sound gardenthe second version of stronger than love introduced us to what I consider to be a recurring theme of 1989, where many artists were releasing albums that, while lacking on the path to commercial success, reflected some sort of new direction the band would explore, or even a new element they would add to their sound that sets them apart from the herd, so to speak. On stronger than lovethis is exactly the kind of anticipation we came out of sound gardenand in many ways this album showed the early aspects of what would make it such a remarkable act with future releases like badmotorfinger and superunknown. Particularly with sound gardentheir trademark “prog-grunge” sort of thing began to find strength here, with its competent use of odd beats, tones and metal-focused themes on virtually every track.
The emphasis on experimentation, trying new things, going in different directions and just rebelling against all the norms was definitely kind of a philosophy subscribed to by a multitude of artists and individuals in general all along. throughout the 80s. The way it specifically translated into the world of music and the subculture that surrounds it has been such an influential monumental sensation that we see many media imitating it or attempting to recreate it even today. It is clear that this period set the tone for the future, and the songs on stronger than love such as “Ugly Truth”, “Power Trip” and “Loud Love” would help the soundtrack and strengthen it further.
One thing that I have personally always liked sound garden and remember that one of the strengths of this album is their ability to create songs that are instrumentally complex and interesting, but also with catchy and memorable hooks and choruses. What Chris Cornell achieved not just as a songwriter, but as a performer, was unlike virtually anything most had ever seen in the music business, especially in a more mainstream sense. Most of the artists who were doing something like that at that time unfortunately weren’t subjected to exactly the same kind of spectacle as sound gardenor simply unknown to the general masses. But the legacy left by this band could conceivably have a starting point attributed to elements served by stronger than love.
Terry Date wearing the production hat on this record, even with a bit of the typical reverberant 80s flair that also pervaded the 90s, the whole album has a loud, angsty, aggressive tone that probably helped the construction, service and store workers. likewise spinning their keys with much more adrenaline as he played in the background. Chris Cornell mentioned that the band made a point of avoiding typical ’80s production techniques, another factor that likely helped set it apart and give it more of that “outside the box” vibe, even though he would also go on to write the album as “just a few degrees too produced and too clean”, but mentioned he would never change that.
Let’s also not forget that this album featured extensive use of the famous Drop D tuning, so rest assured, this is absolutely a metal record, isn’t it? Not to mention, with an additional note on the “edgy” and rebellion angles discussed in an earlier paragraph, we get interesting, socially conscious lyrical content on tracks like “Hands All Over,” where Cornell mentions how humans defile the environment. It may be strange to apply a sense of rebellion to the idea of respecting and caring for the natural world around us, but unfortunately during this time one had to be a “free thinker” or “progressive to actually give a shit about anything or have empathy of any kind, it seems. In some ways it is still part of the world today. So some things really never change, I guess.
The lyrical dynamic is also interesting in that we have songs that talk about these hard-hitting topics, and then come across tracks like “Full On,” which the band said they titled based on the words used by “a friend who slept with”. another friend’s mother. Likewise, “I Awake” originally featured lyrics that were part of a note written by Hiro Yamamoto’s girlfriend. The fact that we have a good mix of obscurities, moral statements and immature subject matter in the lyrics helps to make this album all the more entertaining, despite this range’s lack of focus.
We may never have another band like sound gardenand that sentiment could probably apply to many of the big names that rose in the late 80s. But, like Dillinger’s Escape Plan Founder and guitarist Ben Weinman noted, recalling seeing the band live and speaking on the news about Cornell’s death in 2017:
‘ThisIt’s interesting – I personally remember the first time I saw the video for “Rusty Cage” at 120 minutes or something, and not being able to headbang because it had a signature strange rhythm. I sat at the side of the stage the other night, counting time signatures and watching the people in the crowd. It’s funny because they really couldn’t butt heads! They were totally into it because they were singing at the same time…but still. It shows you how brilliant Chris Cornell was – he could relate this stuff to normal people. Nobody else really had the guts to do it. Nirvana, Chained Alice: good bands, but they just wrote riffs. sound garden pushed the limits, musically. they say that Nirvana was the grunge punk band, pearl jam was the jam band, Chained Alice was the metal band, but sound garden was the prog group. They were the most innovative.‘ (Source: https://clrvynt.com/chris-cornell-rip/)