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Rage, Cornell Unshackle Audioslave

Chris Cornell and the remnants of Rage Against the Machine are ready to put the super back in their supergroup.

Yes, their hyped off-again, on-again collaboration is back on, and to prove it, they’re releasing an album and planning a tour.

After hooking up with much fanfare in early 2001, the group-then toying with the name Civilian-wrote 20 songs, hit the studio with Rick Rubin (who produced the last Rage album) and even signed on as an Ozzfest mainstager. But the project was seemingly scuttled when ex-Soundgarden singer Cornell walked last March.

The Ragers-guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk-made no announcements about searching for another singer. Rather, they collaborated on various film-related music with artists like DMX and Queens of the Stone Age. A few weeks ago, however, the rumor mill started churning out word the Rage-Soundgarden union was back in business with plans to release an album early next year. A few weeks ago, the group, now called Audioslave, launched a Website ( www.audioslavemusic.com) with cryptic photos of the members and a one-line description calling themselves “a Los Angeles- and Seattle-based band.” Epic Records followed up Friday with the official announcement, and, better still, an official album release date: November 19.

Audioslave’s self-titled debut will feature 14 original songs, including the lead single “Cochise.” Says Morello, “Cochise was the last great American Indian chief to die free and absolutely unconquered. When several members of his family were captured, tortured, and hung by the U.S. Cavalry, Cochise declared war on the entire Southwest and went on an unholy rampage, a warpath to end all warpaths…Cochise the Avenger, fearless and resolute, attacked everything in his path with an unbridled fury. This song kinda sounds like that.”

Music video director Mark Romanek, best known for Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” clip, will be shooting a video for “Cochise” later this month. The single hits radio in early October.

Epic also addressed the 13 Audioslave tunes that popped up on Internet file-sharing sites last May, after Cornell’s exit. The label downplayed those tracks, which originally appeared on a domain in Italy, as simply demos and raw versions of what will appear on the CD. Still, the demos might provide clues to Audioslave’s sound, showcasing a more straight-ahead rock, not the rock-rap style that Rage helped forge.

Meanwhile, the cause of Cornell’s exit earlier this year might have been resolved. Initial rumors suggested Cornell took issue with having two managers actively involved in the project-Jim Guerinot of Rebel Waltz represented Cornell, and Peter Mensch of Q Prime handled Rage. The re-formed Audioslave has hired a third-party management company, The Firm.

Until Cornell abruptly left, Audioslave had planned to be an ongoing project, not simply a one-off. While the group isn’t making any long-term commitments, a tour is in the works, with dates likely to be announced in the coming weeks.

Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, and Cornell released his nominally successful solo debut, Euphoria Morning, two years later. Rage splintered in 2000 when frontman Zack de la Rocha left in a huff. Still no word on de la Rocha’s long overdue solo album or on the status of the live Rage album Rubin produced before the band’s demise.

The Following Is A Track Listing For Audioslave’s Self-Titled Debut:

  • “Cochise”
  • “Show Me How to Live”
  • “Gasoline”
  • “What You Are”
  • “Like a Stone”
  • “Set It Off”
  • “Shadow of the Sun”
  • “I Am the Highway”
  • “Exploder”
  • “Hypnotize”
  • “Light My Way”
  • “Getaway Car”
  • “The Last Remaining Light”
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