Live on I-5

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On the heels of Soundgarden’s 2010 reunion, which included a retrospective released in time for that year’s holidays, the group dug their scrapped 1996 live album out of the vault and prepped it for release as 2011’s Live on I-5. These tapes never came out in the late ‘90s because the band fell apart, leaving the project abandoned, and there is just the slightest scent of mold on Live on I-5; it is not quite prime Soundgarden; the band is pushing their OK 1996 effort Down on the Upside, and while there isn’t much palpable tension in the performances, they’re not quite inspired, either. The group is in full-fledged pro mode, hitting their marks with efficiency and occasional power if not much flair. If anything, the 15-year delay-numerals nicely dovetail with the salute to the Pacific Coast freeway I-5, making these tapes sound better than they would have back in the ‘90s. Then it would have seemed like a perfunctory afterthought; now, it is a reminder that at one point, Soundgarden was a clean, efficient machine.

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