Temple of the Dog (album)
|Temple of the Dog|
|Studio album by Temple of the Dog|
|Released||April 16, 1991|
|Recorded||November–December 1990 at London Bridge Studios, Seattle, Washington|
|Genre||Alternative rock, grunge|
|Producer||Rick Parashar, Temple of the Dog|
|Singles from Temple of the Dog|
Temple of the Dog is the only studio album by the American rock band Temple of the Dog, released on April 16, 1991 through A&M Records. The album is a tribute to Andrew Wood, the former lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, who died on March 19, 1990 of a heroin overdose. The album has been certified platinum by the RIAA in the United States.
Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who had been Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood's roommate, approached former Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament about working on material he had written when he was on tour with Soundgarden in Europe. The line-up eventually included Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and newcomers Mike McCready (lead guitar) and Eddie Vedder (background vocals). McCready and Vedder were featured on the album due to their involvement with Ament and Gossard's next project, which became Pearl Jam. The name Temple of the Dog is derived from the opening lyrics of the Mother Love Bone song "Man of Golden Words", "I want to show you something, like joy inside my heart, seems I been living in the temple of the dog".
The recording sessions took place from November 1990 to December 1990 at London Bridge Studios, in Seattle, Washington. The album was recorded in only 15 days. The group worked with producer Rick Parashar, who also engineered, mixed and played piano. Two songs on the album, "Reach Down" and "Say Hello 2 Heaven", were written in response to Wood's death, while other songs on the album were written by Cornell on tour prior to Wood's death or re-worked from existing material from demos written by Gossard and Ament.
Ament described the collaboration as "a really good thing at the time" for him and Gossard that put them into a "band situation where we could play and make music." Gossard described the recording process as a "non-pressure filled" situation, as there were no expectations or pressure coming from the record company. Gossard later said it was "the easiest and most beautiful record, that we've ever been involved with."
This was the first recording studio experience for McCready and Vedder. Regarding McCready, Cornell said, "You almost kind of had to yell at him to get him to realize that in the five-and-a-half minute solo of "Reach Down", that was his time and that he wasn't going to be stepping on anybody else." The song "Hunger Strike" became a duet between Cornell and Vedder. Cornell was having trouble with the vocals at practice, when Vedder stepped in. Cornell later said "he sang half of that song not even knowing that I'd wanted the part to be there and he sang it exactly the way I was thinking about doing it, just instinctively."
Music and lyrics
A sample of "Hunger Strike", the first single released from the album. The song was written by Cornell and features a duet between Cornell and Vedder.
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The recorded material was slow and melodic; much different musically from the aggressive rock music Cornell had been doing with Soundgarden. The songs bear the street-rock flavor of Mother Love Bone's music. Steve Huey of Allmusic said that the "record sounds like a bridge between Mother Love Bone's theatrical '70s-rock updates and Pearl Jam's hard-rocking seriousness...Keeping in mind that Soundgarden's previous album was the overblown metallic miasma of Louder Than Love, the accessibly warm, relatively clean sound of Temple of the Dog is somewhat shocking, and its mellower moments are minor revelations in terms of Cornell's songwriting abilities."
All of the lyrics on the album were written solely by Cornell. "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down" were written by Cornell in direct response to Andrew Wood's death. Lyrically, the rest of the songs on the album cover a variety of topics. Cornell stated that the lyrics for "Hunger Strike" express "somewhat of a political, socialist statement."
Release and reception
Temple of the Dog was released on April 16, 1991 through A&M Records and initially sold 70,000 copies in the United States. The album received favorable reviews, but failed to chart. In the summer of 1992, the album received new attention. Although it had been released more than a year earlier, A&M Records realized that they had in their catalog what was essentially a collaboration between Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, who had both risen to mainstream attention in the months since the album's release with their respective albums, Badmotorfinger and Ten. A&M decided to reissue the album and promote "Hunger Strike" as a single, with an accompanying music video. The attention allowed both the album and single to chart on the Billboard 200 album chart, and resulted in a boost in album sales. Temple of the Dog was among the 100 top selling albums of 1992. Temple of the Dog has sold over 1,000,000 copies in the United States according to Nielsen SoundScan, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA.
Allmusic staff writer Steve Huey gave the album four and a half out of five stars, saying, "The album's strength is its mournful, elegiac ballads, but thanks to the band's spontaneous creative energy and appropriately warm sound, it's permeated by a definite, life-affirming aura." Rolling Stone staff writer David Fricke gave Temple of the Dog four out of five stars, saying, "For "Hunger Strike" and "Reach Down" alone, Temple of the Dog deserves immortality; those songs are proof that the angst that defined Seattle rock in the 1990s was not cheap sentiment, at least in the beginning. And you can't help but love the irony of an album, made in great sadness, kick-starting the last great pop mutiny of the twentieth century." David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B+. Browne said, "Maybe because the musicians avoid the often-labored anthems they play with their own bands, the songs sound relaxed and airy without losing any of the crunch or drive of the best arena rock." He ended by stating, "Singer Chris Cornell's lyrics remain as annoyingly oblique as they are with Soundgarden, but don't worry. Just sit back and revel in the whomping guitars of Mike McCready and Love Bone member Stone Gossard as they mesh with the imaginative pummeling of Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron—the untamed side of the much-hyped Seattle sound, in all its wailing glory."
Temple of the Dog included the singles "Hunger Strike", "Say Hello 2 Heaven", and "Pushin Forward Back". The lead single "Hunger Strike" was the most successful song from Temple of the Dog on the rock charts, reaching number four on the Mainstream Rock charts and number seven on the Modern Rock charts. "Say Hello 2 Heaven" also charted on the Mainstream Rock charts.
The album's cover art features a black and white picture of the band.
All lyrics written by Chris Cornell, all music composed by Cornell, except where noted.
|1.||"Say Hello 2 Heaven"||6:22|
|4.||"Pushin Forward Back"||Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard||3:44|
|5.||"Call Me a Dog"||5:02|
|6.||"Times of Trouble"||Gossard||5:41|
|9.||"Four Walled World"||Gossard||6:53|
|10.||"All Night Thing"||3:52|
|US Billboard 200||5|
|Canadian Albums Chart||11|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions|
|"Say Hello 2 Heaven"||5||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes singles that did not chart.|
|Kerrang!||United Kingdom||"100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die"||1998||58|
|Rolling Stone||Germany||"The 500 Best Albums of All Time"||2004||474|
|Visions||Germany||"The Most Important Albums of the 90s"||1999||10|
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