|Studio album by|
|Released||October 31, 1988|
|Singles from Ultramega OK|
Ultramega OK is the debut studio album by American rock band Soundgarden, released on October 31, 1988 by SST Records. Following the release of the EPs Screaming Life (1987) and Fopp (1988), both for the Sub Pop record label, Soundgarden signed with SST and went to work on their debut full-length. The resulting album contained elements of heavy metal, psychedelic rock, and hardcore punk. The band supported the album with a tour of the United States, as well as its first overseas tour.
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 on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on 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 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.
SST Records is an American independent record label formed in 1978 in Long Beach, California by musician Greg Ginn. The company was formed in 1966 by Ginn at age 12 as Solid State Tuners, a small business through which he sold electronics equipment. Ginn repurposed the company as a record label to release material by his band Black Flag.
In 1990, the album earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Metal Performance.
A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The trophy depicts a gilded gramophone. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.
The Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance is an award presented at the Grammy Awards to recording artists for works containing quality performances in the heavy metal music genre. The Grammy Awards is an annual ceremony, where honors in several categories are presented by The Recording Academy of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position". The ceremony was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards.
The album was recorded in spring 1988 in Seattle, Washington, and Newberg, Oregon, with producer Drew Canulette. Frontman Chris Cornell said that during the recording sessions the band wasn't on the same page with Canulette. He said, "Material-wise we went through the process that we always do, but the producer wasn't used to the sound we wanted and didn't know what was happening in Seattle."
Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 744,955 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area's population stands at 3.94 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.
Washington, officially the State of Washington, is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Named for George Washington, the first U.S. president, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory, which was ceded by Britain in 1846 in accordance with the Oregon Treaty in the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute. The state, which is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, by Oregon to the south, by Idaho to the east, and the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north, was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Olympia is the state capital; the state's largest city is Seattle. Washington is often referred to as Washington State to distinguish it from the nation's capital, Washington, D.C..
Newberg is a city in Yamhill County, Oregon, United States. Located in the Portland metropolitan area, the city is home to George Fox University. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 22,110 making it the second most populous city in the county.
He later said that "we made a huge mistake with Ultramega OK, because we left our home surroundings and people we'd been involved with and used this producer that really did affect our album in a kind of negative way. The producer was suggested by SST because they could get a good deal. I regret it, because in terms of material, it should have been one of the best records we ever did. It actually slowed down our momentum a little bit because it didn't really sound like us."
Veteran Seattle producer Jack Endino, who also produced Soundgarden's first EP, Screaming Life , was in the process of re-mixing the album, and actually completed a rough mix of "Flower". But, due to the band wanting to move on and the financial costs involved with repressing and redistributing the record, it was put on hold.The project has since been resumed by Jack Endino and Kim Thayil.
Jack Endino is an American producer and musician based in Seattle, United States. Long associated with Seattle label Sub Pop and the grunge movement, Endino worked on seminal albums from bands such as Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Nirvana. Endino was also the guitarist for the Seattle band Skin Yard which was active between 1985 and 1992. Endino currently manages a studio in Seattle called Soundhouse Recording.
Screaming Life is the debut EP by the American rock band Soundgarden, released in October 1987 through Sub Pop Records. Screaming Life was later combined with the band's next EP, Fopp (1988), and released as the Screaming Life/Fopp compilation album in 1990.
"Flower" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Featuring lyrics written by frontman Chris Cornell and music written by guitarist Kim Thayil, "Flower" was released in May 1989 as the only single from the band's debut album, Ultramega OK (1988). The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides. An alternate BBC version of "Flower" recorded on 14 May 1989 appeared on the Deluxe Edition of the band's 2010 compilation album Telephantasm.
Ultramega OK has elements of 1960s psychedelic rock, 1970s hard rock and heavy metal, and 1980s hardcore punk.Drummer Matt Cameron said that the band tried to refine its sound while still trying to keep an edge. Steve Huey of AllMusic said that the album is the "best expression of Soundgarden's early, Stooges/MC5-meets-Zeppelin/Sabbath sound", and added that it is "a dark, murky, buzzing record that simultaneously subverts and pays tribute to heavy metal".
Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred around perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.
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.
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.
Guitarist Kim Thayil recalls "Flower" as being the first time he blew across his guitar strings.This can be heard during the song's introduction, when they are played in rhythm with the drums. "Circle of Power" was one of the few Soundgarden songs to be written without any input from Cornell, as it was written by Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. It is also the only Soundgarden song on which Yamamoto performs lead vocals.
"Smokestack Lightning" is a Howlin' Wolf cover. On the original version of the album, "Smokestack Lightning" segued into a distorted excerpt from the Sonic Youth song, "Death Valley '69". Soundgarden included it as a tribute/parody of Sonic Youth's similar sampling of The Stooges song "Not Right" on their "Bad Moon Rising" album.This excerpt was removed from the 2017 reissue of "Ultramega OK".
Cornell said that "Flower" is "about a girl...who becomes a woman and basically invests everything in vanity and then burns out quick."Thayil stated that "Nazi Driver" is about "cutting up Nazis and making stew out of them". Cornell observed that the lyrics and vocals for "Incessant Mace" are "very European Gothic".
Three songs on the album were recorded as jokes or parodies by the band. The songs "665" and "667" are parodies of the idea of Satanic content in rock music, the idea being that if 666 is such a powerful number, then the surrounding numbers must be equally as powerful.The album's closing track, "One Minute of Silence", is a "cover" of John Lennon's "Two Minutes of Silence" from the 1969 album, Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions , excluding Yoko Ono's part. Cornell said that the band "appreciated the Lennon arrangement so much". No instruments are played, although the band (presumably) can be faintly heard in the background. Cornell stated, "We were trying real hard to shut up, but Kim couldn't possibly shut up for a whole minute."
Cornell said, "On [Ultramega OK] the production wasn't what we were after at all, and that sort of hurt us critically."Allmusic staff writer Steve Huey gave the album four out of five stars, saying, "It may not be quite as complex or consistent as some of Soundgarden's later albums, but Ultramega OK is easily the best document of grunge's early, pre-Nirvana days." Ann Powers of Blender said, "Not every moment is brilliant, but it sure is loud."
"Flower" was the only single released from the album. Its music video, directed by Mark Miremont, aired regularly on MTV's 120 Minutes , helping to call attention to the early Seattle grunge scene.
At the 1990 Grammy Awards, Ultramega OK received a nomination for Best Metal Performance.
The album's cover art, photographed by Lance Mercer, features a black and white picture of the band. According to Cornell, the album's title was a joke conceived by Thayil.Cornell explained that the title Ultramega OK means "absolutely, unbelievably not bad," and suggested that the British version was going to be called Ultramega UK. Cornell explained the title further, stating, "With Ultramega OK we really liked the songs on that record but we were disappointed in the production. We were sort of making fun of the finished product. It was Ultramega Alright. Ultramega could have been better but not bad."
Soundgarden supported the album with a tour in the United States in the spring of 1989 and a tour in Europe, which began in May 1989 and was the band's first overseas tour.
Ultramega OK was reissued on LP in 2012. "One Minute of Silence" was not included on it.
A new reissue of Ultramega OK was released on March 10, 2017 on Sub Pop in four formats, namely, black and colored double LP, CD, cassette tape, and digital download. The album was fully remixed and remastered from the original tapes by Jack Endino. It includes, as bonus tracks, six early eight-track versions of songs from the same album, taken from a demo tape, informally called "the Ultramega EP" by the band members, recorded by Endino and Chris Hanzsek at Reciprocal Recording studio in 1987.
All lyrics written by Chris Cornell, except where noted.
|2.||"All Your Lies"||Thayil, Hiro Yamamoto||3:51|
|4.||"Beyond the Wheel"||Cornell||4:20|
|6.||"Mood for Trouble"||Cornell||4:21|
|7.||"Circle of Power"||Yamamoto||Thayil||2:05|
|8.||"He Didn't"||Matt Cameron||2:47|
|9.||"Smokestack Lightning"||Howlin' Wolf||Howlin' Wolf||5:07|
|13.||"One Minute of Silence"||John Lennon||1:02|
|2017 expanded reissue|
|1.||"Flower" (remixed & remastered)||3:26|
|2.||"All Your Lies" (remixed & remastered)||3:49|
|3.||"665" (remixed & remastered)||1:38|
|4.||"Beyond the Wheel" (remixed & remastered)||4:22|
|5.||"667" (remixed & remastered)||0:56|
|6.||"Mood for Trouble" (remixed & remastered)||4:20|
|7.||"Circle of Power" (remixed & remastered)||2:04|
|8.||"He Didn’t" (remixed & remastered)||2:47|
|9.||"Smokestack Lightning" (remixed & remastered)||4:36|
|10.||"Nazi Driver" (remixed & remastered)||3:52|
|11.||"Head Injury" (remixed & remastered)||2:20|
|12.||"Incessant Mace" (remixed & remastered)||6:21|
|13.||"One Minute of Silence" (remixed & remastered)||1:02|
|14.||"Head Injury" (Early Version)||2:59|
|15.||"Beyond the Wheel" (Early Version)||4:55|
|16.||"Incessant Mace" (Early Version)||6:22|
|17.||"He Didn’t" (Early Version)||2:54|
|18.||"All Your Lies" (Early Version)||3:45|
|19.||"Incessant Mace V2" (Early Version)||7:49|
On cassette only, there is a 20th track titled "13 Minutes of Silence Remix," similar to the joke track "One Minute of Silence" from the original release.
|US Vinyl Albums ( Billboard )||8|
|US Tastemaker Albums ( Billboard )||9|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||122|
Screaming Life/Fopp is a compilation album by the American rock band Soundgarden that combines their debut EPs in their entirety into a single release. It was originally released on May 11, 1990, through Sub Pop Records. Sub Pop later remastered and re-issued the album on November 24, 2013.
Superunknown is the fourth studio album by American rock band Soundgarden, released on March 8, 1994, through A&M Records. It is the band's second album with bassist Ben Shepherd, and features new producer Michael Beinhorn. Soundgarden began work on the album after touring in support of its previous album, Badmotorfinger (1991). Superunknown captured the heaviness of the band's earlier releases while displaying a more diverse range of influences.
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.
Down on the Upside is the fifth studio album by the American rock band Soundgarden, released on May 21, 1996, through A&M Records. It is the band's third album with bassist Ben Shepherd. Following a worldwide tour in support of its previous album, Superunknown (1994), Soundgarden commenced work on a new album. Self-produced by the band, the music on the album was notably less heavy and dark than the group's preceding albums and featured the band experimenting with other sounds.
A-Sides is a compilation album by the American rock band Soundgarden with songs spanning the band's thirteen-year career. It was released on November 4, 1997, through A&M Records.
Louder Than Love is the second studio album and major-label debut by American rock band Soundgarden. It was released on September 5, 1989, by A&M Records. After touring in support of their debut album, Ultramega OK (1988), Soundgarden left SST, signed with A&M and began work on its first album for a major label. The songs on the album featured a metal-leaning grunge sound with some songs featuring unusual or unorthodox time signatures.
"Jesus Christ Pose" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden, released in 1991 as the first single from the band's third studio album, Badmotorfinger (1991). The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides.
Hiro Yamamoto is an American bassist who was a founding member of grunge band Soundgarden, along with Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell in 1984. He left the band in 1989, and two years later, he started the independent rock band Truly together with Screaming Trees drummer Mark Pickerel and Robert Roth from The Storybook Krooks. In 2016, Yamamoto founded the surf trio Stereo Donkey, with drummer Mike Bajuk and guitarist Pat Wickline.
"Hunted Down" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Featuring lyrics written by frontman Chris Cornell and music written by guitarist Kim Thayil, "Hunted Down" was released in June 1987 as the band's first single. It is the first track on the band's first release, the Screaming Life EP (1987). The song was included on the band's 2010 compilation album, Telephantasm.
"Hands All Over" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Featuring lyrics written by frontman Chris Cornell and music written by guitarist Kim Thayil, "Hands All Over" was released in 1990 as the second single from the band's debut full-length studio album, Louder Than Love (1989). It also appeared on the band's EP Loudest Love, released in 1990. The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides and appeared on the band's compilation album Telephantasm.
"Blow Up the Outside World" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, "Blow Up the Outside World" was released on November 18, 1996, as the third single from the band's fifth studio album, Down on the Upside (1996). The song topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it spent a total of four weeks at number one. The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides.
"Ty Cobb" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Featuring lyrics written by frontman Chris Cornell and music written by bassist Ben Shepherd, "Ty Cobb" was released in April 1997 as the fourth single from the band's fourth studio album, Down on the Upside (1996). The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides.
"Slaves & Bulldozers" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. It is the third track on the band's 1991 album Badmotorfinger.
Deep Six is a compilation album featuring six Seattle-based alternative rock bands and was released in 1986. It was the very first release by C/Z Records with a catalogue number of CZ01 for 2,000 copies. The album was reissued as a joint C/Z Records/A&M Records release on April 5, 1994.
King Animal is the sixth and final studio album by American rock band Soundgarden. It was released on November 13, 2012, by Seven Four Entertainment and Republic Records in the United States, and by Vertigo Records in the rest of the world. Produced by both the band and Adam Kasper, the album is the band's first in sixteen years, and the first not to be released on A&M Records since 1988's Ultramega OK. However, Republic, Vertigo and A&M are all owned by Universal Music Group. It is also Soundgarden's final studio album to be released before the death of frontman Chris Cornell in 2017, and the subsequent dissolution of the band.
6 Songs for Bruce, also commonly known as 4-Track Demo, is an early single-sided demo cassette tape by American rock band Soundgarden.
Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path is a 3-CD compilation album by the American rock band Soundgarden. It was released on November 24, 2014. The album is a collection of rarities, live tracks, and unreleased material spanning the group's history. It includes previously released songs, such as "Live to Rise", "Black Rain", "Birth Ritual", and others, as well as a newly recorded rendition of a song from the band's pre-Matt Cameron 1985 demo, "The Storm", now simply titled "Storm", which was produced by Jack Endino.