Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger reissue album review

Bigger and badder than ever, Soundgarden’s classic third album gets a multi-format facelift

Cover art for Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger

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No one likes an anniversary more than the music industry, and this year is the 25th birthday of grunge, arguably the last great revolution in rock. Of course, the sound and style attributed to the Seattle scene had been bubbling under for several years, but 1991 is often taken as the moment when things reached critical mass and the world was forced to take notice in a paradigm-shifting way. Right up there with Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten was Soundgarden’s quantum leap into the big league, their third album and follow-up to Louder Than Love.

Badmotorfinger was bigger, bolder and just that bit weirder and darker than its predecessor, and it demonstrated just how formidable Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron had become, developing rapidly into an alternative arty metal powerhouse with new bassist Ben Shepherd on board, the special cohesive ingredient to their sound that elevated the band from great to world class. The three singles – Jesus Christ Pose, Outshined and Rusty Cage – still stand tall in the band’s catalogue, but the entire album is a consistent maelstrom of creativity: epic crushers such as Slaves & Bulldozers and Searching With My Good Eye Closed complemented by short, sharp shocks Face Pollution and Drawing Flies.

It’s a package that’s pretty hard to improve on but this anniversary edition tries its damnedest to turn things up to eleven. You can opt for the double vinyl or the cut-down double CD, but the crown jewel here is the seven-disc collection: four CDs, two DVDs and a Blu-ray audio disc. Across the CDs we have a remastered album, newly mixed studio outtakes (basically fancy demos, including a storming New Damage featuring Brian May) and the complete and monumental Paramount Theatre gig from March 6, 1992.

The DVDs contain the video of the Paramount gig (yes, the repetition is a bit annoying) and the Motorvision home video, plus a bunch of extra unreleased video performances from 1992. The Blu-ray includes the album mixed in 5.1 surround sound. And it’s all housed, along with various stickers, patches and prints, in a revolving box (batteries included). More a case of Bloatmotorfinger than anything else.

If you’re looking for rarities, go for the Echo Of Miles compilation. But if you have the means and don’t mind the super deluxe cash grab going against grunge’s punky ethos, then this is a perfect way to fill up some spare shelf space.

Essi Berelian

Whether it’s magazines, books or online, Essi has been writing about rock ’n’ metal for around thirty years. He has been reviews editor for Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, rock reviews editor for lads mag Front and worked for Kerrang!. He has also written the Rough Guide to Heavy Metal and contributed to the Rough Guide to Rock and Rough Guide Book of Playlists, and the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles (13th edition). Most fun interview? Tenacious D – Jack Black and Kyle Gass – for The Pick of Destiny movie book. An avid record/CD/tape collector, he’s amassed more music than he could ever possibly listen to, which annoys his wife no end.