Sound — 9
With Soundgarden making a comeback in 2010 with a reunion, it only seemed right to issue a live disc a year later, right? The Seattle grunge rockers think so and there isn't really a reason to disagree with their actions. Live On I-5, the group's first live record, takes all the staples of Soundgarden that have maimed them as a role model and one of grunge's fathers, and in a very unsophisticated way, throws it in your face over a course of almost 80 minutes. To further prove the album is far from a marketing tool designed to erase thoughts of Chris Cornell trying to fit in with all the present day cool kids, the production value is more than acceptable. Having been recorded during the West Coast leg of Soundgarden's 1996 tour, Live On I-5 pitches the group in five different cities, show each gig was worth witnessing in it's entirety. Seattle subdues with lazed classics that emphasize the quartet's stoner rock tag ("Head Down", "Nothing To Say") while Del Mar chokes you with everything you wish you could see live as a 10-year-old: raw power chords, raucous rhythms and an explosive frontman at the helm of it all. Thanks to "Slaves & Bulldozers" and "Fell On Black Days", the recordings at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center maintain the edge but take it to a personal level, a trait concert discs try to accomplish through excessive crowd noises.
Lyrics — 8
It's a shame some of those who like music will remember Chris Cornell for Audioslave and Scream. While not showboating it disrespectfully, Live On The I-5 portrays the side of Cornell many will always know: the common man drowning a pool of thoughts he can only discuss to the tune of instruments fighting each other. "Searching With The Good Eye Closed" and "Rusty Cage" show this well and even after a few listens, outshine "Spoonman" and the Iggy Pop cover "Search And Destroy". Cornell's growl does drop off a bit as the venue changes, though it doesn't do it for too long, keeping ears perked and intrigued. The 17 tracks don't show the Soundgarden vocalist at his absolute best but they do provide a glimpse of what used to be, and by that, what used to cause booze-fueled audiences to erupt into a frenzy.
Overall Impression — 9
Soundgarden were known for a few things in their long career. Having been born in the right time, they spearheaded the grunge movement. Because of their early material, they inspired musicians, both old (Nirvana's Kurt Cobain) and new (Dillinger Escape Plan). They even played hooky with pop culture, being ranked as one of the top hard rock artists of all-time and injecting life in video game soundtracks (see: Road Rash). Though constricted to one disc, Live On I-5 represents the group's accomplishments and therefore shouldn't be seen as a tool churning out royalties. The album is a memoir about a band fans used to know and one others hope they can watch at the same intensity before time jumps in as a factor.