It’s no secret that Soundgarden was one of metal’s greatest songwriters, spawning a multitude of timeless classics. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t averse to knocking out the odd cover song every now and then. And some of them were very odd!
But whether ironic, unrecognizable, or true to the originals, they were all, in some way, a tribute to Soundgarden’s favorite songs. Indeed, the last thing the band ever played on that fateful night in Detroit, just hours before Chris Cornell committed suicide, was a Led Zeppelin chorus.‘s In my time to die.
Alas, some of those forays into other people’s music were lost in time until the pre-internet age, like their cover of Low Rider by War or Sweet Child O ‘Mine by Guns N’ Roses – performed a few times live. in 1992. But others have been captured for posterity, either as contraband or occasionally in the studio. Here are some of the best …
Number of Bodies – Cop Killer
The story goes that the 1992 Lollapalooza Ice-T’s Body Count tour has been banned from playing the infamous Cop Killer. But no one thought about banning other bands from playing it, so Soundgarden did, often featuring members of Body Count. “I don’t want to kill any cops, personally, ”Chris Cornell said at this show in Miami, “but I want to make sure everyone lets me write any song I want to write, and everyone lets you buy any song you want to buy. Fair enough.
The Beatles – Come Together
It’s safe to say that you can hear a Beatles influence on every Soundgarden album, and they’ve covered a few of the Liverpudlians’ tracks over the years – including Hey Jude and a heavily modified version of Helter Skelter. This particular cover is on the B side of the single Hands All Over by 1990. It is a bit heavier than the original.
Cheech And Chong – Earache My Eye
Featured on their setlists from 1989, and played intermittently until later 2011, Earache My Eye is proof that despite the nickname Frowngarden, the band actually had a great sense of humor. Delivered as a direct rock tune, it nevertheless contains lines like, ‘My daddy, he denied me ‘because I’m wearing my sister’s clothes / He caught me in the bathroom with a pair of pantyhose on ‘. Surprisingly, he has also been covered by Korn and the Rollins Band.
Fear – I don’t care about you
Guitarist Kim Thayil once declined an invitation to see Fear in Seattle, on the grounds that he would be the only one “brown skin, long hair ”in the audience. This being back when the THE punk legends attracted too many skinheads to ensure his well-being. But that’s not to say Soundgarden weren’t fans, occasionally playing this Fear classic live, as well as recording a studio version.
Howlin ‘Wolf – Chimney Flash
Appearing on Soundgarden’s debut album Ultramega Okay of 1988, the cover of Howlin ‘Wolf was originally a preview clip of Sonic Youth‘Death Valley ‘69, but for some reason this was removed from the 2017 re-edit. Either way, it’s an amazing version, true to the Howlin ‘Wolf spirit, but very akin to Soundgarden.
Ramones – I can’t give you anything
Not only the tour buddies of the Ramones and Soundgarden, on the 1996 Visit of Lollapalooza Chris Cornell and JC Ramone decided to avoid tourist buses in favor of the Harleys, going on several dates on their bikes. Apparently, CJ’s bike broke down a lot. This cover of The Ramones first appeared in the vinyl version of the single Outshined in 1991.
Sex Pistols – Submission
Something a hell of a shit moment! It’s well known that Soundgarden was a fan of the Sex Pistols, but this revival of the Pistols’ submission is a rare find. Extensive research on the interweb suggests that they played it a few times in 1989, and this one comes from CBGB that same year.
Iggy and the Stooges – Seek and Destroy
There appears to be only one example of Soundgarden covering the Stooges TV Eye (at the London Astoria at 1990), but this other Stooges classic made frequent appearances on the setlist in the middle of90s – especially on the Australian tour in 1997. This one comes from a concert in his hometown at the Mercer Arena in Seattle. Oh, for a time machine …
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love
Another rare find: it is Soundgarden which covers the tube Cream Sunshine Of Your Love in Italy, back in 1989. Granted, the audio isn’t that great, probably recorded by a fan rather than the mixer, but it’s still cool to have documented it. And, of course, Soundgarden has put its own stamp on it.
AC / DC – Problem child
Apparently Soundgarden played quite a few covers on it. 1989 tour, and we find them here offering a brilliant rendition of THAT/CC‘s Problem child in Hamburg. Again, it’s not the best sound quality – and given that they’ve played it at least seven times, there might be a better one somewhere – but even so, Chris Cornell’s voice shines.
Tap Spinal – Big Bottom
Even more evidence of the band’s sense of humor comes with this heavy as shit spinal tap cover‘s Great background ‘Talking about fenders, my girl has ‘em! ‘ Indeed, it was a regular part of the setlist throughout the beginning. ‘90s, performed both evenings at Marquee’s legendary shows in London. Mounted at 11!
The Doors – Waiting for the Sun
Among the covers appearing on the compilation Echo Of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path by 2011, this Doors track has just been made for Soundgarden. Played from 1995 up to ‘97, he was resurrected in 2010 during a concert in his hometown at the Seattle Showbox. Superb.
Black Sabbath – Into the Void
Soundgarden were nominated for a GRAMMY for the best metal performance in 1993 for this excellent cover of Sabbath (they lost against Nine Inch Nails). More remarkable, however, is the fact that the original words of Sabbath have been replaced with words of protest from Chief Seattle, a Native American leader for whom the city was named.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
This one might have started as a joke, but there are at least two examples of Soundgarden playing Free Bird. Not that we were lucky to find them, but we found this nice version of Unplugged and Up Close by Chris Cornell from 2013 – registered in Boston. Clearly a spur of the moment, but he manages to remember most of the lyrics.
Devo – Girl you want
Take an original ‘80s hit new wave, slow it down, make it heavy and add the voice of arguably the best rock singer… and you get this amazing deal! So far from the original it might as well be from another planet. Soundgarden could make it that easy.
Posted on March 3, 2021 at 3:58 p.m.