Echo of Miles: The Originals

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Mere months after Superunknown received an extravagant, super deluxe box came Echo of Miles: Scattered Across the Path, a triple-disc collection of rarities from Soundgarden's prime. Divided into three thematic sets -- "Originals," containing stray songs and B-sides; "Covers," including B-sides, Peel Sessions, various live performances, and, strangely, things that popped up on Ultramega OK, and "Oddities," which contains more B-sides, remixes, and previously unreleased cuts -- Echo of Miles nevertheless plays like a clearinghouse, where it's imperative for the listener to sort out the gems from the dross. It is worth taking time to find the keepers, many of which do arrive on the first disc where the band not only indulge in thick, crawling sludge but don't hide their perverse sense of humor, a trait they often suppressed on their full-length records. That's one of the nice things about Echo of Miles: like many rarities collections, it gets to the heart of the group's character through its mess, through how it sets their impishness alongside their muscle. Originals is the best of the batch, particularly in how it illustrates their growth from malicious underground rockers into arena titans, and it contains such highlights as "Heretic" and "Birth Ritual," their contribution to the Singles soundtrack.

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