of in­flu­ence that Cor­nell left be­hind. the key line – “No-one sings like you any more” – memo­ri­alised a voice that cut across genre as well as it cut through the sludgy morass of ’90s al­ter­na­tive, an oc­tave­leap­ing in­stru­ment that’s an en­dan­gered rock species.

• UN­CUT • AU­GUST 2017

Chris Cor­nell and Tom morello of Au­dioslave at the Trump Anti-in­au­gu­ral ball, Jan­uary 20, 2017

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