Forget everything you knew about Chris Cornell — he’s not the same guy anymore. In fact, Soundgarden is the first thing that you have to get out of your head if his new collaboration with Timbaland is going to work for you. Forget that Cornell was ever the wild-haired, triple-octave, barbaric front man of one of Seattle’s more aggressive grunge bands. Most often shirtless and with attitude, Cornell was considered by some to be heir apparent to Robert Plant’s heavy-metal legacy.
These days, Cornell owns a restaurant in Paris. His first two solo albums were cut from the same melodic cloth as the Fab Four (even though he turned John Lennon’s plaintive “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” into a large-scale boozy rant). Recently out of Audioslave, Cornell brought Timbaland in to mix a few songs for his new solo project. Encouraged by the results, Cornell not only finished the album with the rapper but also has launched a major club tour in which the two share the spotlight.
Timbaland is a mega-star hip-hop producer with a client list that includes names like Justin Timberlake and Aaliyah. He is known for creating unexpected melodies and beats that shift all over the place, for which industry insiders say he is paid righteous sums of money. Although he and Cornell are musical opposites, Timbaland’s work on Cornell’s third solo album, Scream, is a hit. The music is as complex as anything Soundgarden ever put out back in the day, but it also blends the artists’ disparate influences into a seamless wallpaper of hipness. This isn’t Run-D.M.C. reviving Aerosmith’s career with a rework of “Walk This Way” — for a minute, Timbaland’s got me half believing that Chris Cornell can pull it off as an R&B singer.
CHRIS CORNELL & TIMBALAND, House of Blues, Sunday, October 26, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $32.50.