AUDIOSLAVE – ” The Albums “

Posted: November 21, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Image result for audioslave images

Zack de la Rocha’s abrupt departure from Rage Against the Machine in October of 2000 was a blow to the remaining core of the band who wanted to continue as a unit. Rather than seek out a replacement for the frontman, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk sought to launch an entirely new musical entity, tapping Chris Cornell, who hadn’t been in a band situation since Soundgarden had called it a day in 1997. The result was Audioslave, and the self-titled record from the bona fide super group landed on shelves November. 19th, 2002. Audioslave’s sound was created by blending styles of 1970s hard rock with 1990s alternative rock. Moreover, Morello incorporated his well-known, unconventional guitar solos into the mix. As with Rage Against the Machine, the band prided themselves on the fact that all sounds on their albums were produced using only guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.

It was announced in late September that the release of the debut album from Audioslave. For many who downloaded the internet-leaked demos of the project that May, the album couldn’t come soon enough as they had been waiting breathlessly for the fully-realized version of the LP. The previous month brought the initial single and lead off track, “Cochise.”

Cochise was the last great American Indian chief to die free and absolutely unconquered,” Morello said in a statement. “When several members of his family were captured, tortured, and hung by the U.S. Cavalry, Cochise declared war on the entire Southwest and went on an unholy rampage, a warpath to end all warpaths … Cochise the Avenger, fearless and resolute, attacked everything in his path with an unbridled fury. This song kinda sounds like that.”

The song was a dream come true for both Rage and Soundgarden fans; showcasing Cornell’s caterwaul and the potency of the instrumental attack was a boon to starving early ’00s hard rock fans. If that was indicative of the rest of the record, the project was going to take off brilliantly. To a degree, it was; the fury of the melding was expected and delivered on many levels, be it the stomp of “Gasoline,” the rumbling of “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” and the thunder of “Set It Off,” very few admirers of either act could complain there.

The second single, “Like a Stone,” was a game-changer, for better or worse, regarding the union. It was one of the most mellow pieces the Rage guys had ever done together, and not only was a massive FM rock radio hit, it showed the deep and uncharted waters to which the outfit was willing to venture into in the name of separating themselves from their former affiliations. Yet the fourth single, “I Am the Highway,” would truly demonstrate how diverse a road Audioslave were willing to venture.

“We had written a bunch of pretty powerful rock songs,” Morello said on a promo interview compact disc sent to radio stations at the time. “It felt so free in rehearsal and I, kind of the night before, was strumming the chord progression from ‘I Am the Highway,’ because it’s very, very different than anything that’s on a Soundgarden or Rage Against the Machine record. So the end of the next rehearsal, I kinda started timidly strumming those chords, sort of pretending I’m putting my stuff away [laughs] and see if anything happens. Chris goes, ‘What’s that?’ and I go, ‘Oh, I don’t know, just a couple of chords …’ and the next day we worked that one up and it ended up being one of my favorite songs.”

The restraint of that track in particular is what led to the criticism of the album by those who wanted more heavy bluster and less surprising gentleness. That harmonious softness was woven into the sonic fabric of Audioslave though, and not only added to the band’s appeal, but made them stronger than the collective sum of their prior parts. It also drew in an entirely new audience who may not have been attracted to Rage or Soundgarden.

Producer and friend Rick Rubin suggested that they play with Chris Cornell, the ex-frontman of Soundgarden. Rubin was confident that with the right new voice, Rage Against the Machine had the potential to become a better band; he believed “it could turn into a Yardbirds-into-Led Zeppelin scenario.” Commerford later credited Rubin for being the catalyst that brought Audioslave together. He called him “the angel at the crossroads” because “if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today.

The chemistry between Cornell and the other three was immediately apparent; as Morello described: “He stepped to the microphone and sang the song and I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t just sound good. It didn’t sound great. It sounded transcendent. And…when there is an irreplaceable chemistry from the first moment, you can’t deny it.” The quartet wrote 21 songs during 19 days of rehearsal, and began working in the studio in late May 2001 with Rubin as producer,

In its six years of existence, Audioslave released three albums, sold more than 8 million records worldwide and became the first American rock band to perform an open-air concert in Cuba. Audioslave disbanded in February 2007 when Cornell issued a statement announcing that he was permanently leaving the band “due to irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences.”

The five-year, three-effort output was way too short in retrospect, and it would’ve been interesting to see where the reconstituted Audioslave might have gone had an oft-speculated reunion gone down before Cornell’s untimely passing.

Audioslave [Explicit]

‘Audioslave’ (2002)

Despite receiving a mixed bag of reviews upon its release, the eponymous Audioslave debut, for the most part, delivered precisely what was expected; the wail of Soundgarden’s lead singer backed by the foundation of Rage Against the Machine. “Light My Way,” “Set It Off” and “Cochise” could’ve been Rage songs in another life. But Chris Cornell brought out a more mellowed side to tracks like “I Am the Highway” and “Getaway Car,” and showed that Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford weren’t one-dimensional when it came to their musical abilities. Overall though, the album skewed toward the heavy end – led by Morello’s from-outer-space guitar histrionics – a boon to fans who were desperate to hear Cornell rock again after his tempered 1999 solo output, ‘Euphoria Morning.’ 

The music video for “Like a Stone” was written and directed by Meiert Avis. It was shot in the Los Angeles house where Jimi Hendrix wrote “Purple Haze”. The video uses negative space to invoke the memory of musicians past.
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 ‘The Civilian Project’ (2002)

Guitarist Tom Morello said that these demos have as much in common with the first Audioslave album as “a hunk of coal has with a diamond.” Still, for music fans salivating at the prospect of a musical collaboration between members of two of the ‘90s most revered hard rock acts, it would do just fine. Recorded in late 2001 and leaked online by an Italian website the following May, it was dubbed “Civilian” after the rumored name of the union. In spite of the sketch arrangements, the power of the music was discernible. Eleven of the tracks were polished up and appeared on the band’s debut. “We Got the Whip” ended up as a B-side on the “Cochise” single while “Turn to Gold” remains to date the sole unreleased song.

 Audioslave made their live debut on November 25, 2002, performing a brief concert on the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway in New York City for the Late Show with David Letterman. This was the first time any band had appeared on Letterman’s marquee

‘Out of Exile’ (2005)

If the first Audioslave endeavor packed the punch of Rage Against the Machine, its follow-up veered more to the speed where Chris Cornell was most comfortable. There’s still the issue of trying to find a common ground, with the pendulum swinging in the direction of Cornell. “Be Yourself,” “Doesn’t Remind Me” and “The Curse” are prime examples where it sounds like he has backing musicians as opposed to being a part of a band. The boundaries get pushed only when Tom Morello cuts loose on guitar, especially when he goes a bit too far, often furiously inserting a bunch of unnecessary notes. ‘Out of Exile’ is a looser outing at its core, relaxed in all the places the debut might have wrapped itself too tight.
Revelations [Clean]

‘Revelations’ (2006)

Though Chris Cornell was ready to leave Audioslave at this point, as evidenced by his refusal to tour in support of the record and exit from the group five months after its release, he was hardly phoning it in. ‘Revelations’ feels the most like a fully functioning band is at work, less dependent on the member’s respective musical histories and more coming together cohesively as a unit.

The punishing riffs were accounted for — see “Shape of Things to Come” — and dips into introspective balladry like “Until We Fall.” But there was also a sense of adventurous expansion. Lead single “Original Fire” and “One and the Same” are steeped in funk, while “Jewel of the Summertime” sounds like nothing else in the Audioslave catalog, leaning heavily on Tim Commerford’s thick bass groove. Cornell even lyrically invests himself politically for the first time on “Wide Awake,” a scathing commentary on the slow response by the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina.

Band members

  • Chris Cornell – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Tom Morello – lead guitar
  • Tim Commerford – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Brad Wilk – drums, percussion

 

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