Badmotorfinger

Last updated

Badmotorfinger
Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 24, 1991 [1]
RecordedSpring 1991
Studio
Genre
Length57:42
Label A&M
Producer
Soundgarden chronology
Louder Than Love
(1989)
Badmotorfinger
(1991)
Superunknown
(1994)
Singles from Badmotorfinger
  1. "Jesus Christ Pose"
    Released: 1991
  2. "Outshined"
    Released: December 1991
  3. "Rusty Cage"
    Released: April 1992

Badmotorfinger is the third studio album by American rock band Soundgarden, released on September 24, 1991, through A&M Records. Soundgarden began the recording sessions for the album with new bassist Ben Shepherd in the spring of 1991. The album maintained the band's heavy metal sound while featuring an increased focus on songwriting as compared with the band's previous releases. AllMusic considered the album's music to be "surprisingly cerebral and arty"; alternative tunings and abnormal time signatures were present on several of the album's songs, and lyrics were intended to be ambiguous and create imagery.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Soundgarden American grunge rock band

Soundgarden was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band's full-time drummer in 1986, while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990. The band dissolved in 1997 and re-formed in 2010. Following Cornell's suicide in 2017 and a year of uncertainty of the band's future, Thayil declared in an October 2018 interview with Seattle Times that they would not continue as Soundgarden; they did, however, reunite in January 2019 for a one-off concert in tribute to Cornell.

A&M Records American historical record label

A&M Records was an American record label founded as an independent company by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Due to the success of the discography A&M released, the label garnered interest and was acquired by PolyGram in 1989 and began distributing releases from Polydor Ltd. from the UK. Throughout its operations, A&M housed well-known acts such as Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Captain & Tennille, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Bryan Adams, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Elkie Brooks, Carole King, Styx, Extreme, Amy Grant, Joan Baez, the Human League, The Police, CeCe Peniston, Blues Traveler, Soundgarden, Duffy and Sheryl Crow.

Contents

The focus on the Seattle grunge scene helped bring attention to Badmotorfinger. The singles "Outshined" and "Rusty Cage" were able to find an audience in rock radio and MTV. Badmotorfinger became the band's highest charting album at the time on the Billboard 200. The band supported the album with tours of North America and Europe, including opening for Guns N' Roses on that band's Use Your Illusion Tour. In 1992, Badmotorfinger was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1996.

Grunge is a rock music genre and subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in the Pacific Northwest U.S. state of Washington, particularly in Seattle and nearby towns. The early grunge movement revolved around Seattle's independent record label Sub Pop and the region's underground music scene. The owners of Sub Pop marketed Northwestern punk rock shrewdly and the media was encouraged to describe it as "grunge", which came to mean a punk and metal hybrid style of music. By the early 1990s its popularity had spread, with grunge bands appearing in California, then emerging in other parts of the United States and in Australia, building strong followings and signing major record deals.

Outshined single

"Outshined" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, "Outshined" was released in 1991 as the second single from the band's third studio album, Badmotorfinger (1991). The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides, the 2010 compilation album, Telephantasm and the live album Live on I-5.

Rusty Cage 1992 single by Soundgarden

"Rusty Cage" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, "Rusty Cage" was released in 1992 as the third single from the band's third studio album, Badmotorfinger (1991). The song became an instant hit and was released as a single in several different formats. The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides and the 2010 compilation album Telephantasm.

Recording and production

Badmotorfinger was Soundgarden's first album with bassist Ben Shepherd, who joined the group in April 1990. Shepherd replaced previous bassist Jason Everman. [2] The album was recorded in the spring of 1991 at Studio D in Sausalito, California, Bear Creek Studios in Woodinville, Washington, and A&M Studios in Los Angeles, California. [3] Soundgarden chose to work with producer Terry Date again as it had on its previous release Louder Than Love (1989). Frontman Chris Cornell said the band decided to work with Date again seeing as the band had a good relationship with him and did not want to go through the pressure of trying to find a new producer. [4]

Hunter Benedict Shepherd is an American musician best known as the bassist in the rock band Soundgarden from 1990 to 2019.

Jason Everman American musician

Jason Mark Everman is an American musician and soldier who played guitar with Nirvana and bass in Soundgarden and OLD. He later served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army as an Army Ranger and Green Beret.

Sausalito, California City in California, United States

Sausalito is a city in Marin County, California, located 8 miles (13 km) south-southeast of San Rafael, and 4 miles (7 km) north of San Francisco.

Cornell said that Shepherd brought a "fresh and creative" approach to the recording sessions, [5] and the band as a whole said that his knowledge of music and writing skills redefined the band. [6] Before joining, Soundgarden had been Shepherd's favorite band. [7] Compared with Louder Than Love, the band took a more collaborative approach to the writing process. [8]

Music and lyrics

Badmotorfinger has been classified by various critics as grunge, [9] [10] alternative metal, [11] heavy metal [12] and hard rock. [13] Steve Huey of AllMusic said that the songwriting on the album "takes a quantum leap in focus and consistency". He added, "It's surprisingly cerebral and arty music for a band courting mainstream metal audiences, but it attacks with scientific precision." [13] Guitarist Kim Thayil jokingly called it the "Heavy Metal White Album ". [5] Cornell said, "I think there's songs on the new record which are almost more commercially viable because they have that memorable feel to them, and I think if anyone expected us to come out and make something more commercial than Louder Than Love, then I'm glad that they were surprised." [14] Cornell also added that the album was more representative of how the band was live. [14] Shepherd contributed the song "Somewhere" and collaborated on the musical composition of several other songs on the album. Thayil said that Shepherd's contributions helped make the album "faster" and "weirder". [15]

Alternative metal is a rock music fusion genre that infuses heavy metal with influences from alternative rock and other genres not normally associated with metal. Alternative metal bands are often characterized by heavily downtuned, mid-paced guitar riffs, a mixture of accessible melodic vocals and harsh vocals and sometimes unconventional sounds within other heavy metal styles. The term has been in use since the 1980s, although it came into prominence in the 1990s.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

On the opening song, "Rusty Cage", Thayil uses a wah pedal as an audio filter, producing an unusual guitar sound. In describing the song's guitar riff he said that it "almost sounds backward". [16] Soundgarden utilized alternative tunings and odd time signatures on several of the album's songs. On "Rusty Cage", "Holy Water", and "Searching with My Good Eye Closed", the bottom E string is tuned down to B. [17] On "Mind Riot" every string is tuned to one of several E's. [17] Soundgarden's use of odd-meter time signatures was varied as well. Thayil said that he didn't "push for weird time signatures", but rather "push[ed] to get the quirkiness out of things". [17]

Audio filter

An audio filter is a frequency dependent amplifier circuit, working in the audio frequency range, 0 Hz to beyond 20 kHz. Audio filters can amplify (boost), pass or attenuate (cut) some frequency ranges. Many types of filters exist for different audio applications including hi-fi stereo systems, musical synthesizers, sound effects, sound reinforcement systems, instrument amplifiers and virtual reality systems.

The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are contained in each measure (bar), and which note value is equivalent to a beat.

Drop B tuning is a heavy metal guitar tuning for a six-string guitar where the strings are tuned to B-F#-B-E-G#-C#. This is a "drop 1" tuning in the key of C#. As a result, it uses the same fingering as all other "drop" tunings.

Cornell said that he tried to not get too specific with his lyrics and was more interested in letting ambiguity "[create] colourful images." [18] Thayil suggested that it is "like reading a novel [about] man's conflict with himself and society, or the government, or his family, or the economy, or anything." [19] "Jesus Christ Pose" was written about famous people who exploit the symbol of Jesus' crucifixion as to suggest that they're persecuted by the public. [20] Cornell said that "Outshined" is about going from "periods of extreme self-confidence" to "plummeting in the opposite direction". [21] "Holy Water" was written about people who force their beliefs unto others. [14] Thayil wrote the lyrics for "Room a Thousand Years Wide", and said that the song is about "experience in general". [15] "New Damage" subtly criticizes the right-wing government of the United States. [22]

Artwork

The Badmotorfinger logo consists of a jagged, cyclone-like design. In the center of the logo is a triangle with the album's title, containing a spark plug. The album's cover art was illustrated by guitarist Mark Dancey from the Sub Pop band Big Chief. Thayil suggested the title Badmotorfinger as a joke on the Montrose song "Bad Motor Scooter". [23] Regarding the title, Thayil said, "It was sort of off the top of my head. I simply like it because it was colorful. It was kinda aggressive, too ... It conjures up a lot of different kinds of images. We like the ambiguity in it, the way it sounded and the way it looked." [15]

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [13]
Christgau's Consumer Guide B− [24]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [25]
Entertainment Weekly B+ [12]
Los Angeles Times Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [26]
Mojo Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [27]
Pitchfork 8.3/10 [28]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [29]
Spin Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [30]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 7/10 [31]

Badmotorfinger was released on September 24, 1991 through A&M Records. [1] The album peaked at number 39 on the Billboard 200 album chart on February 29, 1992. [32] It was released nearly one month after Pearl Jam's Ten and on the same day as Nirvana's Nevermind , all of which helped to break alternative rock and grunge into the mainstream. [33] Although overshadowed at the time of its release by the sudden popularity of Nirvana's Nevermind, the focus of attention brought by Nevermind to the Seattle scene helped Soundgarden gain wider attention. [34] Badmotorfinger was among the 100 top selling albums of 1992. [35] Badmotorfinger sold a million copies in the early 1990s, [36] was certified platinum by the RIAA in January 1993 [37] and certified double platinum in April 1996, [37] signifying two million shipped copies. [38] [39]

In a contemporary review for Spin , Lauren Spencer hailed Badmotorfinger as a "garden of sound" that drew on older hard rock influences without sounding "derivative". [40] Ann Powers from Blender said, "Cornell strikes the perfect Jesus Christ pose on this sonic wallop", [41] while Entertainment Weekly critic Gina Arnold commended Soundgarden for writing more engagingly than their contemporaries, "who seldom get beyond extolling booze, girls, and cars". She concluded in her review that the record was more "stylishly bombastic rather than bludgeoningly bombastic. Tuneless heavy metal is, after all, still tuneless heavy metal, and in that department, Soundgarden are as functional as they make 'em." [12] In a retrospective review, AllMusic staff writer Steve Huey deemed the album "heavy, challenging hard rock full of intellectual sensibility and complex band interplay." [13] Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic, finding it "credible" as a metal record because of Thayil's impressive use of guitar noise but less impressive lyrically: "Chris Cornell howls on about 'lookin for the paradigm' and 'your Jesus Christ pose' (I swear, that's the good stuff)". [24]

Badmotorfinger included the singles "Jesus Christ Pose", "Outshined", and "Rusty Cage". The three singles gained considerable airtime on alternative rock radio stations, while the videos for "Outshined" and "Rusty Cage" gained considerable airtime on MTV. The lead single "Jesus Christ Pose" and its music video were the subject of widespread controversy in 1991, and the video was removed from MTV's playlist. [16] Many listeners were outraged by the song and its video, perceiving them as anti-Christian. The band received death threats while on tour in the United Kingdom in support of the album. [42]

At the 1992 Grammy Awards, Badmotorfinger received a nomination for Best Metal Performance, one of only nine full albums nominated in that category's history. [43] That same year, the album won a Northwest Area Music Award for Best Metal Album. [44] It was also ranked number 45 in the October 2006 issue of Guitar World on the magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitar albums of all time. [45]

In April 2019, Badmotorfinger was ranked No. 2 on Rolling Stone's "50 Greatest Grunge Albums" list. [46]

25th anniversary reissues (2016)

The 25th-anniversary reissue of Badmotorfinger was made available in two deluxe versions. The Deluxe Edition was a 2-CD package featuring the remastered album along with disc two consisting of studio outtakes and live tracks from the Paramount. The Super Deluxe Edition was a 7 disc package. The first disc was a remastered version of the album. Disc two had additional outtakes. The third and fourth discs were parts of a live album from the Paramount Theatre, and a DVD of the same show was included as the fifth disc. A DVD featuring the video compilation Motorvision (also at the Paramount) with bonus live videos included was on the sixth disc. The seventh disc is the album mixed in Blu-ray Audio 5.1 Surround Sound. The Super Deluxe Edition was packaged with various extras and the first 1,000 people to pre-order it received an exclusive re-issue of the "Jesus Christ Pose" single on 7" vinyl. A 2-LP gatefold of the album was also made available, along with a limited edition of 1,000 2-LP gatefold on silver vinyl. [47]

Tour

Following the release of Badmotorfinger, Soundgarden went on a tour in North America during October and November 1991. [14] Following this tour, the band was selected by Guns N' Roses for an opening slot on their Use Your Illusion Tour. [48] After finishing their tour with Guns N' Roses, Soundgarden took a slot opening for Skid Row in North America in February 1992 on the band's Slave to the Grind tour. [49] Soundgarden then headed to Europe for a month-long headlining theater tour [6] before returning to tour in the United States. [6] Soundgarden rejoined Guns N' Roses as part of the Use Your Illusion Tour in the summer of 1992 for a tour of Europe along with fellow opening act Faith No More. [6] Regarding the time spent opening for Guns N' Roses, Cornell said, "It wasn't a whole lot of fun going out in front of 40,000 people for 35 minutes every day. Most of them hadn't heard our songs and didn't care about them. It was a bizarre thing." [42] The band would go on to play the 1992 Lollapalooza tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam, among others. [50] The band later released Motorvision, which was filmed at the Paramount Theatre in 1992. [51]

Track listing

Original release

All tracks written by Chris Cornell, except where noted.

No.TitleLyricsMusicLength
1."Rusty Cage"  4:26
2."Outshined"  5:10
3."Slaves & Bulldozers" Cornell, Ben Shepherd 6:55
4."Jesus Christ Pose"  Matt Cameron, Cornell, Shepherd, Kim Thayil 5:50
5."Face Pollution" Shepherd2:23
6."Somewhere"ShepherdShepherd4:20
7."Searching with My Good Eye Closed"  6:31
8."Room a Thousand Years Wide"ThayilCameron4:05
9."Mind Riot"  4:49
10."Drawing Flies" Cameron2:26
11."Holy Water"  5:07
12."New Damage" Thayil, Cameron5:40
Total length:57:42

Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas

In anticipation of the band's appearance at the 1992 Lollapalooza tour, a limited edition of Badmotorfinger was released on June 28, 1992 with a second disc containing the EP Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas (or SOMMS). The title is a palindrome. This EP includes three covers, an unreleased original song, and a live version of "Slaves & Bulldozers". For its cover of Black Sabbath's "Into the Void", the original lyrics are replaced by words of protest by Chief Seattle (also known as Sealth), which fit the meter of the song. [19] At the 1993 Grammy Awards, "Into the Void (Sealth)" received a nomination for Best Metal Performance. [52]

Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas was reissued on purple 12" vinyl for Record Store Day on November 25, 2016. [53]

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Into the Void (Sealth)" Chief Sealth (lyrics) / Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward (music)6:37
2."Girl U Want" Gerald Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh 3:29
3."Stray Cat Blues" Mick Jagger, Keith Richards 4:46
4."She's a Politician"Cornell1:48
5."Slaves & Bulldozers" (live)Cornell, Shepherd8:38
Total length:25:12

Outtakes

"Cold Bitch" was later featured on the "Spoonman" single in 1994, while "She's a Politician" appeared on the "Burden in My Hand" single in 1996. "Cold Bitch" was one of Shepherd's favorite songs that the band recorded. [54]

The song "Birth Ritual" was worked on during the Badmotorfinger recording sessions, but was not completed. [16] The finished version would eventually see release on the Singles soundtrack in 1992, and later on both Telephantasm (2010) and Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path (2014) compilations. "No Attention", which later appeared on the band's 1996 album, Down on the Upside , was attempted during the recording sessions but "did not work" according to Kim Thayil. [55] "Black Rain" was mostly recorded during the sessions, but the vocals were never completed. It was eventually finished in 2010 and released on Telephantasm and later, Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path. Three tracks had been discarded during the mixing process, two of which were "A Broom", and "How Should I Know?" [56]

Although the album's singles featured plenty of B-sides, none of these were from the Badmotorfinger recording sessions. A one-day recording session with Stuart Hallerman yielded "Stray Cat Blues", "Into the Void (Sealth)", "Girl U Want", "Show Me", and "Touch Me". [57] "Show Me" was later featured on the 1993 No Alternative compilation, [58] and "Girl U Want" was later featured on the "Fell on Black Days" single. [59]

Personnel

Chart performance

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA) [77] Gold35,000^
Canada (Music Canada) [78] Platinum100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [79] Silver60,000^
United States (RIAA) [80] 2× Platinum2,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Accolades

The information regarding accolades attributed to Badmotorfinger is adapted in part from AcclaimedMusic.net. [81]

PublicationCountryAccoladeYearRank
Guitar World United States"100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time" [45] 200645
Revolver United States"The 69 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time" [82] 200226
Kerrang! United Kingdom"100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" [83] 199825
VisionsGermany"The Most Important Albums of the 90s" [84] 19993
JuiceAustralia"The 100 (+34) Greatest Albums of the 90s" [85] 199948
The MovementNew Zealand"The 101 Best Albums of the 90s" [86] 200484

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