Soundgarden’s debut album Ultramega OK is probably my least favorite of their albums. I still really enjoy it, but I find the stuff that comes after it reaches a whole other level. Their punk roots are really on display with this album and it faded away as the band got older. With their next album they were compared to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin a lot more.
I sort of fell back in love with this album when it was reissued in 2017 by Sub Pop (the indie label that gave a lot of grunge bands their start). I happened to get the “loser edition” of the album on vinyl and its probably the album that’s gotten the most spins on my shitty turntable over the last 2 years.
The deep cut on this album is Beyond the Wheel. Its a song that most loyal Soundgarden fans will know, but its not recognized by the mainstream audience. Its one of my favorite because it shows the shockingly high level Chris Cornell’s range can reach. It was a frequently played song for most of their early years, but it got phased out before their breakup in 1997 because Chris Cornell’s voice got worn out and couldn’t hit the notes anymore.
When the band reunited in 2010 and they made their live debut at a secret show in Seattle under the name Nudedragons (if you rearrange the letters its Soundgarden) they played Beyond the Wheel once again and Cornell aces it. I’m not sure if it did some vocal training or something but I was so impressed when they dusted off this old underrated gem and then he pulled it off. Here’s some pretty good footage of the first performance of the song at the Seattle show. I love the little smirk Cornell gives after he hits the high notes.
What is your favorite Soundgarden song?