Audioslave, Audioslave (2002)
The problem with Audioslave was in the packaging – such a conscious attempt to build a supergroup; to come off like some new millennial Led Zeppelin. I liked the first album a wee bit – at the time. But didn’t think the band would ever last. I was surprised when a second album arrived – and that third album seemed just a little too rushed, right? So why have I got this album on vinyl? Well, I was given a copy, sealed, at the time of release. The Sony rep gave me a copy. You want an idea of how much the industry has changed in a rather short time: back then Sony had a travelling rep and he gave me a sealed copy of a brand new album (on vinyl). Now they do not have a travelling rep and they won’t speak to me; they ignore requests for review-product and they tweet in anger when I voice an opinion about Foo Fighters. Oh well. I don’t think I’m missing out on a lot. Perhaps what’s really sad is that Audioslave is one of the last original bands signed by Sony – and their sound was designed in a lab before the band ever formed. Take vestiges of Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine and play them Led Zep albums. It really was that simple. Hard to know whether it was the members of Soundgarden and Rage sitting around smoking blows going, “we should form a band maaan” or whether the suits that signed Rage and then wondered why it was diminishing returns when they continued to rock-rap their way through each album were the ones sitting around smoking blows going “we should form a band maaan – let’s get that Cornell guy and have him not rap with those guys from RATM”. Either story works. I saw the gig when they came to New Zealand. I thought they nailed it – as much as a blackboard supergroup with one album can. Chris Cornell is such a great live vocalist and the Rage guys sounded ominous. But there just weren’t enough good songs to outlive the simple marketing exercise. My vinyl copy of the band’s self-titled debut has been sitting, sealed, in a crate for nearly a decade. It gave me the idea to build up a crate of records that stayed sealed and visitors to the house could choose their favourite. They would all be albums that I could at least tolerate, some would be my favourites. It started, somewhat unremarkably, with Audioslave. A friend was visiting last weekend – he opened it and gave it a spin. He’s always been a fan. I sat down and worked through the album – a double, four sides of vinyl – and I still really liked the opener, Cochise. And Show Me How To Live. The softer ballad, Like A Stone, has held up well. I don’t know – I’ll probably never play it again, there’s no real need to but they did a good job on debut. And the sample track below…well, that just might be the band’s best song. Ripe for a decent cover I reckon.
Sample Track: I Am The Highway