Pearl Jam, ‘PJ20′ – Album Review
Twenty years after the release of their multiplatinum breakthrough album ‘Ten,’ Pearl Jam are going on stronger than ever. With their career-spanning, Cameron Crowe-directed documentary ‘PJ20’ hitting theaters Sept. 20 and its accompanying book already out, fans looking for the stories behind the music have plenty to occupy themselves.
And for those simply focused on the music? Check out the companion two-disc ‘PJ20’ retrospective of hits and rarities, which offers something for those on either side of the spectrum, from casual fans to obsessive PJ freaks. To accomplish this goal in a nice, orderly manner, the ‘PJ20’ set is split up into two discs: ‘From the Film’ and ‘Rarities and Inspiration.’
‘From the Film’ is full of live takes that, as the name implies, are featured in Cameron Crowe’s ‘PJ20’ documentary. Boldly kicking things off with a stirring live version of ‘Ten’ closer ‘Release,’ the set goes on to offer up performance recordings of singles and hits like ‘Alive,’ ‘Not for You’ and ‘Black,’ plus rarities like ‘Walk With Me,’ recorded with Neil Young at the 2010 Bridge School benefit concert, and a heavily flanged take on ‘Crown of Thrones’ by Mother Love Bone (Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament’s pre-PJ band with late singer Andrew Wood).
‘Rarities and Inspiration’ goes deeper with cuts for the true PJ fanatic. Among the gems is a very rough demo of ‘Say Hello 2 Heaven’ by Temple of the Dog, the band formed by the members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell in homage to Andrew Wood. Demo versions of favorites like ‘Nothing as It Seems’ mix well alongside rough takes of rarities like ‘Times of Trouble,’ ‘Be Like Wind’ and the instrumental ‘Of the Girl.’ Also worth a listen is a delicate unplugged previously unreleased tune simply titled ‘Acoustic 1.’
Perhaps, nothing captures the immense worldwide phenomenon that is Pearl Jam better than a 2006 version of ‘Indifference.’ Recorded in an arena full of Italians singing along with Vedder to the goose-bump inducing is particularly impressive, offering first-hand proof of the band’s worldwide appeal.