This is a review for the Chris Cornell album Songbook, released November 21, 2011, copyright Universal Music and the artist.
Chris Cornell is a name that nearly all rock fans are familiar with. From Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog in the 1990's to Audioslave in the 2000's, Cornell has been consistently on the charts. Though his solo career hasn't gained him as much success as it probably should have, the man rarely puts out an album that isn't worth a listen.
Songbook is Chris Cornell's most recent solo album. It is a record of live recordings from his 'Unplugged' style US/Canadian tour in the spring of 2011. The album contains some of his original material, as well as versions of some of the hit songs he made with his bands. There is even a cover of Led Zeppelin's Thank You and John Lennon's Imagine.
I normally do not like live albums, I just prefer the way studio songs sound. If I want live, I'll go to a concert. And then there's the fact that Cornell isn't exactly known for his live singing ability. But... he's Chris Cornell, and I will buy virtually anything this man releases.
With the first track, I was surprised. I didn't realized that the only performer on Songbook IS Chris Cornell. It's him on stage with an acoustic guitar, in a small club-style, intimate setting. Because I downloaded a digital copy of this record from Zune, the track listing was a little jumbled and the first song I heard was I Am the Highway, which was one of Cornell's hits with Audioslave, and is one of my favorite songs. I was floored.
Chris Cornell is not the most talented singer in the world, he isn't even the best guitarist, but what came out of my headphones as I listened to each of the tracks on this album was pure magic. His voice is perfect for this setting. He hits the right notes, goes off the rails a little to give his listeners a new take on some of these songs. I would give nearly everything I have to have been at one of these performances.
I will be honest, there is not a song on this album that I do not like. Black Hole Sun is exceptional, Thank You is amazing and Call Me a Dog reminds me of why I have so much love for Cornell in the first place. The simple setting, the soulful vocals - combined together they create something that I've never really heard on a live album before.
In today's economy, not many of us have spare money, but I believe that any rock fan worth their salt should dig up a few bucks for this album. You will not be disappointed.