I vividly recall being in a local record shop on June 29, 1992 poking around and spotting the Singles Soundtrack on the new releases rack. My friends and I promptly took copies to the counter where we were informed that the record wouldn’t go on sale until the next day. We grumbled about the store staff having I put them out when they were not yet for sale and left. The next day we dutifully stopping into one of the other many record shops in town to pick copies on CD.
This was the first listen any of us had of what Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam might have to offer us with their next albums, which we were all waiting for. We also got to hear other bands from that scene. The Soundtrack would go on to sell millions and not only served as a primer for the Seattle Scene, but was also a mainstream introduction of; The Screaming Trees, Mother Love Bone and Mudhoney to many listeners.
Singles might be the single greatest soundtrack to feature then contemporary music, which not only had it’s pulse on the music of the moment moving from the underground to the mainstream, but also highlights the time and place where the film took place. The music was included in the film not only as score elements, but as in film music. It also set off a crush of film soundtracks that were more like compilations.
The moment when the album arrived the music world was changing. The hair metal and boy band pop that had dominated the recent charts was washed away in a flood grunge (a mix of metal, punk and indie rock). This was music that wasn’t afraid of the dark side of life that was seeping into the reality of generation X as they started to enter the work force.
The song titles are like Film Music Cues: Breath, Would?, Overblown, State of Love and Trust, Drown. They act that way though out the film as well, but also stand on their own. The passage of time has only deepened their emotional impact. In hide sight, songs like Nearly Lost You (by the amazing Screaming Trees, even if you are not a fan of the era or Seattle music scene you owe it to yourself to check out their major label albums), Mudhoney’s Overblown and especially Would? By Alice in Chains take on new meaning and heft.
We should take a moment here to remember the passing of Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, and Andy Wood of Mother Love Bone, but gone but not forgotten. I also think taking a moment for career of Chris Cornel of Soundgarden. His solo track Seasons pointed to a major career on his own, it’s just too bad that it never materialized.
It’s also a case where more people bought the soundtrack than saw the film, it served also to highlight the change in the music scene at that moment, and holds up to this day…. Which begs the question, where is the deluxe reissue, the 180 gram vinyl with the dialog clips and full liner notes? At the very least I recommend everyone that has a copy collecting dust somewhere pull it out and give it a spin.
Would? by Alice In Chains
Breath by Pearl Jam
Seasons By Chris Cornell
Dyslexic Heart by Paul Westerberg
Battle of Evermore by Lovemongers
Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns by Mother Love Bone
Birth Ritual by Soundgarden
State of Love and Trust by Pearl Jam
Overblown by Mudhoney
Waiting for Somebody by Paul Westerberg
May This Be Love by Hendrix
Nearly Lost You by Screaming Trees
Drown by Smashing Pumpkins