Soundgarden dips into its vaults today (March 10) for a deluxe reissue of its 1988 debut album Ultramega OK.
Guitarist Kim Thayil and original recording engineer Jack Endino have been working on the project since 2014, remixing and remastering it from the original tapes and adding early versions of a half dozen of the songs.
Thayil tells us that he and Endino most wanted to make Ultramega OK sound better than it did nearly 20 years ago:
"If you're acquainted with that album, 'Ultramega OK,' there's an aspect to it that's kind of thin and transistor-sounding, and it always kind of bothered us, even during the process. When it came out we thought, 'Y'know, we should give this a remix. And we asked Jack Endino back in 1989, 88; He said, 'I'd love to remix this.' The band said we'd love to remix it. We asked Greg Ginn of SST Records and Black Flag fame...Greg said, 'Y'know, I'd like to hear that. I think we should get it in the studio and remix it. I agree with you'... But then a number of things happened that forces us to shelve the idea."
While it didn't chart back in 1988 Ultramega OK was nominated for a 1990 Grammy Award for Best Metal performance. The new Ultramega OK is coming out on CD, cassette, colored vinyl and digital and sports a previously unpublished photo by Charles Peterson and liner notes by Thayil and Endino.
Soundgarden is hitting the road again this spring with an 18-date tour starting April 28 in Tampa, Fla., that mixes headline shows with festival appearances. The group is also working on a follow-up to its 2012 album King Animal.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.