In about 12 hours or so, the editor of Rocks Off expects to be a very happy man. One of our favorite bands of all time, and one that we haven't seen live in almost 17 years, is playing tonight at Bayou Music Center: Soundgarden.
Certainly Soundgarden has a lot to recommend them. Guitarist Kim Thayil can grind out riffs so abrasive and sludgy they practially make sparks shoot out of the strings, but he can also get into some pretty mystical soloing territory. The bass and drums combine to create a hulking sonic dreadnought, but let's be real here: lots of '90s bands did that.
What set Soundgarden apart was singer Chris Cornell's ungodly wail of a voice, a sexy shriek that made him the grunge era's natural heir to Robert "Big Log" Plant. Impressively, it's hardly lost a hint of its range or banshee-like force in the years between the band's previous studio album Down On the Upside (from 1996) and last year's fairly triumphant return King Animal.
Thus Cornell is our own personal choice for the greatest rock singer of the '90s. Of course there are others -- that Cobain guy, L7's Donita Sparks, the Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli was always a personal favorite. (And R.I.P. Layne Staley.) So of course we thought about ranking our choices for that decade's best vocalists, but decided... nah. We'd much rather throw some shade on the people we didn't like all that much even when they were "popular."