Soundgarden

Stolen Prayers

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Stolen Prayers is a bootleg that collects ten unreleased Soundgarden demos (in reality, the majority are one-man demos by vocalist/guitarist Chris Cornell), with two live tracks tacked on. Although the songs themselves are all strong compositions, the bootleg's quality varies wildly throughout. Split into four sections -- "Superunknown Demos," "Chris Cornell Solo -- Songs for Ozzy," "Temple of the Dog Demos," and "Soundgarden Live -- Kitsap, WA 06/94" -- Stolen Prayers shows the many facets of Cornell's songwriting talents. Beginning with four stripped-down demos for the 1994 breakthrough Superunknown album, they are the best-sounding on the whole disc (obviously taped off either the master or an early-generation copy). Included is at least one gem, the gentle ballad "Fluttergirl" (hopefully this track will see the light of day on a future Cornell solo album), as well as the haunting "Nowhere But You," a mid-paced rocker called "Missing," and a great, bare take of the hit "Spoonman."

The "Songs for Ozzy" demos are just what it says, songs that Cornell wrote for Ozzy Osbourne to record, but still have yet to be used. Which is a shame, since outstanding tracks like the title track, "Heartfist," and "Unholy War" would likely become instant Ozzy classics. The first couple of tracks are of good quality, but the final one was copied from a warped tape, and annoyingly fades in and out throughout. "Temple of the Dog Demos" were songs intended for the classic 1991 Temple of the Dog album, and features two great tracks that would have fit perfectly on the album. Included is the Rolling Stones-esque "Black Cat" (which includes interesting percussion work), the invigorating melodic pop of "Angel On Fire," and an early version of the jamfest "Reach Down." Tacked on the end of Stolen Prayers are a couple of lo-fi songs from an early stop on the Superunknown tour, "Black Hole Sun" and "Head Down" (sneakily taped by an audience member). If the sound quality was more consistent, Stolen Prayers would easily prove essential to any fan of Soundgarden and/or Chris Cornell.

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