Soundgarden - Down On The Upside (1996, CD) | Discogs

2020 Album Draft- Round 3 Pick 10- with the final pick in the third round- MSJADELI selects- Soundgarden- Down On The Upside.

MSJADELI’s blog Tao Talk- can be found at


Anybody who is trapped on a desert island needs at least one album like, “Down on the Upside” by Soundgarden. It’s hard-hitting on the music, which gets the blood pumping. The lyrics could be best described as dark and struggling with managing emotions, from depression, sorrow, rage, and hoping things will get better. It’s not going to be a picnic all of the time you know. I also knew I would pick at least one album of Chris Cornell music. His voice needs to be there for me, being real.

Down on the Upside (DotU) was recorded between November 1995 and February 1996 and released on May 21, 1996. The band members produced the album themselves, which was a departure from their previous album, “Superunknown,” produced by Michael Beinhorn in 1994. On the choice of not working with a producer, frontman Chris Cornell said that “a fifth guy is too many cooks and convolutes everything. It has to go down too many mental roads, which dilutes it.” Where Superunknown is hard and tight, DotU is hard with forgiving soft edges.

DotU was their fifth studio album and the last one until sixteen years later, when they reunited and created their final album, King Animal, in 2012. DotU is the only self-produced album in their discography.

​Every musician on the album is a master at their craft. There are really interesting time signatures (hoping I have the right terminology) on some of the songs.

The album’s songs placed emphasis on vocals and melody over the heavy guitar riffs that were found on the band’s earlier LPs.

Cornell summed up the changes with “What we’ve lost in sonic precision we’ve gained so much in terms of feeling.”

Down on the Upside is the fifth studio album by the American rock band Soundgarden, released on May 21, 1996, through A&M Records. It is the band’s third album with bassist Ben Shepherd. The album topped the New Zealand and Australian charts and debuted at number two on the United States’ Billboard 200, selling 200,000 copies in its opening week. Down on the Upside would end up becoming Soundgarden’s final studio album for sixteen years as tensions within the band led to its break-up in April 1997.

Pretty Noose – I got the perfect steal/A cleaner love/With a dirty feel all right; Rhinosaur – Only happy when you hurt/Only deadly in a swarm/Only healthy in the dirt/Only empty in your arms; Zero Chance – And all the sky went silent/Cracked like glass and slowly/Tumbled to the ground; Dusty – And nothing’s gonna put me out/It’s backing down and under; Ty Cobb – Sucking on a ball and chain/Another motherfucker goes down the drain; Blow up the Outside World – Nothing seems to kill me no matter how hard I try/Nothing is closing my eyes; Burden in My Hand – Close your eyes and bow your head/I need a little sympathy/’Cause fear is strong and love’s for everyone/Who isn’t me; Never Named – But I was just a kid/The kind mother likes/Now I’m big like the sky/And I’m down sized inside; Apple Bite – Loosely or tightly/Everything fits; Never the Machine Forever – Now I see myself clearer/Why time I visualize/I spy device in the mirror/Checkmate watch machine die’; Tighter and Tighter – Love is so surprising/Opened up my eyes and you/Reached out and took my hand; No Attention – I’ve got war on my mind blood on my hands/And love on my head; Switch Opens – Hey you slave, go hang your owners/Draw your names among their ashes; Overfloater – Close the door and pull the shades/And climb the walls/Feel medicine heal the lines of age; An Unkind – We see the vipers of distance/Crawl into our lives everyday; Boot Camp – I must stay on the ground/In clusters of the mice

16 songs, almost 66 minutes

Personnel: Chris Cornell– lead vocals, rhythm guitar, mandolin, keyboards Kim Thayil – lead guitar Ben Shepherd – bass, backing vocals, mandola, guitar Matt Cameron – drums, backing vocals, synthesizer (now Pearl Jam’s drummer) Adam Kasper – piano (guest musician on one song) Some information for the album was gathered from wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_on_the_Upside

​I like every song on the album, but my favorite is probably, “Blow Up the Outside World,” not only because of the lyrics and the exquisite musical arrangement that start soft then screams, but because of the music video that was created for it.


  1. a pick from “left field” so to speak. A good album though! I agree with you , some very good tunes and “Blow Up the OutsideWorld” is the one which I liked most back then and sticks with me. So – hands up everyone who thought Nirvana wasn’t going to be the first “grunge” pick? Not seeing many fingers…

    • I like your wry sense of humor, Dave. I think that this will be the only grunge pick but happy if it isn’t. Glad you like this album. It has a certain atmosphere that works for a certain mood.

  2. Good one. Seems to me this was the last Golden Age of rock music. Obviously some of that is me showing my age, and there is good current music. But was it not the tail end of an era when an album release was still cause for celebration? As in, “The new Soundgarden album comes out the day after tomorrow and I’m going to make a trip to the record store to purchase it, then my friends are going to come over and we’re going to listen to it over a 12-pack.” Am I romanticizing that too much?

    • I like physical copies- it is a shame the new Dylan came out and did well on the charts- but I couldn’t find a vinyl copy of the album until last week- two hours away from here. They didn’t even had the CD in local stores. I miss the way things used to be…. Great pick Lisa- I have that one too!

    • I hear you on physical copies, Hans! My son is building me a new computer and it’s a good thing I told him I wanted a CD player and burner on it. His computer doesn’t even have one. All of his music is digital 😦 Glad you like the pick, Hans, thanks!

    • I don’t know what the age would be- but people under a certain age -it’s all digital.. I don’t get it. Not to say I don’t have digital but nothing beats a vinyl album in my opinion. Of course it is making a comeback.

    • You’re probably right about albums like this representing the tail end of the Golden Age for rock music. That said, I think that new album releases are still a cause for celebration, though admittedly not in the same way as you romanticize. Now, people just stream the hell out of a new Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Drake or Justin Bieber album, sending it and all the songs on it straight to the top of the charts.

      I love a lot of today’s artists (twenty one pilots, Foals, Missio, Two Feet, Adele, Fontaines D.C., Tame Impala, The Weeknd and Billie Eilish to name a few), but I don’t go crazy when they release a new album. Perhaps that’s just my old-age showing.

  3. A great choice Lisa. Chris Cornell was an incredibly talented man, with a powerful vocal range that reportedly spanned four octaves. Over a 25-year period he helped create some of the most important and memorable music ever recorded, and his untimely death left a void that can never be filled.

  4. In 97 or 98 our drummer had this cd and I remember Blow Up The Outside World and Pretty Noose very well. Add one to the Grunge department.
    Great choice Lisa… more variety to our islands

    • The musicianship of Soundgarden, especially the drummer, is exceptional. Those beats he does are amazing. Thanks Max. Go Grunge! If PJ is considered grunge, you may see more of it in the draft ::hint hint::

  5. TT this this and their last album are the ones I listen to the least, not because I dont like them but because of the volume of music I listen to.
    I love hard rock and this stuff is a must for me. The build and release are some of the things I like about it. But mostly my ear likes the sound.
    So I guess I better kick the bluegrass off the box and tie into this album. In fact I already am. Good one.

  6. Pingback: 2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 3 PICK 10- MSJADELI – SELECTS SOUNDGARDEN- DOWN ON THE UPSIDE — slicethelife – Tao Talk·

  7. You made me want to listen to this, even though the one time I listened to a Soundgarden album I found it way too long – I feel like they suffered from long running times that CDs allowed in the 1990s. I like a lot of their singles though, so maybe one day I’ll get into them.

  8. I also want to remark on the drums. Too often an afterthought–they really shine here. Not sure if this is my favorite Chris Cornell, but he’s definitely a necessity. (K)

  9. Well, I was serving as a pollworker for the election yesterday when this came out, so I could see your pick but not listen to the album or comment. I’m still just a one-song-at-a-time appreciator of Soundgarden. A whole album in one sitting is too much. But they have a great sound. Nice choice in sharing Blow Up The Outside World as the sample. I still remember my nephew texting me updates from their concert in KC on what turned out to be one of Chris Cornell’s final days. I’m happy they will be on someone’s desert island.

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