Soundgarden

Telephantasm

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Since so much of Soundgarden’s legacy lay in the years before their superstardom, their major label-oriented 1997 A-Sides compilation didn’t quite do them justice. Although it contained cuts from the years before they signed to A&M, A-Sides downplayed the first act of their story, so the 2010 compilation Telephantasm is quite welcome, at least in its double disc incarnation where there’s enough room to capture the entire arc of the group’s career. Not only is there a heavy dose of their SST and SubPop recordings but there is a strategic deployment of live cuts, BBC sessions, single versions and rarities, including the previously unreleased outtake “Black Rain,” all of which capture the band at their heaviest, a shift that’s particularly notable toward the end of their career, with “Pretty Noose” and “Blow Up The Outside World” present in rawer versions than their studio incarnations. This may not satisfy a casual fan who wants to hear versions played on the radio, but the entirety of Telephantasm winds up being something better than a hits collection: it captures the essence of the band, why they were important and why they still sound powerful some twenty years later. [This deluxe set also includes a bonus DVD containing all of Soundgarden’s music videos, including several alternate versions of familiar clips.]

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