May 1, 1995
The success of Temple of the Dog, the 1991 one-shot project led by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, paved the way for another Seattle grunge lineup. The group - Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, singer Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin and a little-known bassist called Baker - evolved from jam sessions. Eventually they felt ready to record. The results intriguing if erratic.
Highlights include the tuneful pop-grunge of "I'm Above" and the slow, crawling blues of "Artificial Red," in which McCready bends some delicately sad notes á la fellow Seattle native Jimi Hendrix. True, the band has a propensity for shapeless jams, but when they focus on writing cohesive songs, they sound like they've been together for years.
(Columbia) *ANDREW ABRAHAMS