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Temple of the Dog – ‘Hunger Strike’ | Record of the Day

Temple of the Dog band photo

Hunger Strike was the first single from Temple of the Dog’s self-titled only album. It’s a melodic and melancholy piece of grunge which culminates in a soaring duet between Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell. There’s some serious vocal talent on display here.

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Temple of the Dog was put together as a tribute to Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood following his untimely death aged just 24. It was conceived by Wood’s friend and roommate Chris Cornell who brought in Soundgarden colleague Matt Cameron, ex-Love Bone members Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, and future Pearl Jam members Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder.

Temple of the Dog album

At the time, this was a fairly low-key project. In retrospect it’s taken on a whole new level of significance. It was a collaboration that pooled some of the best talent from the grunge scene just before that subgenre properly exploded. It marked the beginning of Pearl Jam. It was the first time Eddie Vedder’s voice was put on a record.

Now a band that includes Chris Cornell shouldn’t need a contribution from any other vocalist. But the track combines both the singers’ vocals to powerful affect.

Vedder acknowledges his debt to Chris Cornell for giving him this opportunity. Here’s how he remembers it coming about during an early Temple of the Dog rehearsal of Hunger Strike:

“I’m not now, and certainly wasn’t then, self-assured or cocky, but I could hear what he was trying to do, so I walked up to the mic — which I’m really surprised I did – and sang the other part, “Going hungry, going hungry.” The next time I was up, he asked if I’d record it — so it was just me and Chris in the same studio that we made Ten. I really like hearing that song. I feel like I could be real proud of it — because one, I didn’t write it, and two, it was such a nice way to be ushered onto vinyl for the first time. I’m indebted to Chris time eternal for being invited onto that track.”

That’s a beautiful quote. It demonstrates both Vedder’s modesty and Cornell’s generosity. Hunger Strike, meanwhile, demonstrates their talent.

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Nick Perry

Nick writes fact, fiction and opinion in various places including
his music blog noisecrumbs.com. His musical tastes cover indie, grunge, golden-era hip hop, punk, funk, psychedelia and a big portion of distortion. You can and should follow him on Twitter @NoiseCrumbs.

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