35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
An album of near perfection, say hello to heaven...,
This review is from: Temple Of The Dog (Audio CD)
Temple Of The Dog (1991.), the first and only release from the Temple Of The Dog grunge supergroup
One of the most intriguing questions when looking back at the alternative rock `grunge' explosion in the early 1990's for me is what would have become of Mother Love Bone had lead singer Andrew Wood not tragically overdosed on heroin shortly after the release of the band's masterpiece first and only album. However, what did come from this was firstly, the formation of Pearl Jam, one of the greatest bands of recent times, from Mother Love Bone's ashes and also this tribute album, `Temple Of The Dog'. Greatly moved by Wood's death, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who was Wood's former roommate teamed with drummer Matt Cameron and surviving MLB members bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard as well as lead guitarist Mike McCready. Released in 1991, just as alternative rock was beginning to hit the mainstream, this album has gone on to become one of the more forgotten and underestimated works from the Seattle movement, similarly to Mother Love Bone's `Apple'. So how much of a forgotten gem is this album?
`Temple Of The Dog', put simply is a musical collaboration that words can't describe. When I originally got the album, I expected it to be good but not on a par with other Seattle classics like `Ten', `Badmotorfinger' or `Dirt'. I was shocked after listening to it; hell I couldn't have been more wrong as this album is every bit the other albums' equal. `Temple Of The Dog' is a masterpiece tribute to Andrew Wood, with 10 awesome songs, none of which are less than excellent. The collaboration of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden is a unique and successful blend indeed. Chris Cornell paves the way with the album, writing most of the songs and all of the lyrics. His words of emotional, compelling, dark and powerful and his strong delivery on this album is hard to match. I thought his vocal range on `Badmotorfinger' was unsurpassable enough but he is even more stronger on this album, and strangely seems more at home in this tribute band. The distinctive, grungy and sometimes quirky guitar play from Gossard and McCready complements his singing very well and sets up an unwavering groove throughout the album that can easily put you in a trance. Couple that with a great rhythm section of Matt Cameron and Jeff Ament (now obviously a feature in Pearl Jam too) and the results can be no less than phenominal. All of the 10 songs on the album have something different to offer, be it slower, emotional ballads or grungier rocking guitar jams. Harmonica, keyboard and organ make very effective appearances in some of the songs such as `Times Of Trouble' and `All Night Thing' also. It really is a shame for me that this album (and Mother Love Bone's `Apple') are the more forgotten works of the Seattle sound as they are perhaps two of the genres finest works. I suppose it's one of those tragedies that often the best music reaches the fewest ears. The fact that Mother Love Bone never progressed past it's first album tragically is at least a softened blow when we have tribute works like this one that are so awe inspriring.
`Temple Of The Dog' get's going with `Say Hello 2 Heaven', an opener with tribute written all over it. This awesome opener definitely tells the listener they're in for something special with this album. A slow guitar groove works greatly in tandem to Cornell's calm verse vocals before spurring into a blistering vocal attack on the chorus. One of the prized moments on the album is next in `Reach Down', a...wait for it, 11 minute epic. The amazing thing is that it never gets boring. Plodding, stripped down guitar work is a feature throughout the song and is a platform for a lengthy vocals from Cornell. After 2 verses, the song goes all out into a jam for about 5 minutes with plenty of experimental guitar work from McCready and some great bass from Jeff Ament. The soulful vocal reprise and harmony late on is excellent. The single off the album, `Hunger Strike' is next and what a song. The instrumentation has a classic Pearl Jam feel to it, as does the song overall, as it features guest vocalist Eddie Vedder. Himself and Cornell exchange vocals very effectively and the `I'm Going Hungry' vocal exit is brilliant. `Pushing Forward Back' has a more urgent pace to it and a much more rocking feel to it, with a memorable chorus. Then we have `Call Me A Dog'; a much more slower, emotive ballad, with a piano harmony and more toned down (but just as effective) Cornell vocals. It's a very introspective song and this is reflected throughout, especially with the end solo.
The next track for me though is the pinnacle of the album in `Times Of Trouble'. It's another very stripped down and slow song musically. Cornell gives a compelling vocal performance with lyrics about loss and drug addiction. Each verse builds to a thrilling climax were Cornell's vocals increase in power. The harmonica solo is quite special as is the `If somebody...' bridge at the end. Such a moving song. The effects of religion are in the lyrics of `Wooden Jesus', another fine song, with more fantastic guitar licks and a stunning chorus. `Your Saviour' has some interesting but good vocal harmonies from Eddie Vedder to complement Cornell's striking calls. If you had to pick a song which was closest to being like Soundgarden on the album, you'd pick this one. `Four Walled World' is another dark and moving epic with brooding guitar melodies and a heart wrenching chorus. Cornell again is the centrepiece of another fantastic song, as is also true in the final song `All Night Thing'. Cornell rounds things off accompanied by not much more than organ and piano harmonies which finishes the album in an extremely peaceful note.
The grunge supergroup `Temple Of The Dog' only stayed together for one album with this masterpiece tribute but for me it was more than enough for them to make their mark on the Seattle music scene alongside all the other great bands of the time. Few albums can match a work like this where all songs are top notch and hardly flawed, this is truly a masterpiece. It's slow, dark and emotional but is a thrilling listen and captvates the listener from start to finish. Sadly, it's not always that easy to get (certainly rare in CD shops in the UK) so you may have to do some searching for it or you can get it readily from amazon. It's worth it's weight in gold though and I'd urge anyone to buy it who comes across it for sale. A must for any fan of the Seattle movement and aforementioned bands and even for anyone who just wants some great songs pure and simple.
MY RATING: 10/10; a classic that rises above the rest
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 17, 2013 1:21:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 17, 2013 1:22:17 PM PDT
Keb Shemp says:
Well done. This could be the best rock and roll album ever, and I'm not really even a grunge fan.
Posted on Oct 28, 2013 12:20:00 AM PDT
K. Rosinbum says:
:) This review just made me smile ear to ear. But, this album and all that surrounds it will never be forgotten by those that genuinely care. Fuggin masterpiece.
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