Soundgarden – Telephantasm (2 CD / 1 DVD edition) (Universal Music Canada)

Please be aware that I am going to attempt to write this review with as little “holier than  thou” attitude as I possibly can. I’m probably going to fail miserably though because when it comes to Soundgarden, I rule. Think I’m exaggerating? How many Soundgarden CDs you got, sucka? 3? 5? I got 32. Count ’em – 32. This includes full-length records, CD singles and only two bootlegs. So there.

When I was in high school, I lived for this band. I was so hardcore, I’d get up in the middle of the night (on a school night, none the less) to tape their interviews on Much Music. I even got an autographed “Jesus Christ Pose” 12 inch that I won from Much Music.

OK, I will get off my soap box now.

I have to admit I was somewhat taken back when at the start of 2010, Soundgarden announced they were reforming. Frankly, when they called it quits in 1997, they were more-less going out at the top of their game and as much I didn’t want to see them ever split up, at least they were going out on their terms. Their last studio record Down On The Upside might not have moved as many units as Superunknown had but it was the sound of a group that, while sounding a little tired, was still making music that was good and relevant for the time.

So here we are almost 10 months later in October 2010 and Telephantasm, a comprehensive retrospective on the group has been released. Frankly, it is heads and shoulders above the A Sides compilation that was came out the year after Soundgarden had initially split up. Where that compilation essentially focused on the time the group spent at A&M Records (now Universal Music), Telephantasm includes rarities that even I didn’t have (imagine that!) and makes this collection worth the cost.

Rare tracks include “Pretty Noose” from the band’s 1996 appearance on Saturday Night Live and the inclusion of “All Your Lies” from the C/Z Records 1985 compilation Deep Six (yes, it’s different from the version that is on Screaming Life). There is a BBC recording session of “Flower” and a live version of “Jesus Christ Pose” and (one of my favorites…), the video version of Superunknown single “Fell On Black Days”.

And yes, in addition to all those tracks that you might or might not care about, “Spoonman” is here. So is “Black Hole Sun”, “Outshined” and “Rusty Cage” (you know, the Johnny Cash song – joking!).

The DVD itself is pretty great too. Aside from the videos that were played during the band’s heyday, there are some bonus features included which, for the most part, would be worth having on their own.

There is a video for “Superunknown” (who knew it?!) as well as a couple of different versions of “Pretty Noose”. The only “bonus” video I am wondering why it is included is a clip of “Spoonman” that is a clip that revisits videos prior to that single and (even more puzzlingly) includes live footage from the band’s Motorvision concert.

All in all, that is a small blip on an otherwise perfect collection. If you haven’t liked Soundgarden in the past, Telephantasm isn’t likely to bring you on board. But if you’re like me, this is more than three hours of grunge bliss.

God love ya, Soundgarden.