Obviously, Chris Cornell felt he needed to make a Big Statement. After a quarter-century of playing the grunge game — with Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, a couple of solo records and a James Bond theme — he wanted to try something different.
For reasons known only to him, he decided to hook up with Timbaland (Destiny’s Child, Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and dozens more) to help him with this makeover.
He didn’t give Cornell a makeover as much as he took over. The Scream album was pure Timbaland, full of electric R&B grooves, phat beats and backing vocals from people like Justin Timberlake. It was not what anyone expected (or wanted) from the voice behind Black Hole Sun and Rusty Cage. We should have taken the hint given in the cover art, which featured Cornell smashing a guitar.
Fans were confused, then scornful. The critics were savage. It was a bold experiment, but it failed.
Enter Michael Friedman, a Canadian ex-pat working in L.A. licensing and placing music in TV shows and movies. He thought there was some good Soundgarden-esque stuff buried in all that production.
“I heard some Black Hole Sun greatness deep within some of the songs,” he told me, “I also got to know Chris as a friend. I ended up calling Jordan Zadorozny (of the Canadian indie band Blinker the Star and co-writer of songs with Courtney Love and friend of Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham).” I flew him down to L.A. and had him listen to some of the tracks in hopes that he could remix them somehow.”
The first track to be de-Timbaland-ized was Never Far Away. The messy, forced funkishness was stripped away and guitars were reintroduced. The result is a proper Chris Cornell song, re-imagined, de-cluttered and grunged-up.
I was able to secure permission to stream this new version of the song at ExploreMusic.com.
Reaction has been swift. Comments came in by the dozens. The story continues to spread across the web and around the world. We’ve seen lots of visits from Russia, Chile, Australia, Poland, Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico and through Canada and the U.S.
I’m told Chris is pleased and excited by the response. Could this be the start of the rehabilitation of Chris Cornell’s Scream album? If so, it’s a made-in-Canada solution. And there’s been no word from Timbaland. Yet.