One of the albums that are in rotation this week is Temple of the Dog. I’ve owned the album for close to twenty years and I never seem to grow tired of it. I realize part of that is the nostalgia for the time in which the album was released, part of it is the musical energy and excitement that was breaking out in the Seattle music scene, and part of it is that it is just a really great album.
So, with that in mind, you should be listening to Temple of the Dog!
Temple of the Dog is the grunge super group that is only a super group because of what the members of the group became later in their career. In reality, Temple of the Dog is a fortuitous union of friends who are paying tribute to their dead friend.
Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990 and was widely revered in the Seattle area for his work as the lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone. Andrew was friends with Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and band mates with Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard. Chris Cornell began writing a few songs as a tribute to his friend and enlisted the help of Wood’s former band mates to help with the recording of the songs.
As the recording processed continued, the band line up was filled out with the addition of drummer Matt Cameron (Sound Garden & Pearl Jam) and guitarist Mike McCready (Pearl Jam). The addition of Eddie Vedder was a bit of a fluke as he just happened to be in town to audition to be the lead singer in a band called Mookie Blaylock which later became Pearl Jam.
Temple of the Dog was recorded in 15 days and produced by the band. The album was released in April of 1991 and the name is a reference to a line in a Mother Love Bone song called “Man of Golden Words”.
The album received decent reviews and sold around 70,000 copies upon release. As Soundgarden and Pearl Jam exploded on the musical scene, the album received new life and the single “Hunger Strike” was released and a music video was put in heavy rotation. The album ended up selling over a million copies and was among the top selling 100 albums in 1992.
The album has a less frenetic pace than some of the earlier material that either band recorded and at times is a bit more harmonious. “Hunger Strike” is a phenomenal duet between Cornell and Vedder and “Wooden Jesus” is one of my favorite songs from the album.
In the nearly 20 years since its release, there have only been a handful of appearances by Temple of the Dog. Cornell has played some of the material while on tour with Audioslave as well as his solo tours. As recently as 2009, he joined Pearl Jam on stage and sang “Hunger Strike” which sparked rumor and speculation of a 20th anniversary reunion tour.
Great music awaits!