India Uncut

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Guilty Pleasures 3 -- Hunger Strike by Temple of the Dog

If I ever compiled a soundtrack for my college years, this song would be one of the first I'd pick. Temple of the Dog came about when a bunch of guys came together in Seattle to write and release a tribute to Andrew Wood, the lead singer of a band called Mother Love Bone, who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. His bandmates from MLB, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, joined Chris Cornell, Wood's one-time room-mate, along with Matt Cameron on drums. Grunge hadn't broken into the mainstream yet, but soon all these men would become household names: Cornell and Cameron were part of Soundgarden, while Gossard and Ament would go on to form Pearl Jam.

Eddie Vedder had flown down to Seattle to audition for Pearl Jam, and sang on a couple of tracks on the eponymous album, including Hunger Strike. I first heard this song months after it came out, when I'd already gotten into Pearl Jam and Soundgarden: what a thrill it was to listen to Cornell and Vedder sing on the same track! And how perfectly structured this was as a rock song! I didn't care much for the lyrics, but that hardly mattered.

Temple of the Dog - Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike

It's common to refer to Temple of the Dog as a 'supergroup' (as here), but I'm not sure how much meaning that term had in a scene where there was so much cross-pollination among bands. Mother Love Bone was itself formed out of splinters from the legendary Green River (Gossard, Ament and Bruce Fairweather) and Malfunkshun (Wood), with Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Green River forming Mudhoney. After Soundgarden split up, Cameron would join Pearl Jam, while Cornell came together with Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave. I suppose some people would call it, like the blogosphere, 'incestuous!'

Earlier Guilty Pleasures: Lost Cause by Beck, Aao Na from Kyun Ho Gaya Na.
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