Screaming Life / Fopp EPs

Combining the band’s first two EPs, Screaming Life and Fopp , these songs generally see Soundgarden finding their legs. In particular, the Fopp EP is forgettable, featuring a decent original song (“Kingdom of Come”), a good cover song (Green River’s “Swallow My Pride”), and two awful covers of the same song (“Fopp” and “Fopp (dub)”) that was originally done by the Ohio Players. Thankfully, the Screaming Life EP (totaling six songs) is much better, starting with the somewhat thin but deliciously dirty sound rendered by producer Steve Fisk (with engineering help from Sub Pop house producer Jack Endino). The songs aren’t always there, though, and the performances are hit and miss as well. For example, Chris Cornell, who would become the band’s biggest asset, all but ruins “Tears To Forget” and “Little Joe” with his horrible vocals. A shame, really, as the former has a decent punk groove and the latter melodic guitars, though they’d be better off leaving funk metal attempts to the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More.¬†Fortunately, “Entering” and “Hand Of God” suit the band’s style much better, and though neither are especially memorable from a songwriting standpoint, both feature extremely powerful playing. Better yet is “Hunted Down,” an intense grinder with an air of menace, and “Nothing To Say,” the band’s first truly classic track on which Cornell unleashes his paint peeling screeches as the guitars swirl around him. The band would get much better, but these songs prove that Soundgarden was plenty good to begin with.

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