Classic Albums

CA31 Soundgarden – Down On The Upside (Part 2)

For the second part of our double Classic Album series podcast we take a look at the follow up to Soundgarden’s monolithic Superunknown; 1996’s Down on the Upside. Whilst grunge was in its commercial pomp back when their previous album was released, it’s a very different story in this part of the story. In the aftermath of Kurt Cobain’s death, and with pop-punk and Brit-pop the new fashionable genres to name check, Soundgarden were sitting ducks in 1996 purely for the crime of coming from Seattle.

We look at the build up to the record, and the effect that the disintegration of the Seattle scene had on the band, before tackling the album itself and then looking at the, frankly fucking embarrassing reaction from a sneering, lazy music press to the album. But, it matters not, because 25 years after the release of Down on the Upside the songs on the record still stand up as some of their best, and definitely most underrated work.

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Classic Albums

CA31 Soundgarden – Superunknown (Part 1)

We’ve resisted covering some BIG albums on Classic Albums over the year or so that we’ve been putting these out but one area we simply couldn’t resist dipping our toe into any longer was the Seattle Grunge (not a genre) scene. And in typical Riot Act fashion, we start with an album which is about as far away from the ‘typical’ grunge sound as you can get.

In this first part of a two part special, we look back at Superunknown, the 4th (or 5th) album by Soundgarden. Remfry leads the chat and states his case for Superunknown being not only an undeniable classic but pretty much one of the best records of all time (and there’s little disagreement from Steve). Released on 8th March 1994, Superunknown was an expansive, experimental smorgasbord of sound that explored a rich tapestry of psychedelia, stoner rock, crooner vocals and doom-laden riffs, an album which takes a Black Sabbath mixed with The Beatles approach as its starting point(!) and twists that idea into ever more exploratory and fascinating territory.

Universally lauded upon its release, Superunknown was released at a strange time for the scene that the band had sprung from. As George Garner put it so eloquently in his retrospective feature on the album for Kerrang!, “Soundgarden were the first of the big grunge acts to sprout and yet the last to bloom.” This had advantages and disadvantages and with the death of Kurt Cobain exactly 4 weeks after Superunknown was released, the tide was beginning to turn in the press and audience’s interests. But Soundgarden easily transcended the term grunge for those who weren’t blinded by trends and Superunknown is a rich banquet of delights which will endure forever.

Riot Act

64 – Talk Talk Bingo

Remfry is away this week, mucking about in Europe. But Riot Act rolls on regardless. Stephen is joined by long time buddy and RA comrade Matt Stocks to review new releases from Foals, Ocean Wisdom and Elbow. Matt brings Against Me’s classic major label debut New Wave in for the first ever one sided trade off. And the boys chat Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees, Robb Flynn kicking off on instagram and Matt’s recent interview with Jaz Coleman from Killing Joke. Plus Steve compares everyone to Talk Talk. As usual.

Listen: iTunes / Spotify / Soundcloud