Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 3:22 AM
From the depths of the Sub Pop archives comes a reissue of Soundgarden’s thunderous opening salvo, Screaming Life, plus bonus tracks from the Fopp EP and Sub Pop 200 compilation. This reissue marks the first time these tracks will be available digitally, and their first appearance on vinyl since the original, late-80s pressings (notwithstanding a long-gone, late-’90s repress of Screaming Life). All tracks have been remastered for maximum power by JJ Golden and Seattle studio wizard and producer of the original Screaming Life and Sub Pop 200 sessions, Jack Endino, who had this to say about it:
“Ah, Screaming Life, Soundgarden’s debut, and one of the first real records I made for anyone outside my own band. I already knew Soundgarden pretty well, since they and Skin Yard had shared the stage many times in Seattle’s tiny club scene circa 1985-1986. Kim lived near me and liked to stay up late, drink beer, and talk guitars and ontology. I had a basement 4-track setup and had done some demos for them and others. Both our bands had been on Chris Hanzsek’s Deep Six comp LP. When a local recording studio, Triangle Recording, unexpectedly closed (the owner suddenly took his gear and moved to Montana), I called Chris with this hot tip, and we took over the empty building, renaming it Reciprocal Recording in July 1986. Chris Hanzsek brought his Otari eight-track recorder; I brought all my friends in bands, and soon there I was with Soundgarden, trying to make the most of our eight tracks. Sub Pop was still in the “planning” stages, so Soundgarden was spending their own money at a terrifying 15 bucks an hour, which would almost buy you a house on Mercer Island back then.
Matt Cameron, who starved for a year in Skin Yard before leaving amicably and ending up in Soundgarden, is credited cryptically with ‘bonus tubs’ on the original vinyl release of this record. Do not ask him about Killer Tomatoes. You can point one microphone at Matt and it will sound great; he’s that kind of drummer. Now, happily, I could allot him three (3) tracks. That left one track for Hiro’s primordial Fender jazz bass, and a luxurious four tracks left to share between Kim’s mad guitar psychedelia and Chris Cornell’s still-expanding voice. On this record, you can hear Chris experimenting with his singing as he starts to realize how much range he has to play with. “Nothing To Say” was the song that made us all look at each other and go, “Uh, holy crap, how did we do this?”
Stuff started happening. A&M came calling. SST agreed to put out their next record. But Soundgarden was not finished with Sub Pop (cue evil laughter). They agreed to contribute a song to the Sub Pop 200 comp, but they had no song, so they just wrote one in the studio, right in front of me. By now, ‘grunge’ was blowing up, and Kim and Chris’ lyrics about Seattle on ‘Sub Pop Rock City’ are so hilariously scathing that it’s fortunate you can’t make out most of them. Bruce and Jon were leaving messages on the studio answering machine (‘What the heck is going on?’), so we dropped those right into the track too. Meanwhile, they threw everyone a curveball by recording the Ohio Players tune ‘Fopp’ with Steve Fisk, who of course made an insane dance remix using old-school tape cut-up methods. I can’t dance for shit, but I hear it was all the rage on the Continent. This plus a Green River cover turned into the Fopp EP, also included herein, which foreshadowed Soundgarden’s future habit of recording gleefully bent cover versions, from the Beatles to Budgie to Devo.
The glorious vistas of a major label future awaited them. To quote Kim from an old interview, ‘It was karma, it was dogma, it was dog breath.’"
- Jack “That Didn’t Suck” Endino, Seattle, 2013
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