The late 2000’s have been somewhat of a revival period for the famous grunge bands of the earlier 90’s. Pearl Jam got their act together again after a few disappointing efforts, Alice in Chains got over Layne Staley’s unfortunate passing and released a superb comeback album with a new singer, and slightly less renowned names such as Stone Temple Pilots and Blind Melon have reunited after all these years, producing new material. While some of these returns have been rewarding, others made us wish they never happened, or that the group in question could’ve just stuck to touring.
With their reunion this year, Soundgarden is now part of the club, which also means three of the Big Four are in fact back on their feet (obviously, it is doubtful Kurt Cobain will rise from the grave, so we’ll just have to exclude Nirvana from the picture). Rather than picking up the ropes straight away, which we probably should be thankful for (see Stone Temple Pilots
), the band have wisely decided first to start playing again and see how alive the Soundgarden of the 90’s really is before taking any potentially bad decisions. Instead, they now released a retrospective. Enter Telephantasm
With 13 years and 5 albums under their belt, this kind of compilation is certainly in good order. With their Sabbath-esque, gloomy riffs and Chris Cornell’s wailing vocals, Soungarden created a very unique sound, and more than left their mark on Seattle. The only other compilation we’ve seen from the band is A-Sides
, released just after their initial break-up, and with a reunion after more than ten years, this one ties in nicely with potential new fans.
The regular edition is aimed at this audience specifically. Of its twelve tracks, nine were singles, four of those coming off the band’s most known work Superunknown
. With one track from their debut EP Screaming Life
), another that was featured on a grunge compilation but never actually on any of the band’s albums (Birth Ritual
), and a decent outtake from the Badmotorfinger
sessions (the new single Black Rain
), there is little new offered. Seeing how A-Sides
contains almost all of what’s offered on this edition already, the track selection of the standard package feels slightly sub-par.
Luckily, the 2-CD/DVD deluxe edition has got more interesting material to offer. Aside from the much-required Soundgarden classics Jesus Christ Pose
and Room a Thousand Years Wide
, it also features some rarer live takes and lesser known studio material, making this compilation actually worthy of the term ‘retrospective’.
It is therefore highly advised to, if you are considering getting this album, to stick with the deluxe edition, or avoid it altogether. The experience is a lot richer, and is no doubt the best way to be introduced to this classic grunge band. As for Soundgarden's future, only time will tell whether the band will go as far as to release a fully new studio album, and whether that kind of scenario that might turn into. For now, this will have to do.
Regular Edition: 2.5/5
Deluxe Edition: 3.5/5