Formed in the early 1980s, Soundgarden are widely regarded as being pioneers of the grunge genre, though their commercial success was eclipsed by the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The quartet disbanded in 1997, which led to frontman Chris Cornell finding success as a solo artist and part of Audioslave, but they've now reformed and are reportedly working on a new record.
Recorded as the band toured the West Coast of America in 1996, this compilation was originally intended for release the following year, but these plans were scrapped when the group disbanded. The tracks are taken from various shows leading to a lack of cohesion; with the only indications of this being a tour record are the crowd roars and flat soundscape that plagues most live albums. The band prove themselves as more than just capable musicians, with great guitar work featuring on the likes of 'Spoonman' and anthemic 'Outshined', but the standout weakness is in the vocals - a huge surprise given the qualities of Cornell as a singer. This is particularly evident on 'Let Me Down', where it is evident that he cannot hold the notes, spoiling one of the finer performances here.
Many of the songs lack a quality hook, an indication as to why Soundgarden didn't make the same mainstream impression as some of their peers, so a couple of covers are thrown in for good measure. The Beatles' 'Helter Skelter' is tackled respectably, while 'Search And Destroy' by The Stooges is a decent combination of heavier tones over the original punk sound. However they are far from a reason to make this a necessary purchase and truth be told even fans may not be overly impressed by this compilation.