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Soundgarden: A Sides



Album: A Sides
Label: A&M

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Soundgarden deserves credit for breaking up at the right time: The songs from 1991's Badmotorfinger and 1994's Superunknown, particularly the latter album's "Black Hole Sun," were so outrageously overexposed that the band's blustery, riff-intensive, Led Zeppelin-inspired sound was starting to seem overblown and self-parodic. It also quit at a time when grunge was declining but not dead, thereby affording itself dignity while expediting the winds of commercial change. Of course, no band's career can end without a greatest-hits package to milk a few more dollars out of diehard fans, so here's A-Sides, a 79-minute behemoth consisting mostly of songs everyone already owns. Sure, there's one track from each of two early independent releases—"Nothing To Say," from 1987's Screaming Life EP, and "Flower," from 1989's Ultramega OK—and there's one heavily advertised outtake from last year's so-so Down On The Upside. Otherwise, you get three songs each from Louder Than Love and Badmotorfinger, and four songs each from Superunknown and that final album. Some of the songs are great (the Badmotorfinger material is particularly strong), but if you've already got those albums, take a pass. The less widely heard early material is thinly produced and derivative, and the "new" song, "Bleed Together," is refreshingly unpolished but inessential. Dust off Badmotorfinger instead.