Chris Cornell has not only been in two huge rock bands (Soundgarden and Audioslave) and the ultimate grunge supergroup (Temple Of The Dog) but he’s also had an intriguing and varied solo career in-between. Here’s my reviews of his discography.
Euphoria Morning – 1998
Following Soundgarden’s split after the Down On The Upside tour, Cornell’s first move was to make a fantastic solo album that effectively concluded his former band’s musical journey from heavy metal to Beatleseque melodic pop. Apparently it was meant to be called Euphoria Mourning before a typo robbed it of the more appropriate title, but it’s still an underrated post-grunge classic with some great songs on there, like Can’t Change Me, Moonchild and Flutter Girl. It didn’t make much of an impression though, and was soon forgotten when Cornell hooked up with most of Rage Against The Machine to form Audioslave.
Carry On – 2007
With Audioslave coming to the end of their run and Cornell having re-established himself as a solo artist by (somehow) getting to do the theme song for Casino Royale, the time seemed right for a new album. Unfortunately, Carry On wasn’t the right album for the time, or any time. With a revamped (ie, over-produced) version of You Know My Name in there to attract new fans, there was little sign of the Euphoria Morning sound and only a disappointing collection of mostly uninspired plodding rock songs with some surprisingly poor vocals. A cover of Billie Jean offered some interest (and resulted in a curious mention on the UK’s The X-Factor) but didn’t exactly work much better than the original material. Scar On The Sky and a few others offered some quality, but overall Carry On sounded like an artist stuck in creative limbo.
Scream – 2009
When Cornell returned with a third solo album, he wasn’t lacking inspiration anymore, but what had inspired him caused Scream to be met with a mixture of ridicule and revulsion. It probably didn’t help that he chose to launch his ‘new direction’ with Timbaland-produced Part Of Me, and a video that made him look worryingly like an uncool white rocker trying to be Snoop Dogg. However, when the dust settled, Scream actually turned out to be a really good album with some of his best post-Soundgarden songs on it. The production wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but for me it works perfectly and I like the way it all runs together. It still seems odd that Chris Cornell made an album with a song co-written and featuring Justin Timberlake, but you could tell that he was more engaged with this than Carry On, and it’s a far superior record.
Songbook – 2011
Much to the relief of disbelieving grunge fans everywhere, Cornell’s next move after Scream was to reunite with Soundgarden for a series of tours and an upcoming new album. While on downtime (due to sharing drummer Matt Cameron with Pearl Jam), he reinvented himself as a solo artist again by going on the road for acoustic shows. With a wealth of material from his bands and his three albums (yes, even Scream), plus a few covers, the shows were a big success and this live album demonstrates why. As well as the obvious choices (Call Me A Dog, Black Hole Sun, etc), there’s good reinventions of tracks like Ground Zero and some of the Audioslave stuff and great new studio track The Keeper to boot. His solo career so far has been wildly varied, but it’s in rude health even with Soundgarden back in action.