Essential New Music: Soundgarden’s “Badmotorfinger”

Badmotorfinger was Soundgarden’s crowning achievement, splitting the difference between the tuneless bludgeoning of 1989’s Louder Than Love and the more melodic, psychedelic experimentations of 1994’s multiplatinum Superunknown. Few hard-rock records can match Badmotorfinger’s opening quadruple threat, “Rusty Cage” (covered by Johnny Cash, no less), “Outshined,” “Slaves & Bulldozers” and “Jesus Christ Pose.”

On its 25th anniversary, the album is being reissued, along with high-quality studio outtakes and a live show at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. The original was capably produced by Terry Date, so there’s minimal tinkering evident (or needed) with the remastering. And although the live tracks offer nothing revelatory, the studio outtakes include some real gems, notably a version of “New Damage” with a guest solo from Queen’s Brian May that could melt steel. Essential listening for any heavy-music fan … or youngsters wondering what that whole Seattle fuss was all about.

—Matt Ryan