Louder Than F**k

Soundgarden Albums Ranked Worst To Best

by Pete Crigler

Soundgarden has always been one of the most distinct bands of the Seattle grunge era. Hell, they were one of the bands that started everything, being one of the first bands to appear on the “Deep Six” compilation in 1985 alongside Melvins and Green River. They always took a different path, though, dealing in everything from psychedelia, metal, pop, and almost everything in between. The band has some of the most played songs of the whole era and they are still in demand today from the guys’ own solo projects. Presented here is a ranking of everything the band has put out.

10. Live on I-5 (2011)/A-Sides (1997) (tie)soundgraden_livei5_150

These are the least essential items in the band’s oeuvre. A-Sides was the band’s first greatest hits record, released after their breakup just in time for Christmas with one unreleased song, “Bleed Together” that wasn’t very good in the first place. It’s been superseded by the Telephantasm collection and is only necessary if you need to own every single piece of Soundgarden music. The live album seems rushed, picking a lot of tracks from the band’s last tours where the enthusiasm wasn’t there anymore and the band was going through the motions. The songs don’t have the same feeling that they should and the whole record just kind of feels like a cash job. Completely inessential and for diehards only.

soundgarden_louder8. Louder Than Love (1989)

Their major label debut but also their laziest and most uninspired record. The best tracks here say it all: “Loud Love,” “Hands All Over,” and the classic “Full On Kevin’s Mom.” Even the glam metal parody “Big Dumb Sex” sounds dated and lame today. This is just an uninspired record that doesn’t and shouldn’t get a lot of love today.

7. Ultramega OK (1988)soundgarden_ultramega_150

The band’s full-length debut and their last record to show any tinges of humor, largely courtesy of Hiro Yamamoto. “Flower” is still one of my favorite tracks and others, like “Mood For Trouble” and “Head Injury,” show they still had a lot of punk still present in their sound. This is still a fun record and I for one am eagerly anticipating a remastered and remixed record coming in 2017 on Sub Pop, away from Greg Ginn’s shitty attitude and SST.

soundgarden_echoscattered_1506. Echo Of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path (2014)

The long-awaited box set of rarities, covers, and outtakes spanning their entire career is definitely for hardcore fans only. But there’s so much good stuff here that spans the band’s entire career. It has everything you could want, from “Fresh Deadly Roses” and “H.I.V. Baby” to “Jerry Garcia’s Finger” and “Into The Void (Sealth)” and oh so much more in between. This is one of the coolest boxes to be released in my lifetime.

5. Superunknown (1994)soundgarden_super

Everyone always raves about this record, but I was never that impressed by it; I just never cared that much for it. Who cares that it sold over six million copies? The best songs are the ones that were released as singles. It’s just never been an album that I go back to repeatedly, and while I like the songs, I just am not a fan of the whole disc. It’s still hard to get over something as great as “Spoonman,” but I am so damn tired from “Black Hole Sun” – don’t even get me started on that one! Quite simply, in this writer’s opinion, this disc just might be the most overrated in their catalogue.

soundgarden_down4. Down On The Upside (1996)

Their final record before the breakup, and while it is depressing as hell, it also has some of their coolest tracks, like “Burden In My Hand” and “Ty Cobb.” This was a really interesting way for the band to go out the first time round, and is definitely worth revisiting if the casual fan hasn’t already.

3. Telephantasm (2010)soundgarden_telephantasm_150

THE definitive greatest hits package, containing everything you could want as a fan, even alternate versions of some of their best stuff. The deluxe edition is really the way to go, as it gives you a bonus disc as well as a DVD of all their music videos. What more could you ask for from a greatest hits package?

sounadgarden_kinganimal_1502. King Animal (2012)

A hell of a comeback/reunion record and something to really be proud of. The band took their time writing and recording, wanting to make sure everything was right. Songs like “Been Away Too Long,” “Bones Of Birds,” and my personal fave, “Rowing,” among others, had just the right amount of old and new ‘Garden to make longtime fans breathe a heavy sigh of relief after the long wait. Simply put, it’s one of the best albums to come out of the Seattle scene in the 21st century.

1. Badmotorfinger (1991)soundgarden_badmotor

Definitively the ultimate proof that Soundgarden were among the heaviest of all Seattle bands (maybe besides TAD), this is the album that shot them straight into the stratosphere and made them one of the landmark bands of the scene. Everyone always knows songs like “Rusty Cage” and “Outshined,” but it’s the album cuts that really send this over the edge. Take a song like “Face Pollution” or “New Damage” and you’ll see a band making leaps and bounds over not only the competition but over their previous material, too. Then there’s “Slaves & Bulldozers,” literally the greatest thing the band ever recorded: complex, dense, and loud as f**k, it is impossible to stop the overall rage emanating from Cornell and co. All in all, this is as good as it got for ‘90s grunge that wasn’t Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, or Nirvana.

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