I pre-ordered the colored vinyl version of this release, and unfortunately production delays meant that while the black edition was in the stores earlier in the summer mine just arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. This was kind of a bummer, but it is what it is, and now that it’s here and I can see the attention to detail and quality of the overall package, I have to say it was worth the wait.
Somehow despite living in the greater Seattle area (though never actually in Seattle) since 1984, I never saw Soundgarden live. Clearly I have no excuse for this. I was buying their records before anyone outside of Seattle even knew who they were and there were plenty of opportunities to catch them. But such is life. Fortunately there are some great live recordings out there, like Live From the Artists Den.
I love that they opened with a sludgy classic from their debut, the weighty “Incessant Mace”. Those first three Soundgarden LPs (and the assorted EPs and Sub Pop singles) are my favorite parts of their catalog. One of the great things about Soundgarden live is that they don’t make an effort to sound polished – of course the songs are recognizable, but there’s a rawness as well, a sense that anything could happen at any time. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the vocals, with Cornell’s voice lacking the prettiness that came to define it on the band’s later albums. This is aggressive Chris, singing like a caged animal. This might be the one bummer I had on the collection as well, though, as he can’t (or maybe won’t) hit the high notes on one of my all-time-favorites “Jesus Christ Pose”. Other than that, though, this one is solid from start to finish.