Soundgarden

A-Sides

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For an act that was one of the definitive album artists of the late '80s and '90s, Soundgarden was a surprisingly effective singles band. Their singles effectively conveyed all of their best ideas, from their sludgy early Sub Pop recordings to the elaborate, post-metal psychedelia of their last two albums, Superunknown and Down on the Upside. That's the reason why the 17-track compilation A-Sides is such a successful overview of the band's too-brief career. Most of their peers wouldn't be well represented by a compilation that concentrated solely on singles, but Soundgarden are, because their singles do capture what they're all about. There are many great songs left off A-Sides, from "Big Dumb Sex" to "My Wave," but it's hard to argue with what's here. Each single from every album -- from the 1987 debut EP Screaming Life through SST's Ultramega OK, to their four records for A&M -- is here, with the Down on the Upside outtake "Bleed Together" added as an enticement for collectors. Almost every one of the group's best-known songs are here, including "Hands All Over," "Loud Love," "Jesus Christ Pose," "Outshined," "Rusty Cage," "Black Hole Sun," "The Day I Tried to Live," "Spoonman," "Fell on Black Days," "Pretty Noose," "Burden in My Hand," and "Blow Up the Outside World," resulting in a near-definitive summary of one of the most important and influential bands of the '90s.

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