Pros:Previously unreleased song Toy Box.
Cons:Only three songs, no extras, Flower and Head Injury are studio versions.
The Bottom Line: To date, the only way to own a copy of the song Toy Box. Hard to find so if you see it - snap it up without thinking!
It’s an inarguable fact that Soundgarden sat poised on the fence of grunge during the early 1990’s, waiting and watching, seeing the sound they called their own being mass produced, exploited and raked over the coals. To say that Soundgarden pioneered the grunge sound is to say that Elvis sang the first love song – it’s an inaccurate factoid. I will however give Cornell and crew [Thayil, Yamamoto and Cameron] credit for bring the Seattle sound to a new level – polishing it and giving it a little bit more attitude than their heroin shooting alternatives.
In going through my collection of CD’s I came across a somewhat rare Soundgarden single – the case was covered with dust and a few spiderwebs but the actual CD is in remarkable shape considering it was released in 1989. I paid an obscene amount for this ‘back in the day’ since it was considered an import at the time.
I’m going to say this right now – the three songs contained on this single are not mainstream material, yet they represent the vast musical endeavors the band had embarked on in the past. If people were hearing this CD as the first exposure to the group, most would not be interested in hearing more. The songs are so far apart on the musical spectrum that it’s a little shocking to hear them back to back – the difference in sound was obviously intentional to give the fan a dose of real music
Unlike most of the Soundgarden music, this is slow and unpretentious, the closest example I can give would be cuts from Temple of the Dog or deep cuts from Badmotorfinger. The song starts off slow and retracted but builds into a hard, driving song that doesn’t disappoint. The guitar work reflects the true sound of the band – before grunge became a watered down “alternative” sound. Cornell’s vocals are not as stabbing usual and flow with the music. Fans will love the sound but the casual listener won’t really be attracted to it.
She would do a dance
A painful masquerade
Spinning you into her web
Along her vain parade
Head Injury 3:13
Another strange road that Soundgarden walked down - Head Injury has a punk feel to it – the fast beat coupled with the jumpy vocals put this one in a class all its own. The song starts out fast and doesn’t back down from the pace set in the intro. The song is a bit monotonous in the respect that the lyrics are repetitive and lack any real substance. If you played this for someone who wasn’t aware that it was a Soundgarden track – I doubt that they would be able to guess correctly. Again, this is just another side of Soundgarden’s many faces. It’s great to see a band with enough balls to branch out and explore other avenues.
My hand on my head, your words are like arrows
My hand on my head, my mind in shambles
Toy Box 4:19
One of my favorite B sides from the band – dark, slow and slightly creepy. The closest comparison would have to be Alice In Chains – because at the end of the day it’s all about the vocals. You can have the best song on paper but if the vocals kill it then you might as well call it a day. Out of the three on this release it’s the one with the most grunge content, darkest feel and overall best pick. The vocals seem to drag a bit and are over exaggerated but true to Cornell’s part performances.
Please take me back to my healing home
Please take me back to my toy box
Ours not for their own
More useless Information
Flower and Head Injury are both off the Ultramega release [11/89 – SST Records] and Toy Box is a bonus track only available on this release. Toy Box is unique in the fact that it was left on the editing room floor after the Screaming Life release. So from a collectors stand point this is an essential CD to have to complete the series.
You aren’t limited to just a single CD single with Flower; it was released on cassette, 10” vinyl [red, yellow and a recently discovered blue], mini disc and 12 “ vinyl. The rarest to find are the colored see through 10” versions. I’ve seen them go for a few hundred dollars in mint condition. If you are interested in buying them these are some of the current prices I’ve found on the internet [prices do not include tax, shipping, handling, insurance]
Vinyl 12” $4.49
The availability of Flower is limited and in most cases the items were on back order with no time listed as to new arrivals. Don’t be fooled by the “low price” that a site may list, if it sounds too good to be true then it usually is. As I mentioned, a majority of the sites offered this release in the three formats listed however they were back ordered and could offer no time frame for refreshment of the product.
It’s packaged in a jewel case rather than the all too common Digipack [cardboard sleeves] and leaves much to be desired in the way of information; no lyrics, no information about the band and a few lines about where it was recorded. While this isn’t common for the SST releases to have such limited information it was rumored that this was rushed through production due to Soundgarden seeking other contracts.
I am going to go ahead and say that I would recommend this to people – but warn them that this isn’t the mainstream, popular sound of the group. Hard core fans will eat this up and ask for seconds. If you can find it for a reasonable price then grab it quick – be leery of small online storefronts that claim to have a ton of copies – that might just what you end up getting, a burned copy. The only way to tell if this is real is to look at the one-piece sleeve – it should have the Flower cover on the front and a black background on the back with white text, not yellow. The CD should be solid black with yellow text, not white.
As always, thanks for stopping by… ^V^ Freak ^V^
[Epinions has this listed as an EP rather than a maxi single. It’s a toss up on the terminology since an EP usually has at least four songs. While it can’t exactly be called a maxi-single due to the fact that the songs are the exact same versions as the studio releases it does offer one previously unreleased song.
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