People heap a lot of manure on early Soundgarden, and for me it isn’t justified. The music in real need of a good kick up the proverbial is that of the Pixies and more significantly Nirvana, who only really acheived cult status because of the never the less tragic death of Kurt Cobain. For a debut EP, as the cliche goes, this really isn’t all that bad. To someone elses ears, I hope. But to me, it is absolutely amazing. Soundgarden were obviously four men with a lot of anger inside them, and they really let it out, allowing for the darker, brooding yet equally great work on UltraMegaOK. From the pounding distortion of Hunted Down, onto the frenetic, blistering punk of Entering and Tears to Forget, the first three songs of Screaming Life allow Soundgarden to get a lot of their stomachs, whether it be in Cornells raging but coherent lyrics, Thayils aggressive but dexterous guitar work, or Camerons powerful and inventive drumming. Then comes the atmospheric heaviness of Nothing to Say, and one of the most interesting rhythms I’ve ever come across as a drummer, combined with the intricate guitar solo and almost narrative vocal style of Little Joe. The frenetic and scratchy rhythmic guitar and lyrics of Hand of God bring the first EP to a regrettable end, as then three cover versions overshadow the twisty pyscho-delia of Kingdom of Come.Some may critise the lack of variety of this album, but surely when you compare it to ‘Nu Metal’ you have to admit that at least Soundgarden displayed genuine attitude and defiance, and the lyrics are cerebral at the same time as being angry. What it may lack in melodic structure, it makes up for in atmosphere, and you can hardly claim that Soundgarden were just a mere 4 chord band.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
The first half of this CD (Screaming Life EP) is ideal early Soundgarden–a little rough around the edges, but it has some good metal tracks (“Hand of God” has some of the best guitar solos) and trademark Chris Cornell wailing, like in “Entering,” “Tears to Forget,” and “Nothing to Say,” though the middle song sounds more like AC/DC. However, the remaining half of this CD (Fopp EP) is pretty short and skippable, though “Fopp” is an unexpectedly fun song, both versions. Even though “Screaming Life/Fopp” is one of my least listened to Soundgarden CDs, it’s still worth checking out if you’re a diehard Soundgarden fan.
Perhaps not the ideal release for those who are yet uninitiated with Soundgarden, in my opinion the best band to emerge from the Seattle crucible in the late 80s/early 90s, but nonetheless a worthwhile purchase given the price. Seemingly against the grain of opinion from earlier reviews, I prefer the Fopp EP over Screaming Life – Fopp itself being one of my favourite Soundgarden songs and criminally left off the ‘A-sides’ compilation (which is puzzling given the fact that it was an A-side track, though the A-side ‘My Wave’ from superunknown was treated similarly).If you are new to Soundgarden, then I suggest you begin with ‘A-sides’ or, if like me you are averse to buying greatest hits albums, then Superunknown. If you own all the other albums and are are still passionate about the music, for the price Screaming Life/Fopp is a worthwhile purchase.
No matter what anyone says, this is an absolutely awesome record, especially considering it’s the first record Soundgarden put out. Screaming Life is clearly the highlight of the two EPs, so I’ll talk about that first.A lot of people insult the scratchy, almost “ghetto” sound of the songs on this record, but if you bought it on vinyl, you’d know that that’s just a result of the cd not being digitally remastered. You CAN’T hold that against the band. What’s left beneath that is some absolutely gorgeous music. Nothing to Say, Hunted Down, and Entering are some of the best Soundgarden songs ever written, and in my opinion, some of the best rock songs ever written. In those songs there is undeniable skill from all sides–vocals, drums, bass, and guitar. What more could you ask for?Now the Fopp EP…Soundgarden had this tendency to make fun of things via imitation, but then at the end it looked like they were serious (take “Big Dumb Sex” on Louder than Love for example). Fopp is the same way…it’s a joke. Swallow My Pride, on the other hand, is a classic grunge song, written by Green River. Half of the bands that matter have covered it, so it’s only proper that Soundgarden did too.In all fairness, I can see why some “Soungarden fans” don’t like this. But if you fall in that category, take a step back and acknowledge that you’re just a casual Soungarden listener, because any real fan knows that this record is genuine, unfiltered Soundgarden. Maybe you should go give Audioslave a shot instead.
….at least in the case for Soundgarden, who made their music debut with “Screaming Life/FOPP” in 1987. Gosh, how long ago does that time seem? Long before Grunge-Music was established as the popular alternative-rock stuff that many different types of people love and could relate to. At the time, I’m sure Soundgarden (like most other artists starting out on their career path) had no idea where this little ditty would lead. As a longtime fan of the band, I can say with complete confidence that I’m glad this disc has landed in my hands! I enjoy every track enormously, but probably “Nothing To Say” and “Hunted Down” would classify as a tie between the title of ‘Favorite Album Track.’
On the surface, one could look at this album as an extended demo. The band clearly had a flair from the outset for producing great guitar/bass riffs and solos, plus phenomenally moving vocals. What I heard here not only shows the greatness that would follow in the years and albums ahead, but also stands there as a fine monument to a great piece of work on its own. All the tracks flow together nicely, and there is alot of time on each track for just instrumental jamming (which allows the listener to drift off into energized meditation). I like the fact that the lyrical content was not altogether deep, because truly the SOUND of Soundgarden is what makes them who they are. The band creates an almost water-color-painting feel of harmony with each tune they play. One may not understand the full lyrical meaning behind the action, but they will love the action itself as fun and uplifting. This album makes you want to run around and dance (perfect to play when exercising).
Surprisingly, I find myself enjoying it alot more than their other LPs (which is not to say the rest of the classic stuff doesn’t have staying power on its own, because it certainly does). For a “new” group on the Seattle music scene, Soundgarden sounds incredibly polished and gifted with their introduction EP. And what I admire the most is what they would later release is not that far removed from their beginning roots (that shows true artistic sensibility and truthfulness to the work).
I give “Screaming Life/FOPP” 5 stars easy and would raise the bar if I could. If you are a fan of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell or Audioslave or just heavy rock fans in general with powerhouse playing and singing, I would urge you to pick up this great item and add it your everyday listening life. One can hear the Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin roots, but also 70s hard rock too (like Alice Cooper) in this disc. I assure you that you won’t be disappointed, and once the disc is done playing you will have a smile on your face and will gladly press the start button again …. ENJOY!!