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10 essential recordings from rock god Chris Cornell

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

The rock world lost one of its most distinctive voices Thursday when Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell was found dead in his hotel room at the MGM Grand in Detroit following a sold-out concert at the Fox Theatre.

Singer Chris Cornell poses on the press line at a party honoring Timbaland in Los Angeles, Feb. 8, 2008.

The masterful vocalist with a rock god’s wail leaves behind a legacy of 30 years of recordings. Here are 10 essential Cornell recordings from across his career.

Soundgarden, “Outshined” (from “Badmotorfinger) (1991)

“I can’t get any lower,” Cornell wails, “still I feel I’m sinking.” For many, “Outshined” was their introduction to Soundgarden, and the pummeling riffage and Cornell’s bleak world outlook was the perfect welcome mat.

Temple of the Dog, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” (from “Temple of the Dog”) (1991)

“Hunger Strike” gets the lion’s share of the love from this Pearl Jam/Soundgarden hybrid outfit, but Cornell’s performance here – especially in the song’s final minute-and-a-half – offer a vocal masterclass that should be studied by all singers.

Chris Cornell, “Seasons” (from the “Singles” soundtrack) (1992)

Cornell appeared in Cameron Crowe’s 1992 love letter to the Seattle scene, and was one of the highlights of its soundtrack with this soaring acoustic offering.

Soundgarden, “4th of July” (from “Superunknown”) (1994)

Riffs land like punches to the chest in this bulldozing rocker from the band’s breakthrough album.

Soundgarden, “Pretty Noose” (from “Down on the Upside”) (1996)

“I don’t like what you got me hanging from,” Cornell repeats in the lead single from the group’s 1996 album, its final album before a breakup and extended hiatus.

Audioslave, “Cochise” (from “Audioslave”) (2002)

The introductory single from Audioslave pairs Cornell’s howl with a heavy Rage groove, and as embodied in the song’s bombastic video, it’s a cause for fireworks.

Audioslave, “Wide Awake” (from “Revelations”) (2006)

Cornell wasn’t known for his politics, but “Wide Awake” is his reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and it’s a stirring rumination on corruption and apathy at the highest levels.

Chris Cornell, “You Know My Name” (from the “Casino Royale” soundtrack) (2007)

Not one of the better-known – or even one of the better – James Bond themes, but Cornell joined an elite class of performers when he performed the theme song to the 21st James Bond movie.

Chris Cornell, “Thank You” (Led Zeppelin cover)

Cornell was also a prolific performer of other people’s songs; his take on the Led Zeppelin classic is gorgeous and aching.

Chris Cornell, “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Sinead O’ Connor/ Prince cover)

The Prince-penned classic is a study in emotional vulnerability, and Cornell’s reading gives it just the rawness it deserves.