Monday, 15 June 2009

Rock Band Wish List #2: Soundgarden

While playing a quick Rock Band session yesterday (quick because ZOMG hot weather), we were randomly thrown the downloaded track Jesus Christ Pose by Soundgarden. As a grunge fan who still thinks Converse All Stars are the only acceptable form of footwear in anything but the most arctic of climates, it was great fun, but it struck me that Soundgarden songs are particularly challenging, and the game could stand to have a few more of them. Matt Cameron's drumming is often complex and unpredictable, and keeping up with Chris Cornell's vocals would challenge any singer ¹. Kim Thayil's guitar work can often be deceptively intricate, but from time to time he would just flat out rock the fucking fuck out, and though I've been enjoying some of the mellower songs in the game, more rocking in Rock Band is always welcome.

Rock Band has already irked me by gamifying (dibs on that word) a mere four Soundgarden tracks: the staggering Jesus Christ Pose, Black Hole Sun and Spoonman from Superunknown (two songs I'm cool on), and Pretty Noose from that album no one bought. I'm tempted to say that this Wish List entry should be dedicated to sending a desperate plea to Harmonix and A&M to make it up to me by gamifying all of Superunknown. Oh to be able to play My Wave and The Day I Tried To Live! Instead, I'll make a case for Gun, from Louder Than Love. Here is the track on, and here is a video of Soundgarden performing it live.

Nice to see that Soundgarden can rock a fucking joint down in person. My only previous experience of them performing live was at the Reading festival in 1995, where they half-assed it out of a prior obligation and seriously damaged my opinion of them. Any Soundgarden fans who think I'm lying should know SoC contributor Masticator was also there (though we didn't know each other at the time), and he knows what I'm talking about.

So why make a case for Gun and not Rusty Cage, or Fresh Tendrils, or even that Audioslave track with the Vanishing Point homage in the video? Simply because it starts slow, and gets faster. That's all, but anyone who has played I Get By by Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives will know that the device of starting slow and getting faster is not just fun but a terrific challenge to your sense of rhythm. Still, even at its most frenetic, I Get By is not that difficult, but Gun, with its howling vocals and insane shredding from Thayil at his shreddiest, could be as big a mountain to climb as Aerosmith's Train Kept A-Rollin' or Abnormality's Visions ². Harmonix would do well to chase up this suggestion immediately.

Or make all of Superunknown available. Whichever is easiest.

¹ I once suggested that he was easily a better vocalist than Eddie Vedder and was mocked for it at enormous, psyche-scar-inducing length, but Cornell has more range and power than old Grumbly Boots.

² AKA And Now Your Fingers Will Bleed And Snap Off.


Masticator said...

“the Reading festival in 1995, where they half-assed it out of a prior obligation and seriously damaged my opinion of them”

It’s true, so true.

A better vocalist than The Ved? Technically, perhaps (I wonder if Eddie could have managed that 15-second scream/bellow in Audioslave’s “Cochise”), but I’ve never been as affected by Cornell’s voice.

Admiral Neck said...

I'll grant you that. Pearl Jam do seem to go for emotional connect. Soundgarden were more about technical proficiency, peculiar time signatures (certainly for mainstream rock), and noise blasting, at least until Superunknown which had some vaguely reflective moments. Even then, songs like The Day I Tried To Live still feel kinda clinical. I guess that's why Pearl Jam are still going and are widely adored while Soundgarden and Audioslave have huge devoted camps of fans, but aren't doing stadium tours.

Unless they are, in which case shut me up now before I make a bigger fool of myself.