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A solid debut effort. - 80%

erickg13, September 30th, 2006

Some bands stumble on their debut album, Soundgarden doesn’t. Ultramega OK is an oddity due to the fact that it is Soundgarden in a transition era (still too unknown to be on a major label, yet too big to be on Sub-Pop, which is why they signed with SST).

I believe that if they were to have signed with a major label a lot of the quirks (some may say flaws) would have been cut out of the mix. Also it seems as though they did whatever the fuck they wanted on this record (ie 665/667) and some of this may have been frowned on by a major label. This adds to the atmosphere of the album, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.

Ultramega OK is a major step up over Screaming Life/Fopp in more than a few ways. Most evident is the songwriting, it’s much stronger and feels more motivated. The production is a bright spot, it has a rough feel without feeling under produced, giving it a rough, but clean balance.

Some of my favorite songs are:

“Flower” the opener is more than likely the strongest song on this album, meriting this is the fact that it was chosen to be placed on ‘A-Sides’ their ‘best of’ album. It possesses an overly psychedelic tone, which is pulled off really well.

“All Your Lies” follows “Flower” and is a straight up punk song. It has some good guitar work and vocals, with a fairly catchy chorus.

“Beyond the Wheel” is a heavy, plodding and menacing song. It is one of my favorites because in it Chris Cornell sings at about the highest he ever has, it is just interesting to listen to, especially when comparing to later material.

“Smokestack Lightning” is an interesting cover, mostly due to the fact that it seems someone heard this on the radio and thought “hey this is cool, lets cover it!”. It has a laid back feel, which might also be a nice euphemism for sloppy. Which makes me wonder if it may not have been intended for the album.

“Head Injury” is another one that I really liked. I’m not to sure why though, it is all that good. Its just a stupid little ditty and is just entertaining to me, I guess.

While not one of my favorites, the sarcastic cover of John Lennon’s “two minutes of silence” in “one minute of silence” (Yoko Ono's part was cut out, aparently they weren’t to fond over her), is a funny little thing to wrap up the album.

Two other songs worth checking out are “Nazi Driver” and “Incessant Mace”, they aren’t really ones I like, but they are fairly good and interesting to listen to.

Overall this is an interesting debut from a great band. Anyone who claims to be a true Soundgarden fan, or a fan of early grunge, should not pass Ultramega OK by.