Soundgarden
Live on I-5


1.5
very poor

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
July 4th, 2011 | 32 replies | 7,829 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A poor facsimile of what, I’m sure, were a series of excellent live shows.

I’ve always had a deep-seated distrust of live albums. What I mean is that I find them to be a base betrayal of an avid music-listener’s strongest proclivities. Like a team of well-trained predators, these albums track down and prey on our biggest weakness: the desire for all things Band X. The constant presence of a faceless gaggle of hoarse and delirious individuals in the songs’ background (apparently having the time of their lives at some rather impersonal venue), followed by a few slight changes in the vocalist’s tones and pitch on the night, is often conflated with being an improvement on the original studio recording. The few bars of random guitar doodling at the end of a few songs are also presented as the ultimate rubber stamp of authenticity – like a particularly eloquent “wish you were here” postcard. The more one listens to Soundgarden’s Live on I-5, the more one sees these elements unfurl. Live on I-5 is a near inch-perfect reminder of why these shoddy excuses for an album should, nine times out of ten, be ignored completely.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: this particular record isn’t even a recording of a single concert. It is instead a (very well) stitched together compendium of tracks which were performed live by Soundgarden in late 1996 at various locations across North America. So why are those song segues are so smooth, then? Although Soundgarden can hardly be accused of mugging their fans, Live on I-5 still does present a band that is more than willing to play up the idea of this being the perfect live show. All the hits, no holds barred, prime-time four on the floor. It is an understandably safe set-up that probably would have worked - had the performances themselves not been so woefully uninspired. Take, for instance, album opener “Spoonman”, which is completely laid to waste by the many superior renditions that one can easily find on YouTube or on innumerable other bootleg sites. There is not a shred of raw life in this particular version, nor any colour or energy; much less audacity. Unfortunately, the following quintet of songs is much worse. Save for the (merciful) editing out of the bizarre animal farm tour at the beginning of “Searching With My Good Eye Closed”, none of the cuts are meaningfully different from their original studio versions found on the excellent Badmotorfinger and Superunknown. The biggest criminal here is none other than “Head Down”, where the whole band sounds like they were made to play through the auditory equivalent of thick mud.

Indeed, it’s a sure sign that something’s amiss when the best cut available on the first half of the album is none other than a cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”. The textured chaos of this clangorous piece fits Kim Thayil’s raucous guitar bites particularly well, and with vocalist Chris Cornell succeeding in his attempt to sound right damned and dirty on the microphone, the corpse does manage to jerk a little. But one good song does not a good album make, particularly as things go spiraling down again from there on end. None of the Down On The Upside live cuts manage to make a decent impression, and it’s not until “Black Hole Sun” makes a belated appearance does the album again show some signs of life. Although it soon transpires that the best had been saved for last – the groovy whup-whup of “Jesus Christ Pose” is preserved in all its helicopter-blade glory – it is a classic case of too little, too late. Soundgarden will have to release much better material than this if they want to return to the fold after a fourteen year absence.



Recent reviews by this author
Caleb McAlpine All Things NewAngel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Eternal Summers The Drop BeneathBlood Orange Cupid Deluxe
Yuna NocturnalGhost Avenue Ghost Avenue
user ratings (39)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

#49. The next one should make me Romulus' favourite user ever.

Comments and criticism would - as always - be much appreciated.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2011



6734 Comments


I never knew you disliked live recordings/efforts. Regardless this is a good read. Pos Mr. Ving

Parallels
July 4th 2011



6640 Comments


yay! proof that not all live records are overrated.
not implying this is underrated
I haven't really heard this band much, but good review.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks for the kind words guys, much appreciated.

Yeah I kinda distrust live albums. The only one I've heard which I've really liked is Is There Anybody Out There - The Wall Live by the Floyd. THAT, in my opinion, was immensely superior to an incredibly tepid and dull original *braces self for flaming*.


Chrisjon89
July 4th 2011



2964 Comments


"Yeah I kinda distrust live albums."

I would have mostly agreed with this sentiment until I started listening to jazz/got Bjork's 'Vespertine Live'. Good review though.

Digging: Elizabeth Rose - Elizabeth Rose

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2011



23643 Comments


yesssssss 49

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

In other news, I actually reviewed this album in anticipation of my catching Soundgarden live in Ottawa tomorrow evening. I can only hope that the band is much better in person lol.

@ Aids: Yeah I'm kinda pumped to write it too =)

MrGunslinger
July 4th 2011



267 Comments


Happy 4th of july

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I should have reviewed a super-American album for the occasion.

MrGunslinger
July 4th 2011



267 Comments


Sacred Reich - The American Way

do it do it do it

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Nothing doing. Got something else planned for my 50th ;)

MrGunslinger
July 4th 2011



267 Comments


fuck no not that shit do a true rock album

SowingSeason
Emeritus
July 4th 2011



14511 Comments


sweet review, pos. a live album has to be amazing for me to buy it, and this sucks

i am eagerly awaiting review #50. may it be epic.

Tyrael
July 4th 2011



20394 Comments


Irving's 50th is gonna be the best piece of work ever written.

Word. Nice review Irving.



Digging: Lantlos - Melting Sun

Puzzles
July 4th 2011



3065 Comments


Pretty good review man, could have used less mindless linguistic wankery though. I do like this a little more than you. Granted, I don't love it. Pos'd.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Very good review. I think your rating is a little harsh but I agree that this is a pretty average live album.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Pretty good review man, could have used less mindless linguistic wankery though.

Although I wouldn't exactly call it "mindless", I do see what you mean. Using cool words while not sounding like a total douche is a skill that I'm still trying to get a hang of.

But thanks for all the kind words (and pos votes) guys. It means a lot to me. Also, it's really heart-warming to see how you guys are apparently really looking forward to #50 haha. I'll try my best to live up to the hype.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Oh, and Ali:

I think your rating is a little harsh but I agree that this is a pretty average live album.

True - I was quite harsh on the band. In all honesty, this really could have sat anywhere between a 1.5 and a 3.0; I just decided to go with the lower end of the spectrum because...I fucking hate live albums. LOL.

DoubtGin
July 4th 2011



6686 Comments


ummno

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Ed Hardy bikinis though.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy