Superunknown by Soundgarden


Long sleeves and shorts. Classic.

Today’s Essential Record is Superunknown  by Soundgarden.  The 1990’s were a revival of guitar rock, and Soundgarden were at the forefront.  Heavy riffs, catchy melodies, odd meters, and unusual tunings make this record a classic.

The album’s recording sessions took place from July 1993 to September 1993 at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, Washington. The band worked with producer Michael Beinhorn.  The album was mixed by Brendan O’Brien.

Soundgarden utilized alternative tunings and odd time signatures on several of the album’s songs. “Spoonman”, “Black Hole Sun”, “Let Me Drown” and “Kickstand” were performed in drop D tuning while “Mailman” and “Limo Wreck” employed CGDGBE tuning. Some songs used more unorthodox tunings: “My Wave” and “The Day I Tried to Live” are both in a EEBBBB tuning. “Head Down” and “Half” used CGCGGE tuning and “Like Suicide” is performed in DGDGBC tuning. Soundgarden’s use of odd time signatures was varied as well; “My Wave” uses 5/4, “Fell On Black Days” is in 6/4, “Limo Wreck” is played in 15/8, “The Day I Tried to Live” and “Spoonman” both alternate between 7/4 and 4/4 sections, and “Black Hole Sun” is in 4/4 and 9/8. Thayil has said that Soundgarden usually did not consider the time signature of a song until after the band had written it, and said that the use of odd meters was “a total accident.”

The longtime bassist of Soundgarden is Ben Shepherd.  Great player, huge sound, thunderous bass lines.  On this record he is playing his 1972 Fender Jazz Bass.  He uses drop D tuning on many of the songs (DADG) which helps create the dark and ominous sound of his bass lines.  A true classic.  Check it out.

Superunknown by Soundgarden

1.  “Let Me Drown”   0:00
2.  “My Wave” 3:53
3.  “Fell on Black Days” 9:04
4.  “Mailman”  13:47
5.  “Superunknown” 18:13
6.  “Head Down”  23:19
7.  “Black Hole Sun”  29:28
8.  “Spoonman”  34:46
9.  “Limo Wreck”  38:52
10.  “The Day I Tried to Live” 44:40
11.  “Kickstand” 49:59
12.  “Fresh Tendrils” 51:34
13.  “4th of July” 55:50
14.  “Half”  1:00:58
15.  “Like Suicide”  1:03:12
16. “She Likes Surprises” 1:10:24

Ben Shepherd on his 1972 Fender Jazz Bass