April 16, 1991. Before Soundgarden‘s Badmotorfinger, before Pearl Jam‘s Ten, there was Temple of the Dog‘s self-titled debut, quietly hinting at what was to come.
The timeline is a bit of a surprise, right? Because let’s be honest: most of us picked up Ten and/or Badmotorfinger in late ’91, then got wise to Temple of the Dog and went back to pick that album up. And if you say you did it the other way around, you’re an outlier. Either that, or you’re playing the too-cool-for-school card.
And remember: the whole reason there was a Temple of the Dog to begin with was the March 1990 death of Andrew Wood, lead singer of Seattle proto-grunge act Mother Love Bone. Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were both members of Mother Love Bone; Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden had shared the stage with the band plenty of times. And Eddie Vedder, who would join Gossard and Ament to form Pearl Jam, was in the mix as well.
Wood, by all-accounts (and by his too-short discography), was an incredible vocalist and talent. So while it’s heartbreaking that he died as young as he did, having Temple of the Dog spring up from the ground in the wake of his death at least gives us something of substance. They’re a supergroup in reverse: an all-star lineup that had yet to prove themselves on their home teams. And the album still shines like a gem, 30 years on.