The 10 Best Grunge Albums of All Time
|Photo by Groovehouse|
|Soundgarden at Bayou Music Center, May 2013|
By the time Superunknown was released in 1994, Kurt Cobain was dead and Pearl Jam had decided to shun the spotlight, leaving the door wide open for new Seattle torchbearers. Whether they wanted it or not, the mantle was passed to Soundgarden, who delivered a brilliant disc that now sounds like a Greatest Hits package.
Tunes like "Spoonman," "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days" received tons of airplay on radio and MTV, and the rest of the record was just as good. Soundgarden had always been terrific songwriters, but they upped their game significantly on Superunknown, arriving at a wistfully doomed-sounding style that elevated the band to grunge's Mt. Rushmore for good. NATHAN SMITH
Stone Temple Pilots, Purple (1994)
With 1992's Core San Diego stompers Stone Temple Pilots had produced a record that rocked pretty damn hard, but many in the music press derided it at the time as derivative grunge hackery -- particularly the Vedder-esque, yarling vocals employed by STP singer Scott Weiland. While a number of tracks on that disc have rightly come to be regarded as '90s rock classics, it wasn't until 1994's Purple that the band truly came into its own.
Perhaps in response to criticism, STP let it all hang out on Purple, delivering an eclectic blend of grunge, pop, metal and classic rock that included two massive hit singles in "Vasoline" and "Interstate Love Song" not to mention the memorable grunge ballad "Big Empty," which was also featured on The Crow soundtrack. Overnight, people stopped complaining that STP was ripping off Pearl Jam and started giving them a little respect as artists... at least until Weiland's drug-addled behavior started turning fans off again. NATHAN SMITH
Temple of the Dog, Temple of the Dog (1991-92)
Temple of the Dog was envisioned as a small and personal project -- a tribute from Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell to a musical tribute from Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell to his friend Andrew Wood, the Mother Love Bone front man who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. After writing a few songs, Cornell tabbed Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and Wood's ex-bandmates, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, to bring the tunes to life. At the time, Gossard and Ament were working on new music with newcomers Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder, who were invited along to the studio.
The makeshift group recorded enough songs for an album -- which, despite being awesome, was released and forgotten in 1991. It wasn't until a year later, when Soundgarden and a new band called Pearl Jam blew up on MTV, that A&M Records realized what they had: a collaboration between two of the hottest bands in the world. The record was reissued, and audiences discovered that it was excellent. The troupe never reformed to record again, but they didn't need to. Temple of the Dog was definitive enough to go down as a stone-cold grunge essential. NATHAN SMITH
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