Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Epic, 1992

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The '90s were defined by grunge. And if the whole Seattle music scene has to be condensed into a package, then the soundtrack for the movie Singles is just the right CD, because it is the ultimate grunge album, a comprehensive lesson in grunge for those who have never explored this music before, as well as for those who live and breathe it.

The lineup of this record, monstrously grunge and proudly Seattle, speaks for itself: Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Chris Cornell/Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Jimi Hendrix, Mudhoney, The Lovemongers, and Screaming Trees, with contribution from a couple of non-Seattle indie-superstars of the early grunge era, Smashing Pumpkins and Paul Westerberg.

But, there's more to this soundtrack than just its titanic lineup. This compilation finds most of the aforementioned grunge celebrities in their pre-stardom days. Cuts like "Breath" and "State Of Love And Trust" by Pearl Jam, "Seasons" by Chris Cornell and "Birth Ritual" by Soundgarden, and "Drown" by Smashing Pumpkins showcase the raw talent in these acts during the years when they still hadn't made it big. These tracks show the roots of these gigantic bands.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Singles soundtrack was part of a period where rock music was being discovered by a completely new generation of listeners whose first-ever exposure to this kind of music was either Pearl Jam or Nirvana, and introduces the genesis of modern rock music to these new rock converts. First, it has a track by Mother Love Bone, the band that evolved into Pearl Jam after singer Andrew Wood died. This is followed by a cover of Led Zeppelin's "The Battle Of Evermore," by The Lovemongers, a pseudonym for the band Heart.

The most valuable lesson for fledgling rock enthusiasts -- for whom Seattle became the newfound capital of modern rock -- is a Hendrix number ("May This Be Love"), which shows that the foundation for Seattle's prolific rock music scene was laid not in the '90s, but three decades prior.

Though Singles seems a perfect grunge record in every sense, there are two things that make it short of an all-star "dream" album for every grunge fan: Neil Young and Nirvana, the two names synonymous with grunge. For an album that is almost an audio bible for grunge, the absence -- for whatever reason -- of Neil Young, the godfather of grunge, and Nirvana, the band that turned grunge from an obscure offshoot of rock to its most loved and most popular avatar, does leave a bit of room for discontent.

Singles is one of those soundtracks that makes the movie secondary to it, instead of the other way around. Ask anyone who owns this record if they have seen the movie or even know about it, and the positive answers -- with no offense to the movie -- would only come sparingly. This album is way too important to be a supporting soundtrack for a romantic comedy flick; it chronicles grunge history, after all. It is one the best accounts of why Seattle is popular not just for its coffee and computers.

Rating: A

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© 2006 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic, and is used for informational purposes only.