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Superheavy power

For many folks of my vintage, Soundgarden’s music is a return to our youths, when they didn’t play ‘grunge’ or ‘Seattle rock’ on MTV Classic along with Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’. Indrajit Hazra writes.

music Updated: May 18, 2012 23:36 IST
Rock’n’Roll Circus
Rock’n’Roll Circus
Hindustan Times
Rock’n’Roll Circus

Avengers Assemble
Various
Universal, Rs 395
Rating: ***

Thick as a brick 2
Ian Anderson
Sony, Rs 499
Rating: 1/2

Consumer warning: the album I’m reviewing here is not the soundtrack of the movie, Avengers Assemble, or as the wise would call it, the ‘Original motion picture soundtrack’. I heard a few tracks written and composed by Alan Silvestri from that 1 hour 4 minute-long sleeping pill and remembered why I usually avoid reviewing (or listening to) soundtracks. But I found myself pressing the CD tray button shut with the Avengers Assemble: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture in it. I ended up listening to a nice little whopper.

For many folks of my vintage, Soundgarden’s music is a return to our youths, when they didn’t play ‘grunge’ or ‘Seattle rock’ on MTV Classic along with Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’. But for people with better knees than mine, the opening track should be a blast from the present. ‘Live to rise’ is heavy and shimmering at the same time: Jeff Buckley through the Led Zeppelin machine. Chris Cornell and gang start proceedings on the heavy side of rock’n’roll. The drums and guitars at the beginning are fit for music prior to a virgin sacrifice ceremony. The ballady middle moves on only to hitch on to Kim Thayil’s hormonally-charged guitars with Cornell’s voice taking a 90- degree airshow turn upwards to belt out, “Like the sun we will live to rise/ like the sun we will live and die/ and then/ ignite again.” So hard evidence that Soundgarden’s back — a few months before their new album’s out later this summer, 16 years after their last studio offering, Down on the Upside.

From the same timezone, we have Scott Weiland in ‘Breath’. Is it me or do I hear the former Stone Temple Pilots frontman going through a Jon Bon Jovi phase? But another dip into the 90s lottery box and we have ‘Into the blue’ by post-grunge Brit rock outfit Bush. As was the case some 20 years ago, pretty boy-cum-vocalist Gavin Rossdale tries to sound sexy; and he succeeds, as always, when he forgets to try sounding sexy. This skin-banging tune slides along a wicked bassline as the Zenyaata Mondatta-style reggae erupts when Rossdale sings, “Your flowers are hand grenades/ your words are weapons of the mind/ speak with an innocence/ you can't be satisfied.”

But let’s step off the 90s heaving train and get on board of the fine rap rocker buzz of ‘Comeback’ by Redlight King, the band fronted by Canadian mike-pandler Razzer. It’s the tried-and-tested verse-chorus-verse with a good rap lemon squeeze on heavy nu metal loudness. Buckcherry’s ‘Wherever I go’ is the solid gold nugget in this mine with its Jimmy Page guitars swirling about until the track crashes with full force.

Shinedown’s ‘I'm alive’ and Papa Roach’s ‘Even if I could’ are standard 21st century rock’n’body slam loud songs that should warm the cockles of most arc reactor-powered male teenage hearts. As an epilogue there’s the odd track out: English jive rockers Kasabian’s ‘Pistols at dawn’. The dinosaur stomps on the high street are glam and hard. With the duststorm the music kicks up around the chewy vocals of Tom Meighan, the song has to be the one dedicated to the villains in Avengers.

The soundtrack is fun and heavy. And lest we think that the album can be heard only by folks into comic book superheroes, let me just say that it makes for a great CD at a party where there is no risk of the beer falling short.

GOD, it’s jethro dull!
There was a time when a particular kind of human would revel in the music of Jethro Tull, the 70s Brit prog rock band that was (supposedly) a parody of a 70s Brit prog rock band. With Ian Anderson and his lip-o-suction flute, this hairy lot appealed to a university crowd familiar with the fact that Jethro Tull was a 17th century English agriculturalist. It turns out that Anderson (and his blasting flute) has crossed over to the 21st century. His latest project: a ‘sequel’ to Tull’s much ‘respected’ 1972 album, Thick As A Brick (TAAB).

If TAAB now is seen as a handicraft curio from the Proterozoic era, TAAB2 (which has Anderson alone doing the cooking) is a no-holds-barred boredom-inducing personal extravagance. Tracks such as ‘Power and spirit/ Give till it hurts’, ‘Upper sixth loan shark/Banker bets, banker wins’ and ‘A change of horses’ (that should be on a Robin Hood soundtrack and nowhere else) are supposed to be clever. But with all its huffing and puffing and classic rock poses, I’d rather go with Mama Mia: The Musical. It’s official then: Anderson on this album is my personal Anglo-Saxon Cacofonix. And the worst album cover award goes to...