Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK wasn’t the first grunge album, but it was among the most pivotal. Such semi-forgotten north-west frontiersmen as Skin Yard and Green River may have beaten them to the record store racks, but it was Soundgarden’s debut that first had major label eyes swivelling Seattlewards.
Ultramega OK doesn’t sound quite so alien in 2017 as it did when it first landed at the tail end of 1988. Its slo-mo merging of punk and metal passed so quickly into the musical lexicon that it’s easy to forget just how revolutionary it was at the time.
Sure, Chris Cornell may have come on like a feral Robert Plant, and the monumental riff at the heart of Beyond The Wheel came straight from the Tony Iommi playbook, but remember that this was an era when Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath’s stock was at rock bottom.
Six inessential demos added to the original album hardly warrant the ‘deluxe edition’ tag. But as a document of a musical sea change, Ultramega OK is indispensable.