Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Screaming Life / Fopp
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on April 21, 2005
....at least in the case for Soundgarden, who made their music debut with "Screaming Life/FOPP" in 1987. Gosh, how long ago does that time seem? Long before Grunge-Music was established as the popular alternative-rock stuff that many different types of people love and could relate to. At the time, I'm sure Soundgarden (like most other artists starting out on their career path) had no idea where this little ditty would lead. As a longtime fan of the band, I can say with complete confidence that I'm glad this disc has landed in my hands! I enjoy every track enormously, but probably "Nothing To Say" and "Hunted Down" would classify as a tie between the title of 'Favorite Album Track.'

On the surface, one could look at this album as an extended demo. The band clearly had a flair from the outset for producing great guitar/bass riffs and solos, plus phenomenally moving vocals. What I heard here not only shows the greatness that would follow in the years and albums ahead, but also stands there as a fine monument to a great piece of work on its own. All the tracks flow together nicely, and there is alot of time on each track for just instrumental jamming (which allows the listener to drift off into energized meditation). I like the fact that the lyrical content was not altogether deep, because truly the SOUND of Soundgarden is what makes them who they are. The band creates an almost water-color-painting feel of harmony with each tune they play. One may not understand the full lyrical meaning behind the action, but they will love the action itself as fun and uplifting. This album makes you want to run around and dance (perfect to play when exercising).

Surprisingly, I find myself enjoying it alot more than their other LPs (which is not to say the rest of the classic stuff doesn't have staying power on its own, because it certainly does). For a "new" group on the Seattle music scene, Soundgarden sounds incredibly polished and gifted with their introduction EP. And what I admire the most is what they would later release is not that far removed from their beginning roots (that shows true artistic sensibility and truthfulness to the work).

I give "Screaming Life/FOPP" 5 stars easy and would raise the bar if I could. If you are a fan of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell or Audioslave or just heavy rock fans in general with powerhouse playing and singing, I would urge you to pick up this great item and add it your everyday listening life. One can hear the Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin roots, but also 70s hard rock too (like Alice Cooper) in this disc. I assure you that you won't be disappointed, and once the disc is done playing you will have a smile on your face and will gladly press the start button again .... ENJOY!!
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on November 23, 2003
No matter what anyone says, this is an absolutely awesome record, especially considering it's the first record Soundgarden put out. Screaming Life is clearly the highlight of the two EPs, so I'll talk about that first.
A lot of people insult the scratchy, almost "ghetto" sound of the songs on this record, but if you bought it on vinyl, you'd know that that's just a result of the cd not being digitally remastered. You CAN'T hold that against the band. What's left beneath that is some absolutely gorgeous music. Nothing to Say, Hunted Down, and Entering are some of the best Soundgarden songs ever written, and in my opinion, some of the best rock songs ever written. In those songs there is undeniable skill from all sides--vocals, drums, bass, and guitar. What more could you ask for?
Now the Fopp EP...Soundgarden had this tendency to make fun of things via imitation, but then at the end it looked like they were serious (take "Big Dumb Sex" on Louder than Love for example). Fopp is the same way...it's a joke. Swallow My Pride, on the other hand, is a classic grunge song, written by Green River. Half of the bands that matter have covered it, so it's only proper that Soundgarden did too.
In all fairness, I can see why some "Soungarden fans" don't like this. But if you fall in that category, take a step back and acknowledge that you're just a casual Soungarden listener, because any real fan knows that this record is genuine, unfiltered Soundgarden. Maybe you should go give Audioslave a shot instead.
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on November 7, 2003
The first half of this CD (Screaming Life EP) is ideal early Soundgarden--a little rough around the edges, but it has some good metal tracks ("Hand of God" has some of the best guitar solos) and trademark Chris Cornell wailing, like in "Entering," "Tears to Forget," and "Nothing to Say," though the middle song sounds more like AC/DC. However, the remaining half of this CD (Fopp EP) is pretty short and skippable, though "Fopp" is an unexpectedly fun song, both versions. Even though "Screaming Life/Fopp" is one of my least listened to Soundgarden CDs, it's still worth checking out if you're a diehard Soundgarden fan.
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on May 26, 2013
I bought this CD around 1996 in a small used cd store in Alaska. I thought it was great and had never seen it around. I am a big soundgarden fan and of course growing up in my late teens during the grunge era, this was my kind of music.

I went to see Chris Cornell perform at a small club in PA called the Grape Street Pub. It was an invitation only gig with about 50 people only. Folding chairs only, five feet from the stage, room about 25 ft deep.... The show was great getting to listen to Chris play the songs acoustically right in front of me!

Afterward there was an autograph session. I brought my cd (screaming life/fopp) with me in hope he would sign it. When I got to the table where he was signing I said hello and handed him this cd. His jaw dropped and he asked where did I get this. I told himn the story and he took the paperwork out of the cd to read it through thoroughly. He said this was a very important cd to him and he couldn't believe he was seeing it again. He said he really couldn't believe how young he was when he made this. Then he signed the front cover with a silver paint pen and a picture to complete the deal!!

I thought that was really cool to bring him something like that!!!

So enjoy this cd everyone, I know Chris does!!
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on December 27, 2011
Seattle was in the middle of the genesis of the grunge movement by the late '80's when one of its vanguard bands, Soundgarden, released their debut EP, `Screaming Life' in the fall of 1987. All of the elements of the band's future success are here on this and on the quick follow up `Fopp' released in early `88. The familiar banshee wail of Chris Cornell is already evident as the band combined the DIY punk/hardcore esthetic of the decade with traditional heavy metal elements from Sabbath and Zeppelin. "Hunted Down" could be considered among the very first Soundgarden songs and is only disappointing in its brevity though the elements of doom still permeate. "Nothing to Say" and "Hand of God" (based on an old recording of a preacher from the `50's) are two further highlights from the first EP. `Fopp' is much shorter and contains two covers (Mudhoney and the Ohio Players) and in that sense it is less impactful but taken with `Screaming Life', it is part of a strong compilation. A must have for anyone who is into both Soundgarden and the early Seattle scene - `Screaming Life/Fopp' shows how a band that would command great attention during the `alternative' `90's sounding like within the environs of a burgeoning independent scene that would have tremendous international impact within 3 to 4 short years.
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on November 9, 2001
People heap a lot of manure on early Soundgarden, and for me it isn't justified. The music in real need of a good kick up the proverbial is that of the Pixies and more significantly Nirvana, who only really acheived cult status because of the never the less tragic death of Kurt Cobain.
For a debut EP, as the cliche goes, this really isn't all that bad. To someone elses ears, I hope. But to me, it is absolutely amazing. Soundgarden were obviously four men with a lot of anger inside them, and they really let it out, allowing for the darker, brooding yet equally great work on UltraMegaOK. From the pounding distortion of Hunted Down, onto the frenetic, blistering punk of Entering and Tears to Forget, the first three songs of Screaming Life allow Soundgarden to get a lot of their stomachs, whether it be in Cornells raging but coherent lyrics, Thayils aggressive but dexterous guitar work, or Camerons powerful and inventive drumming. Then comes the atmospheric heaviness of Nothing to Say, and one of the most interesting rhythms I've ever come across as a drummer, combined with the intricate guitar solo and almost narrative vocal style of Little Joe. The frenetic and scratchy rhythmic guitar and lyrics of Hand of God bring the first EP to a regrettable end, as then three cover versions overshadow the twisty pyscho-delia of Kingdom of Come.
Some may critise the lack of variety of this album, but surely when you compare it to 'Nu Metal' you have to admit that at least Soundgarden displayed genuine attitude and defiance, and the lyrics are cerebral at the same time as being angry. What it may lack in melodic structure, it makes up for in atmosphere, and you can hardly claim that Soundgarden were just a mere 4 chord band.
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on July 3, 2004
Perhaps not the ideal release for those who are yet uninitiated with Soundgarden, in my opinion the best band to emerge from the Seattle crucible in the late 80s/early 90s, but nonetheless a worthwhile purchase given the price. Seemingly against the grain of opinion from earlier reviews, I prefer the Fopp EP over Screaming Life - Fopp itself being one of my favourite Soundgarden songs and criminally left off the 'A-sides' compilation (which is puzzling given the fact that it was an A-side track, though the A-side 'My Wave' from superunknown was treated similarly).
If you are new to Soundgarden, then I suggest you begin with 'A-sides' or, if like me you are averse to buying greatest hits albums, then Superunknown. If you own all the other albums and are are still passionate about the music, for the price Screaming Life/Fopp is a worthwhile purchase.
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I have to admit, while the whole album is easily a great listen for the die hard Soundgarden fan (like, you have to have them in your top five or ten, especially if you listen to a lot of music), people who aren't (even people who, say, dug Soundgarden but were more fans of Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains, for example) probably won't get that much out of it. Nothing wrong with that, but keep that in mind when listening to this album. It definitely documents the sound of a band developing, and while this is a great album for any Soundgarden fan, this is definitely not for anybody who liked the band for only Black Hole Sun (which is still an awesome song no matter how popular it was, but I digress).

Anyway, Screaming Life/Fopp probably needs no introduction, but it's basically a compilation of Soundgarden's first two extended plays, with the bulk of original and early (Fopp has only one original track, although the remix is arguably a new )Soundgarden material being on Screaming Life. Basically, Screaming Life is the first material they ever recorded as a band, anything earlier is probably on an eight track or cassette format buried in somebody's old basement. The second album features one original song, a cover of Green River's Swallow My Pride and The Ohio Player's Fopp, and a remix of Fopp. Some people like Screaming Life better, but I prefer Fopp. Anyway, here's an in depth look (Warning: Might be long, so skip till the end if you don't want to read it) at the EP.

The Screaming Life EP is among the first grunge records, and this is where Soundgarden had the grunge sound. Grimy, dirty guitars, a heavy dose of raw punk rock, wailing, sneering vocals from Cornell, and touches of molten metal, this is Soundgarden as real grunge, why they are pioneers. However, though, it still has some experimentation, unique guitar sound, and Cameron's unique style of play, and it only got even more developed from here. Screaming Life isn't certainly perfect, and the only got better from here. There's some meandering here, some of the musical ideas don't really work, and some of the tracks here have some pretty tuneless or grating moments (Tears to Forget in particular is bad). But I have to admit, despite some of it's shortcomings, it has some powerful, unique, and rocking music. As a bonus, the production value does not interfere at all with the music, as it doesn't make the record sound clinical or tinny, as it did with Louder than Love and at periods of Ultramega OK (especially the former).

Hunted Down, the first Soundgarden single, is one of the best early Soundgarden songs. A howling and dirty guitar riff, odd oceanic segues of guitar noise, and Cornell's preying vocals, it's one of the best early Soundgarden songs. Entering is _________ awesome. It's searing, dirty, and rising guitars give way to, and all of the noises that came out of the guitar are amazing and prove that Sonic Youth wasn't the only rock band that could make a sound scape of guitar noise. It explodes into pure craziness, and if you aren't spazzing out, check your pulse. Screaming Life takes a quick dive with Tears to Forget, which is an decent punk tune musically but slaughtered by Cornell's awful attempt at trying to sound like King Diamond mixed with Brian Johnson, or something, and it's just absolutely grating. Luckily, at least we have Circle of Power xD.

Nothing to Say is another song from Screaming Life that is considered to be one of their best songs, and you can hear it. I used to think it was average song. Now, I think it's terrific. Heavy, ethereal, and, with amazing vocals, Nothing To Say is sounds like Black Sabbath playing in the midst of the Earth's Core. Truly awesome. Little Joe is odd, and it certainly won't appeal to anyone. But the more I listen to it, the more I like it. I love it's sunlight tinged riffs, all of the unique guitar sounds throughout the song, it's shuffle beat, it's funky bass line segues, and it's overall mood matches the lyrical content perfectly. Cornell's shrieking here is oddly poetic, and the more you listen to it, the more melodic and unique it gets. Yeah, it will annoy all but five percent of the population in the world, but I'm glad to be in that five percentage. Love it.

Unfortunately, I have to say that the EP ends on a weak note with Hand of God, which was OK but mostly a messy, aimless mess of grungy guitars, wailing vocals, and sounded overall pretty tuneless. Overall though, Screaming Life is a listenable and interesting look at what Soundgarden started out as, and just about any Soundgarden fan would love this.

The second album Fopp, is better than Screaming Life, even though most of them are covers. The good news about this though, is that they are covers by Soundgarden. The original track, though, called Kingdom of Come, I like a lot. An almost shambolic, 70's classic rock Boogie, crossed with the trademark dirty guitars and punk feel of Grunge, it's definitely one of my favorite early Soundgarden songs, and probably the best original Soundgarden song on the disc. Also comes with a unique guitar solo you would expect from Soundgarden. No complaints here.

The highlight, however, are the covers. When Soundgarden does a cover, I always get excited, and both covers here are even better than the originals. I love Green River and the original Swallow my Pride, but the cover of Swallow my Pride blows away the original. The guitars are dirtier, the add Cameron's jazz influence rhythms to the song, and Cornell's is better than the female vocals and Mark Arms vocals (who also has a great voice, don't get me wrong), fitting the song like a glove. The original, in comparison, just isn't as good, which should really tell you something as to how good the cover is.

Fopp, however, is the highlight of the EP, and it blows away the original. It's one of Soundgarden's best early songs, and it's pretty much rock bliss. With catchy, dirty funk guitar, brassy horns that come in the right time, and funky, pounding drums with a rock edge, it's an excellent rendition of a great song, and definitely one of the most underrated Soundgarden songs ever (oh heck, just about everything on this is underrated). Cornell's voice is in top form here, soulful, funky, and not a crack or false note anywhere. The remix of Fopp is also awesome and funky, well, you just have to hear what they add and remix. Really cool. Overall, there's not a bad song on the whole Fopp EP.

No, this is not my favorite Soundgarden record. It has more historical interest than it does pure musical interest, nor is it the best example of Grunge when it was a new, fresh genre. If you want the best example of Grunge when it really was Grunge (I just think the explosion and the bands involved transcended the genre barrier), Green River was more focused at this stage than all the others (including SG), so I think their compilation Dry As a Bone / Rehab Doll is the most musically and emotionally rocking album that best portrays the Seattle Grunge scene. Still though, there's tons of great work and interesting listens that await in Soundgarden's first records, so Soundgarden fans will naturally enjoy listening to the roots of one of their favorite rock bands. So don't overlook this keepsake of one of America's greatest rock bands.
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on April 2, 2013
I really love Soundgarden's latest CD but I saw this CD on Amazon and decided to give it a try. It is comprised of a couple of early EP's that were released by SubPop and I really love it. if you're an occasional fan of Soundgarden, maybe this isn't for you but I want all the Soundgarden and Chris Cornell Music I can get my hands on. Great Delivery and Packaging to go along with the great appreciation of a young Soundgarden.
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on September 28, 2013
Then buy this.

Seriously.

If you've gone through Superunknown, Badmotorfinger, and Down on the Upside, get this.

And Ultramega OK.

Because if you're not a huge fan, you won't get it.

But if you love this band, you'll love this CD.

This is (besides Ultramega OK) the best representation of Soundgarden's serious side AND hilarious side.

The only (KINDA) bad part is, take any of their best songs, downgrade the musical and lyrical creativity, and Cornell's voice, and you've got this CD.

But that's not bad. At all.

What you have here is the one-celled amoeba in the evolutionary line of one of the greatest bands in........a VERY long time.

Get it. Have fun.

And most importantly.

ROCK ON.
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