Temple Of The Dog Reunites; Announces Tour, LP Re-Issue

Courtesy: UMe

Courtesy: UMe

Temple of the Dog is officially returning.

The rock super group—Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Mike McCready, and Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam)—announced this week that it has reunited and will tour together for the first time ever.  The group also announced that it will re-issue its self-titled 1991 record this fall to mark the 25th anniversary of its release.  The album will be re-issued Friday, September 30th via UMe.  It will be available in four different formats—four-disc Super Deluxe Edition, double LP vinyl, two-disc Deluxe Edition CD set, and standard single-disc platform.  Pre-orders for physicals are open now.  They can be placed here.  Each pre-order includes a detailed list of the contents of each presentation.

The band’s tour launches November 4th and currently spans only five cities—Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle—winding down on November 20th.  Pre-sale tickets are  currently open for fans signed up with Pearl Jam’s official fan club, Ten Club, and to the e-mail lists of Soundgarden and Chris Cornell.  Fan pre-sales end next Wednesday, July 27th.  General public ticket sales begin at 12pm local time next Friday, July 29th.  $1.50 from each ticket sold will benefit the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation.  An additional $1.50 from each ticket sold will benefit Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation.

Temple of the Dog originally rose from the remnants of Mother Love Bone.  That band ended after then front man Andrew Wood died from a drug overdose.  Wood was, coincidentally, Cornell’s room mate and close friend.  After Wood’s passing Cornell went on to write the songs ‘Say Hello 2 Heaven’ and ‘Reach Down’ in order to process his grief.  Those songs would also go on to be included in Temple of the Dog’s sole album.  Eventually Gossard and Ament, two of the original members of Mother Love Bone, added Mike McCready to the band’s lineup, who was then followed by Cameron on drums.  The resultant album, according to TOTD’s members, was originally not meant for commercial release.  As Cornell recalls of the album, “Temple was about making an album simply for the joy of doing it. We weren’t concerned what anyone outside of our group of friends would think of it. It was the first and maybe only stress-free album that we all made.”  When the band crafted ‘Hunger Strike’ Cornell felt that the song needed a duet.  Enter Eddie Vedder, who would eventually go on to front Pearl Jam.  The song would go on to be the band’s biggest hit and would peak at #4 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart.

Temple of the Dog did have a very limited number of shows in November and December of 1990.  The band’s upcoming shows this fall mark the first time since those shows that the band has ever toured together.  There was a performance in 2015 in which Cornell joined his former TOTD band mates for a performance of ‘Reach Down’ and ‘Call Me A Dog’ at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.  In 2014 Cornell also joined the band for a performance at the Bridge School show and for two nights at PJ20 in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.  More information on Temple of the Dog’s upcoming concerts and album re-issue is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/TempleofTheDog.

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West Of Memphis Soundtrack A Good Counterpart To Documentary

Courtesy:  Legacy Recordings

Courtesy: Legacy Recordings

Sony Pictures Classic recently released a new documentary titled West of Memphis in very limited release.  The documentary—produced by famed director Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)—focuses on the investigation into the 1993 killing of three eight-year old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas and the controversial trial that would follow.  Three men—Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley—were arrested and charged with the murders.  The three now grown men were teenagers at the time.  Over the course of the men’s incarceration, increasing amounts of evidence began to seemingly point to the men possibly being innocent of the crime.  Support for the men grew increasingly over time.  Much of that support came from the music community.  Now in coordination with the documentary’s release, Sony Pictures Classic and Legacy Recordings have partnered to release music from many of the artists who have supported the cause of proving the men’s innocence in the form of a soundtrack to the documentary.

The documentary’s soundtrack opens solidly with Henry Rollins reading a letter written by Damien Echols, one of the three men charged in the case.  His solemn reading backed by the music of Nick Cave expertly sets the mood of what is to come even for those who haven’t had the opportunity to see the documentary.  Echols’ words echo through the speakers, exhibiting exactly what Echols was thinking and feeling.  Cave’s musical backing makes this moment all the more emotional.  As Echols’ final words are spoken, the solemn mood is maintained in the soundtrack’s next piece, ‘Mother.’  Natalie Maines’ delivery as she sings, “Mother do you think they’ll like this song/Mother do you think they’ll try to break my balls/Mother should I build a wall/Mother should I run for president/Mother should I trust the government/Mother will they put me in the firing line?” is absolutely haunting.  Her response on behalf of the figure’s mother is just as powerful and moving.  The lyrics and music combine to make this one of the outright best pieces on this brand new soundtrack.  Lucinda Williams follows with an equally powerful song in ‘Joy.’  It’s powerful, but in a different manner.  The dark, bluesy sound backing Williams’ singing, “I’m gonna go to West Memphis and look for my joy” is something that simply must be heard to be fully understood.  It’s just one of so many songs that listeners will enjoy in this compilation.

Just as powerful and moving as the soundtrack’s opening tracks is The White Buffalo’s performance of ‘House of Pain.’  The song is sung from the perspective of a young boy whose father is anything but in the picture.  The young boy eventually grows up still without his father, still feeling the pain.  He sings, “wasn’t I worth the time/A boy needs his daddy like a dance to mime/And all the time/I looked up to you/I paced my room a million times/And all I ever got was one big lie/The same old lie/How could you?”  Put in the right context, this brings full circle the letter read by Henry Rollins as the soundtrack opens.  Echols mentions having a son in his death row letter.  Considering this, one can only imagine this being used in the context of perhaps exemplifying the mix of emotions felt by Echols’ son during his son’s incarceration.  It is without a doubt one of the most powerful songs on the soundtrack.  It’s a song that as with Lucinda Williams’ take of ‘Joy’ must simply be heard to be believed.  As impressive as it is, listeners are given other amazing songs from the likes of Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder, and Citizen Cope just to name a few.  The soundtrack to West of Memphis is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct via the Voices for Justice online store at http://www.myplaydirect.com/west-of-memphis?cid=lg:zel&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=voicesforjusticemusic.com&utm_content=west%20of%20memphis%20d2c%20promote&utm_campaign=west%20of%20memphis%20d2c%20promote.

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Chacon’s Self-Titled LP A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy: Pie Records/Kayos Productions

Folk/country artist Thom Chacon’s upcoming sophomore self-titled album is quite the listen.  Typically, the case with sophomore albums is that much like movie sequels, they rarely live up to the expectations created by the first opus.  That’s not the case with Thom Chacon.  His new album carries a similar feel to that of his 2010 Pie Records debut, Featherweight Fighter.  But it has an overall different sound.  Whereas Featherweight Fighter sounded like something that Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder would have crafted for a solo record, this new record shows more influence from the likes of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and even Bruce Springsteen to a lesser extent.

Chacon’s sophomore release carries the influence of Dylan, Springsteen, and Petty both musically and lyrically.  The album’s opener is proof of that.  ‘Innocent Man’ is an obviously Dylan influenced song all the way around.  Chacon sings mournfully about a man who has been wrongfully convicted of something he didn’t do.  He sings, “I swear on the lord, I’m an innocent man.”  Even when he becomes more defiant, singing, “You can all go to hell, I’m an innocent man”, his response is so subdued.  That subdued nature makes this a tragically beautiful song.  That being noted, it does the job setting the tone for what listeners can expect in this new release.

The follow-up to ‘Innocent Man’ is just as painful and real.  ‘American Dream’ comes across as a commentary on the housing crisis in America.  He sings, “Got a letter in the mail today/said we’re gonna foreclose/I wanna check out of this place but/I’m broke/I’m living the American Dream/For sure/I’m worth more dead/Cause baby, I owe.”  Chacon doesn’t pull any punches here.  He puts it right out on the table.  This song instantly conjures images of the damages done to the American housing industry since about 2008.  And the way in which he sings the song, it makes those images that much more vivid in listeners’ minds.  That’s a powerful statement when a musician can hit home so hard so easily with a few words.

The few words of ‘American Dream’ make up just one more of the many interesting tracks here.  For all the harsh realistic songs that Chacon has on his new album, he does offer listeners something more upbeat in the form of ‘A Life Beyond Here.’  What really makes this song interesting are its spiritual aspect and his love for his mother.  He sings, “I tried and tried the faith/It just wouldn’t take/Now I’m a man/who never believed/But maw/When you left this world/I was able to see/There’s a life/Beyond here/I don’t’ know much/But I know you’re near/Don’t believe in anything/But this much is clear/that there’s a life/Beyond here.”  It’s a bittersweet song, yes.  But it’s also more positive than the album’s other songs, too.  It will easily bring tears to the eyes of anyone who really listens to it and takes his lyrics as he meant them to be heard. 

As is noted here, the songs on Thom Chacon’s new self-titled LP will hit home in so many different emotional avenues.  They make for a hit for anyone that is a fan of real old school folk/country style music.  But the lyrics aren’t all that make the album a success for fans of said genre.  The songs’ length is another positive to this record.  The longest of the tracks on this record clocks in at less than four minutes long.  The shortest comes in at two minutes and eleven seconds.  So not only do the songs paint powerful pictures in listeners’ minds, their length makes them that much more easy on the ears and minds of listeners, too.  The two factors combined add up to proof of the old adage that less is more.  Each song is a short story that paints a big picture. That ultimately is what makes Chacon’s new upcoming release a welcome new collection of songs for both his own fans and for fans of the folk/country style as a whole.  Chacon’s new album is set to hit stores in early 2013.  While audiences await its arrival, they can go online to get the latest news and more from Thom Chacon online at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thom-Chacon/188502570061 and at http://www.thomchacon.com

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