Down on the Upside is the fifth and final album by the American alternative rock band Soundgarden, released on May 21, 1996 through A&M Records. Following a worldwide tour in support of its previous album, Superunknown, released in 1994, the band commenced work on a new album. The music on the album was notably less heavy than the group's preceding albums and featured the band experimenting with other sounds.
The album debuted at number two on the Billboard charts and spawned the singles "Pretty Noose", "Burden in My Hand", "Blow Up the Outside World", and "Ty Cobb". The band took a slot on the 1996 Lollapalooza tour and afterward supported the album with a worldwide tour. Down on the Upside would end up becoming Soundgarden's final studio album as tensions within the band led to its break-up in April 1997. The album has been certified Platinum in the United States.
Work on the album began in July 1995. The band took a break to perform at some festivals in Europe, where some of the new material was road-tested. Afterward, the band did some more songwriting for about a month and then recorded most of the album at Studio Litho. The overall approach to songwriting was less collaborative than with past efforts, with the band members having brought in most of the songs more completely written. The band sought to try things it had not done before and to use a greater variety of material. The band tried to create a live atmosphere for the album, and looked to leave in sounds that producers would normally try to clean up, such as feedback and out-of-tune guitar parts. The overall time spent working on the album was less than what the band had spent working on Superunknown. Cornell described the album-making process as "way faster and way easier".
Most of the material was written by Cornell and bassist Ben Shepherd, the latter having lyrically and/or musically written six of the sixteen album tracks. Reportedly, tensions within the group arose during the recording sessions, with guitarist Kim Thayil and Cornell allegedly clashing over Cornell's desire to shift away from the heavy guitar riffing that had become the band's trademark. Thayil's only contribution to the album was the song "Never the Machine Forever", for which he wrote both the lyrics and the music, and which was also the last song the band recorded. The song initially came out of a jamming session Thayil had with Seattle musician Greg Gilmore. (In the liner notes, Thayil credits Gilmore for inspiring the song). Thayil stated that he had a lot of incomplete music ideas that were missing lyrics and were not arranged, so they did not make the album. Thayil said, "It can be a little bit discouraging if there isn't satisfactory creative input, but on the other hand, I write all the solo bits and don't really have limitations on the parts I come up with for guitar." Cornell said, "By the time we were finished, it felt like it had been kind of hard, like it was a long, hard haul. But there was stuff we were discovering."
The band explained at the time that it wanted to experiment with other sounds (for example, the song "Ty Cobb" features Shepherd and Cornell playing mandolin and mandola). This experimentation can be heard to a lesser degree on the band's previous album Superunknown. Soundgarden utilized alternative tunings and odd time signatures on several of the album's songs. For example, "Never the Machine Forever" uses a time signature of 9/8. "Pretty Noose" and "Burden in My Hand" were written in C-G-C-G-G-E tuning.
The overall mood of the album's lyrics isn't as dark as on previous Soundgarden albums. According to Cornell, "Pretty Noose" is about "an attractively packaged bad idea, and "Ty Cobb" is about a "hardcore pissed-off idiot." Cornell said that the songs "Never Named" and "Boot Camp" are based on his childhood. The lyrics for "Never the Machine Forever" were written by Thayil, who said that the song is about "a life-and-death match between an individual and a less specifically defined entity."
Rolling Stone gave Down on the Upside three out of five stars. Reviewer David Fricke observed that the album has "some quality frenzy," but criticized it for "lack[ing] defining episodes of catharsis." Fricke said, "Soundgarden seem to be digging in their heels rather than kicking up dirt, relying too much on drone-y impressionism and clever (as opposed to cleaving) guitar motifs. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B+. Browne said, "Few bands since Led Zeppelin have so crisply mixed instruments both acoustic and electric." He praised several songs as being "as powerful as anything the band has done." Browne criticized the album's production, saying "like many self-produced efforts, it shows." He added, "With arrangements that crest and fall to the point where a road map would have helped, the overlong (16-song) album is often unwieldy and could have benefited from judicious trimming. Critic Robert Christgau called the album "brutal depression simplified, while Jason Josephes of Pitchfork Media called it a "double shot of grunge, no foam but plenty of caffeine.
Down on the Upside included the singles "Pretty Noose", "Burden in My Hand", and "Blow Up the Outside World", all of which had accompanying music videos. All three placed on the Billboard Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts. The album's other commercially released single, "Ty Cobb", did not chart, however its acommpanying B-side, "Rhinosaur", also from the album, did chart. "Burden in My Hand" was the most successful song from Down on the Upside on the rock charts, reaching number one on the Mainstream Rock charts and number two on the Modern Rock charts. The lead single, "Pretty Noose", was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1997.
The title Down on the Upside comes from a line in the song "Dusty". The lyric is "I think it's turning back on me/I'm down on the upside". Cornell said that the title represents the different feels on the album. In an interview Cornell explained how the name was chosen: "I brought it up at some point because the song that the title came from was "Dusty", but my title for it was Down on the Upside, but Ben wrote the music and he called it "Dusty". So since we don't really like having song titles being the title of the record, 'cause it brings this weird, undue focus to the song, I thought it would be cool to call it Down on the Upside. We started thinking about all these other titles, and worrying about them describing the whole record without excluding anything...So it was the last minute and we were at a photo shoot for Spin and someone called and said, 'We need your title now so we can start doing the record package,' so Matt [Cameron] brought up the title again, and everyone went, 'yeah, that's it.' According to an interview with the band, two other titles considered for the album were Mr. Bunchy Pants and Comin' At Ya!
The album was also released in a limited edition with the Into the Upside interview disc. The interview among other things is available at the Unofficial Soundgarden Homepage
After Lollapalooza, the band embarked on a worldwide tour. Tensions continued to increase during the band's ensuing tour in support of the album. When asked if the band hated touring, Cornell said, "We really enjoy it to a point and then it gets tedious, because it becomes repetitious. You feel like fans have paid their money and they expect you to come out and play them your songs like the first time you ever played them. That's the point where we hate touring." The band was criticized for its lack of energy while performing. Cornell said that "after a number of years, you start to feel like you're acting. All those people who criticize us for not jumping around should shut the fuck up, and when they come to our shows they should jump around and entertain us for a while. Thayil had an issue with how the band's audience had changed, stating that "nowadays, you also have the kids and the housewives, the casual fans. With your casual fans, you say, 'Thanks for the money.' And they say, 'Thanks for the song.'" The band's concerts in December 1996 were postponed for a week due to Cornell's throat problems.
At the tour's final stop in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 9, 1997, Shepherd threw his bass into the air in frustration after suffering equipment failure, and subsequently stormed off the stage. The band retreated, with Cornell returning to conclude the show with a solo encore. On April 9, 1997, the band announced its disbanding. Thayil said, "It was pretty obvious from everybody's general attitude over the course of the previous half year that there was some dissatisfaction.
|1996||Australian Albums Chart||1|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||1|
|US Billboard 200||2|
|Swedish Albums Chart||3|
|Canadian Albums Chart||4|
|Finnish Albums Chart||4|
|Norwegian Albums Chart||6|
|UK Albums Chart||7|
|Dutch Albums Chart||12|
|German Albums Chart||15|
|Belgian Albums Chart (Vl)||18|
|Belgian Albums Chart (Wa)||19|
|Austrian Albums Chart||19|
|Swiss Albums Chart||20|
|Hungarian Albums Chart||34|
|French Albums Chart||44|
|1996||"Pretty Noose"||US Modern Rock Tracks||2|
|US Mainstream Rock Tracks||4|
|Finnish Singles Chart||10|
|UK Singles Chart||14|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||18|
|Australian Singles Chart||22|
|Swedish Singles Chart||42|
|Canadian Singles Chart||43|
|Swiss Singles Chart||47|
|"Burden in My Hand"||US Mainstream Rock Tracks||1|
|US Modern Rock Tracks||2|
|Canadian Singles Chart||9|
|UK Singles Chart||33|
|"Blow Up the Outside World"||US Mainstream Rock Tracks||1|
|US Modern Rock Tracks||8|
|UK Singles Chart||40|
|Canadian Singles Chart||89|
|1997||"Rhinosaur"||US Mainstream Rock Tracks||19|
Stained Glass? Boston's first Apple flagship store is coming soon to the Back Bay - a smooth, clear jewel box of a building - and it promises to be the Hub's most exciting piece of retail architecture in years. Its arrival shows that Boston wants contemporary design to blend in with the historic. But there may be a flaw - not in Apple's vision, but in the city's.
Feb 11, 2007; When Apple's new boston flagship store opens its doors at 815 Boylston Street later this year, expect mania. Apple devotees,...