Temple of the Dog

Picture of Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog - Temple of the Dog ©1991 A&M
1. Say Hello 2 Heaven
2. Reach Down
3. Hunger Strike
4. Pushin Forward Back
5. Call Me a Dog
6. Times of Trouble
7. Wooden Jesus
8. Your Saviour
9. Four Walled World
10. All Night Thing

Borne of tragedy and inspired by the untimely death of Andrew Wood, Temple of the Dog was initially meant to be a tribute to a lost friend by his former bandmates and buddies. As it turns out, this effort became a supergroup of sorts and happened to be released just before the grunge movement roared out of Seattle into the mainstream of focus of the rest of the planet (excluding parts of Antarctica and anywhere glam metal fans tightly hung onto their spandex). The album just so happened to be a collaboration between Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, both of whom were soaring to the top of the charts a few months after the side project had been released. Great success followed.

Although the story has been told a hundred thousand times, Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990, just as that band was seemingly poised to step into the mainstream. The remaining members of that band regrouped as Pearl Jam, digging up singer Eddie Vedder. No doubt highly informed music fans will recall Pearl Jam just so happened to be one of the biggest bands of the 90s. Meanwhile, Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, a roommate and good friend of Wood, was so moved and inspired by his friend's untimely death that he wrote a couple songs in tribute ("Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down") and decided to get various Soundgarden and Pearl Jam members involved to record them. The recording sessions were fleshed out with some more of Cornell's various demo songs being fleshed out into full songs. The resulting album was released in the spring of 1991 with minimal fanfare. It was only after Pearl Jam caught on a year later that the Temple of the Dog album got more attention, resulting in the well known single "Hunger Strike".

In general, Temple of the Dog represents a far more introspective and bluesier, thoughtful aspect of these grunge musicians. Rather than some of the more chaotic shrieking Soundgarden fans might be familiar with, Chris Cornell offers up one of his best vocal performances throughout this album. Granted, it was probably Eddie Vedder's backing vocals in "Hunger Strike" that got everyone's attention, but that's no reason to overlook Cornell's achievements. Nor should anyone overlook the rest of the band's performances. The playing is loose and feels very organic and unforced. Despite the fact this was just a side project to help everyone cope with the loss of their friend, it sounds as though these guys had been playing together for ages, not just weekends in a practice space. Most importantly, these songs are consistently good, if not great. Even nearly twenty years later, Temple of the Dog does not sound dated nor does it have any grunge stereotypes that might otherwise restrict its listenability.

No doubt most anyone who was of listening age in the early 90s remembers this album and at the very least, its associated singles. Whether or not you might have gotten burnt out on the whole "Seattle" thing, it needs stated that Temple of the Dog is easily one of the finest albums to come out of that particular scene. It's certainly my favorite album featuring Chris Cornell. It may have been meant as a tribute to a lost friend, but ultimately it turned out to be a truly great effort and is an album that deserves lasting praise.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2010

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