For both the casual observer and the dedicated follower, it’s somewhat surprising that Soundgarden have never before released a live album. Known for their intense, and often unpredictable, shows, Live on I-5 marks the first time the seminal Seattleites’ live set has been captured on a full-length recording; as a result of the band’s 2010 reunion, a number of professionally-recorded tapes from their 1996 west coast tour were unearthed, dusted off and remastered courtesy of long-time producer Adam Kaspar. Shortly after their original recording, Soundgarden disbanded and, as a result, the fruits of their collective labour have remained unheard, until now.
On the heels of Soundgarden’s 2010 reunion, which included a retrospective released in time for that year’s holidays, the group dug their scrapped 1996 live album out of the vault and prepped it for release as 2011’s Live on I-5. These tapes never came out in the late ‘90s because the band fell apart, leaving the project abandoned, and there is just the slightest scent of mold on Live on I-5; it is not quite prime Soundgarden; the band is pushing their OK 1996 effort Down on the Upside, and while there isn’t much palpable tension in the performances, they’re not quite inspired, either. The group is in full-fledged pro mode, hitting their marks with efficiency and occasional power if not much flair.
Soundgarden’s Live On I-5 was recorded on the West Coast leg of the band’s 1996 tour. The title alludes to the arterial stretch of highway that connects the various nights the performances are pulled from. If it was all one show, an alt rock time capsule that captured their ironic peak during grunge’s slow slide from Cobain’s death towards obscurity, it would be an interesting trip back to our collective musical past.
The announcement of Soundgarden's 2010 reunion was exciting on several counts; first, that meant Chris Cornell would stop his fucking around with Audioslave and Timbaland. But more importantly it would be the return of the only band that really sounds like Soundgarden. While Bush, Godsmack, and Creed spawned from the most easily cloned DNA of Soundgarden's peers, few bands attempted to possess either the chops of their SST days or the dexterous, expansive pop-metal that would come later.
Great live album from the reformed rockers’ 1996 US tour. Greg Moffitt 2011 The first ever live album from Seattle grunge pioneers Soundgarden should have appeared years ago, literally. Recorded at various locations during a 1996 US tour, Live on I-5 was intended for release the following year. Sadly, after the band split in April 1997, the tapes were left to gather dust on a studio shelf and even now have probably only been unearthed in the wake of last year’s reunion.