The season for overindulgence may be officially over, but while this three-CD rarities set might look rather meagre next to some of the recent multi-disc epics from other big names, at 50 tracks it’s still a substantial body of material, ranging from the utterly sublime to the plainly ridiculous.
Curated by guitarist Kim Thayil, this project has been gestating for nearly two decades and finally allows fans to plug the gaps in their collections without spending an eternity on eBay, hunting down compilation albums, soundtracks, multi-part singles and EPs for these gems.
Organised thematically as Originals, Covers and Oddities, the real meat resides on the Originals disc, much of which will provoke puzzlement and wonder at why several of the 18 songs weren’t included on any albums back in the day./o:p
Almost every track is essential, so picking highlights is kind of futile, though the haunting menace of Toy Box and murderously eerie Fresh Deadly Roses are very welcome blasts from the past. Exit Stonehenge – a thrash metal parody – is perhaps the only misfire, though it’s short enough not to spoil the flow from Kyle Petty, Son Of Richard to Blind Dogs. Two previously unreleased tracks round things off: Kristi, salvaged from the Down On The Upside sessions, and very early live favourite Storm, which has remained unrecorded until now.
The Covers disc might not ripple with the fearsomely dark undercurrents of the Originals, but it does shed light on Soundgarden’s formative influences, not least Budgie’s Homicidal Suicidal and The Stooges’ Search And Destroy. Again, a couple of previously unreleased Peel Session tunes – The Beatles’ Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey and Sly & the Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – add value.
The Oddities disc, however, is something of a seven-stone weakling next to its strapping siblings. A cluster of instrumentals kick things off, including the previously unreleased Twin Tower and pointless Ghostmotorfinger – Thayil’s guitar making motorbike noises for a minute and a half – and it’s easy to imagine most people listening to the final half a dozen so-so remixes only once.
In essence, Echo Of Miles is a long-overdue magic bullet for Soundgarden completists, and even casual fans will surely marvel at just how cohesive the Originals disc is and how much fun the Covers are. At long last, some of Soundgarden’s best, hardest to find songs have a place they can call home./o:p