Solo Albums: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Tomorrow night, former Audioslave lead singer and (thankfully) current Soundgarden member Chris Cornell will be at House of Blues for a long-sold-out acoustic show. Recent set lists have included a number of Temple of the Dog songs, some solo work, the usual 'Garden and 'Slave tracks, plus a handful of covers to exercise his famous vocal skawl.
Cornell was one of the first of the huge grunge guys to show us what he could do truly solo back in the late '90s, when most of his peers were either killing themselves or sinking into drugs. He was one of the only ones to actually step out and show us what he could do alone (read: more than scream) with his two solo releases, 1999's Euphoria Morning and 2007's Carry On.
Things got weird on 2009's Scream, with producer Timbaland at the helm. Cornell has one of the best rock voices that will ever be committed to record, no question. The entire Soundgarden catalog, even the Audioslave stuff, has amazing vocal work.
His first two solo albums after Soundgarden still stand as career highs. Euphoria Morning is a beautiful thing, and Carry On had some sweet jams. Scream, though, was an album that was almost to strange to hate, but too grating to enjoy. We will say this: It did let Cornell show off an R&B swagger we may have never heard otherwise.
Some frontmen have stumbled after they walk out from behind their main band. Not everyone is suited to be a lone wolf, and even the best musicians turn in dogs that sound like warmed over C-Sides and tracks that deserved to be burned out back behind the studio.
But one thing is for sure, they have all been great fodder, and in some cases, the best argument for a band to get their shit together and reunite. We're looking at you, Axl.
Freddie Mercury, Mr. Bad Guy: Mr. Bad Guy was a decent solo outing from the Queen front man while away from his band, and sure as hell showed his true colors as a dance-ready artist. The only tragedy is that we never got any other solo albums like this from him due to his death in 1991. We can only imagine the Scissor Sisters and Rufus Wainwright-penned hits that might have been.
Scott Weiland, 12 Bar Blues: We confess that we are fans of Scott Weiland's voice, with or without Stone Temple Pilots. Let's just say we bought two Velvet Revolver albums. The thing about Weiland alone is that he wallows in his personality, and with the solo debut 12 Bar Blues, he drowned in his Scott-ness. "Barbarella" and "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down" were great '60s throwbacks, but the rest was bad Bowie. Like Tin Machine Bowie.
Brandon Flowers, Flamingo: The Killers front man took a step out alone with Flamingo, with results that were still steeped in his band's indie-glam morass. Flamingo did show promise, especially on the Jenny Lewis-assisted "Hard Enough" and the space-cowboy wash of "Playing With Fire," but not enough to get him out from under the Killers clasp.