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November 22, 2011 / jhsaeger

Tuesday’s Best: Chris Cornell Goes Unplugged in Songbook
   Acoustic albums have always had a way of changing how an audience listens to a song.  Chris Cornell, who has a wealth of material to choose from with his time spent as a member of  Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave, certainly gives that new take on his songwriting in Songbook.  With one exception, each of the 15 songs that appear on Songbook were recorded during various stops on his most recent North American tour.

   Cornell choose a diverse selection of songs for Songbook, not leaning too heavily towards any particular phase of his career.  The two Soundgarden tracks to make the cut were “Black Hole Sun” and “Fell On Black Days” (which was recorded at the Keswick Theater near Philadelphia).  One of the songs to receive a vastly different look was Audioslave’s “Doesn’t Remind Me,” as Cornell changed the phrasing to fit the acoustic performance of the track.  Cornell also covers “I Am The Highway,” which seems to fit better as an acoustic track than it did on the group’s 2002 eponymous album.  
   The 47 year-old Seattle native also threw in two new songs and a memorable pair of covers – Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  Cornell’s two new songs – “The Keeper” and the previously unreleased “Cleaning My Gun” both fit in well with the setlist.  “The Keeper” is the only track to have been recorded in a studio.  With just Cornell and Alain Johnannes, “The Keeper” is one of Cornell’s more melodic songs and seems that it would have fit on something like Eddie Vedder’s Into the Wild soundtrack.  
     As for Lennon’s “Imagine,” which Cornell had previously played on Conan O’Brien’s late night program to mark the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the singer seems to give greater emphasis to each lyric as the song progresses.  His delivery of the verse “imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can/No need for greed or hunger/a brotherhood of man” really slows the song down as he projects one of the most central lines of the song.
    Songbook is available as CD, vinyl, or digital download.  Ten bonus tracks are also available for individual download from  Cornell’s next project will be one of the key albums to watch for in 2012, as the reunited Soundgarden are set to release their first studio record since 1996’s Down on the Upside.  

Other Cool Stuff That Hits Today:  Foo Fighters re-release Foo Fighers, The Colour and the Shape, There is Nothing Left to Lose, One By One, In Your Honor and Skin and Bones in vinyl, Seasick Steve’s Walking Man, Kate Bush’s 50 Words for Snow, Rolling Stones remaster of Some Girls, and Rammstein’s Made In Germany.  

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