Soundgarden, ‘Screaming Life/Fopp’ (Sub Pop)
In 1990, Soundgarden’s first two EPs were combined in one release; this reissue adds “Sub Pop Rock City,” from the 1988 “Sub Pop 200” compilation, for good measure (all the tracks have been remastered as well).
Surprisingly for this multi-million selling band, these records had been out of print for some time. The “Screaming Life” tracks were first released in 1987, and provide an intriguing foretaste of what was to come, especially on “Nothing To Say,” with Chris Cornell’s commanding voice ringing out atop the slow heavy grind of a music that had yet to be defined as “grunge.”
Cornell’s falsetto made Robert Plant comparisons inevitable, but Soundgarden was developing a distinct style of their own as well, in addition to having a penchant for off-the-wall covers. The Ohio Player’s “Fopp” wasn’t an obvious choice for a hard rock band, but Soundgarden easily nails the funky groove (and producer Steve Fisk gets to have some fun in a “heavy dub mix” of the song). They also give a tip of the hat to Sub Pop label mates Green River by covering that band’s rollicking slice of braggadocio, “Swallow My Pride.”
And Soundgarden’s sense of humor is fully on display in “Sub Pop Rock City,” a satiric poke at the label that mixes in sound bites from co-founders Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman.