Seattle hard rock outfit Soundgarden has graced a long and vivid music career. With six studio albums, several EP’s, a live album, and multiple soundtrack appearances spanning almost three decades, the long awaited b-sides collection Echo Of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path is guaranteed to please any Soundgarden fan, or any fan of hard rock and metal. This collection was unleashed November 24, and contains three discs of some of the best Soundgarden tracks you will ever hear. It contains ultra rare recordings that are damn near impossible to find, some tracks are familiar, some are so rare that they’re going to sound new.
And that’s the beauty of this collection.
The first disc contains eighteen original tracks, including two brand new recorded songs. The first track “Sub Pop Rock City” is an early recording from Soundgarden’s Sub Pop Records era, a very groovy Rolling Stones-like track. A very odd but rocking track. Then the album goes into “Toy Box,” off the ultra rare Flower EP. A very gloomy Sabbathy tune. Killer slow rifts from Kim Thayil with crazy and gloomy vocals from Chris Cornell. The next two tracks “Heretic” and “Fresh Deadly Roses” are more bizarre, both off of the Loudest Love EP , which has more distorted and screeching guitars from Thayil and Cornell screaming bloody murder. The album then goes into a groovy and fast track called “H.I.V. Baby” which was recorded live during Soundgarden’s early years and wound up as a b-side to “Room A Thousand Years Wide.” The quality isn’t the greatest, but it sounds dirty and distorted, but that’s the beauty of Soundgarden’s early work. Then we get a very heavy track called “Cold Bitch,” b-side to “Spoonman.” that Cornell wrote about an ex-lover.
The album switches gears a bit with the track “Show Me,” a track written by bassist Ben Shepherd before going into “She’s A Politician,” which is a very short track. Then we are graced with the heavy “Birth Ritual” which was off of the movie soundtrack “Singles.” This is easily one of the best tracks from this collection. Catchy rifts from Thayil, clutch drumming from Matt Cameron, and Cornell really bringing the best of his vocal range. The album takes another strange turn with the track “She Likes Surprises” which was originally off of Songs From Superunknown EP. Then it gets heavy again with “Kyle Petty, Son Of Richard” and “Exit Stonehenge” Both tracks are very heavy but strange, can’t help the fact that they’re catchy, “Kyle Petty, Son Of Richard” may be stuck in your head for days after listening to it thanks to some of best guitar work from Thayil. Gloominess sinks again with “Blind Dogs.” This one is pretty much a stoner track because it’s slow and trippy. “Bleed Together” which was off the best-of compilation A-Sides, was a track that was originally supposed to appear on Down On The Upside but never made the cut, anyone familiar with that album will have a good idea on how that track sounds like and makes you wonder how on earth this song didn’t make the cut at the time. “Black Rain” graces this album as well, which was first released off the retrospective album Telephantasm, but was originally supposed to be on Badmotorfinger. Another track that makes you scratch your head and wonder why it never made the original album. It’s a heavy track that has Cornell screaming his best vocals. “Live To Rise”, made famous from The Avengers movie soundtrack, finally gracing a Soundgarden album. This one is probably the only radio-friendly song on this collection. Finally, the album closes with two brand new recorded tracks starting with “Kristi.” This song really put a smile on my face. It’s Soundgarden going back to the heaviness that was Badmotorfinger. A catchy song with the slow, heavy, down-tuned guitar rifts from Thayil. It’s been so long since we heard Soundgarden go this heavy. Although I enjoyed 2012’s King Animal, it didn’t have that really heavy old school Soundgarden sound. “Kristi” does just that. Disc one closes with the brand new track “Storm,” this track combines the sound of the Ultramega OK and Superunknown, which is a really clever way to close this part of the collection.
The second disc contains covers recorded over Soundgarden’s entire career. The first track is “Swallow My Pride” which is a fellow Seattle band Green River cover originally off of the Fopp EP. A really fun track to listen to start this album. “Smokestack Lightnin’”, a Howlin’ Wolf cover, was originally recorded on Soundgarden’s first full length album Ultramega OK. Then we get one of two Beatles covers on this disc starting with “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)” this is where Soundgarden really shines, because all four members said that The Beatles were one of their main influences. The album continues with another brilliant cover with Sly And The Family Stone’s “Thank U”, a heavier and more obscure take on this song. Right after that, we get the second Beatles cover with “Come Together”, the best version of this song you will ever hear – slow, heavy, and distorted. Clearly Soundgarden are experts at deviating cover songs. Then they managed to cover The Rolling Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues,” a cool cover, but doesn’t stand out like the other covers. The next cover is easily best one, Soundgarden covers Black Sabbath’s “Into The Void” but they change the lyrics from the song with lyrics about Chief Sealth, a historic Native American that lived in the Seattle region in the 1800’s. A brilliant take on this song. Thayil does a wonderful job replicating Tony Iommi’s iconic rifts and solo’s while Cornell does such a great take on Ozzy Osbourne. Nothing can beat this.
Soundgarden then pays tribute to Devo with an excellent cover of “Girl U Want”; any fan of Devo will appreciate this cover. Soundgarden pays tribute to The Doors with two tracks on this disc starting with “Touch Me” with Stephanie Barber, who is a friend of the band sang on this song with Cornell. This may be the only recording where we hear Cornell partake in a duet. Soundgarden manages to cover Jimi Hendirx’s “Can You See Me” on the next track. Hearing Thayil’s take on Jimi Hendrix’s guitar solos is absolutely fascinating. Then we get a cover of Budgie’s “Homicidal Suicidal,” a really slow and sludgie song. Clearly this band was an influence on Soundgarden which is why they must of decided to cover this song. Soundgarden pays tribute to seventies punk with the next two tracks starting with a cover of The Ramones’ “I Can’t Give You Anything” and Fear’s “I Don’t Care About You.” Both are fun tracks to listen to, especially if you’re a fan of that era. We get the other Doors cover on the next track with “Waiting For The Sun” with a live recording of it, originally on 2011’s expanded version of Live on I-5. A slow and really heavy version of this song. Then we get another cover from that same album with a cover of The Stooges “Search And Destroy” Again, its heavy, but this one is faster than the last cover. Soundgarden puts out the third consecutive live cover, but this time, they go extremely out of the band’s character by covering Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom.” It’s amusing, but it contains punishing guitars, a real treat to listen to. Finally the album closes with yet another out of character cover, this time, Soundgarden covers Cheech & Chong’s “Earache My Eye.” This one is recorded live as well, and holy cow is it funny to listen too. It’s nice to see Soundgarden who is really known as a serious band show off their sense of humor on this album. I would say that the covers are the main reason to purchase this album.
The third disc contains fifteen oddities. Including remixes and instrumentals plus two brand new tracks. The album kicks off with “Twin Tower,” a brand new instrumental tune. This tune has Thayil’s guitar work front and center along with some powerful drumming from Cameron. The next track is another instrumental tune “Jerry Garcia’s Finger” which was the b-side to “Pretty Noose.” This track is kind of pointless. I think the band threw this in as a joke. The album segways with another strange instrumental tune “Ghostmotorfinger,” which is just sound of a motorcycle looping, again pointless, unless you’re really stoned off your ass. (giggles) Then we get another brand new unreleased instrumental track called “Night Surf.” This one is a bit haunting, nothing spectacular but a nice change of pace from the previous two tracks. The next track “A Splice Of Space Jam,” yet another instrumental similar the previous track, was a b-side to “Blow Up The Outside World,” again, nothing spectacular. Finally , we get an excellent instrumental tune “The Telephantasm” which was recorded during the Fopp era of Soundgarden. This one is groovy and fun to listen to, miles above the other instrumentals.
A full blown song with “Black Days III” which is off the 20th anniversary of Superunknown. This is the third version of the song “Fell On Black Days.” It’s an awesome take on the song with more down tuned guitars and Cornell screaming more than singing. Now you get a sense the album is picking up more. Then the b-side to song “Burden In My Hand” called “Karaoke” kicks in, this is a cool track with some fine drumming from Cameron and strange lyrics from Cornell. Next is “Fopp (Fucked Up Heavy Dub Mix)” off of the Fopp EP. I absolutely love this track. It contains clips of Godzilla: King Of The Monsters in it, including that famous roar, and the speech from Raymond Burr’s character. This song has a place in my heart due to my love for kaiju films. Then the album kicks into a remix of “Big Dumb Sex.” This is one of my favorite songs of Louder Than Love but it’s a whole different but interesting take on it. It’s definitely worth a listen to it. This was the b-side to “Loud Love.” After that, the album goes into a really crazy version of the classic “Spoonman,” this version is more a trippy hip hop remix of it, and it also includes more Godzilla roars. Soundgarden must be a huge fan of Godzilla. Next, we get a very cleaver remix of “Rhinosaur” which was the b-side to “Ty Cobb” I really like how they produced Cornell’s voice and remixed Thayil’s guitar track. Excellent production on this track. That trend continues into the next track with the remix of “Dusty.” They made it softer and gloomier, but again, the production is excellent. The album wraps things up with a remix of “The Telephantasm” before going into the pointless track “One Minute Of Silence” (which exactly what it is). Calling this disc full of oddities is definitely true. No other way to put it. Some tracks are pointless, but contains so awesome remixes.
Overall, this is a fantastic and must own album. It’s a tad bit pricey due to the fact that it is three discs of material, but its brilliant and takes you on a journey showcasing the true talent of Soundgarden, showing that their b-sides, covers, and rare tracks are still boss over 99% of music that is out there right now. I’m glad Soundgarden took the time to dig deep and release these songs in a compilation, because they’re damn near impossible to find. Invest your money, and invest your ears to this album, you will be happy that you did.
You can purchase Soundgarden’s Echo Of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path here.
Disc One: H.I.V. Baby, Birth Ritual, Kristi
Disc Two: Thank You, Come Together, Into The Void
Disc Three: The Telephantasm, Black Days III, Fopp (Fucked Up Heavy Dub Mix)