Pearl Jam were doing the business at the same kind of time that Nirvana were starting out. A similar kind of grunge rock sound, the band continue to sell thousands of albums, though it is fair to say that their appeal in the UK has been in decline for a while. This best of album has two discs and has sixteen tracks on disc one and a staggering seventeen on the second disc.
The album begins with the slow burning 'Once' which has a mean and moody start before unleashing beasts of guitars and a very raw vocal from Eddie Vedder. It is grating, emotional and powerful and the song sounds like it was made for stadiums.
I have always like 'Alive' with inspiring lyrical content and some very aching vocals from Vedder. The chorus seems to take ages to unfold and there is anguish and pain in his vocals, cutting into the track like a knife. My next tip is the provoking 'Jeremy,' which is a little more accessible than the other two I mentioned. It has a biting vocal once again and an understated chorus which seems to languish and then pick itself up again for the verses.
'Even Flow' should thrill those who like it extra gritty with a feisty set of guitars from the outset paving the way for a brazen vocal. Vedder's vocals seem to effortlessly wrap around the lyrics here and the song has great pace.
'Dissident' is worth exploring, even if it does sound a Bon Jovi spin off at the start. A more restrained vocal on this work, allowing Vedder to tap into a deeper emotional port, though it still delivers on a satisfying and charged chorus. For something even more restrained, 'Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town' is an alluring number with a textured vocal and a good poised vocal, for those more tender moments.
'Wishlist' is a further shift into what I deem more adult and considered territory, mellower on the verses and proof that the band can strike composure at the right moments. It is tracks like these which provide a neat backdrop to the overtly heavy feel of disc one.
A solid best of and worth exploring if you like grungey rock music.
With a band with such a huge back catalogue, it's always hard for someone to just jump in and get interested in them. During their years in the business Pearl Jam went from MTV darlings to complete recluses and the music changed as often as they did.
With the release of their best of it finally give people with a slight interest in them somewhere to get started. The CDs cover all the Pearl Jam ground in terms of styles.
From the anthemic stadium rock of Alive and Even Flow, to the darker side of rock with Animal and to the sublime quieter side with Man of the Hour and Nothing Man.
As is usual with Pearl Jam, you get a very alternative CD sleeve, and some nice bits of card etc inside. Also the 2 CDs are split into UP and Down, giving an indication of what mood each CD covers.
If you are a Pearl Jam fan then there is probably nothing on this CD you don't already have, but then it is an excellent CD to pop in the car that kind of covers all bases on a long journey.
If you're not a fan of the band then maybe it gives you a reference point on where (time wise or style wise) in the bands career you could start when picking up some of their studio releases.
A sure treat for everyone is a studio version of Yellow Ledbetter, a song that came about with improvised words over improvised music (based heavily on Little Wing) that is just amazing. Touching on a heart wrenching subject matter and done with so much style.
In summing up, I am sure every fan of the band could argue that some songs should have been on the best of that weren't, and some that were shouldn't have been, but with a band this good that would always be the case.
You really can't go wrong with this double CD set.
I remember the first time I heard "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam. I was thunderstruck by the lyrics of the song. The story of a suicidal boy whose parents are the real problem. Here was a song that I related to. Not to mention, the brilliant, wavering, baritone voice of Eddie Vedder singing. That voice erupted into the Seattle music scene with thunder and lightning behind it.
Eddie Vedder is the writer of songs that deal with all of our social ills. Child abuse, spousal abuse, murder, homelessness, suicide and all of the terrible things that are hidden in so many of our lives. Pearl Jam has brought these things into the light, and forced everyone to take a long hard look at all that is wrong with our world.
Eddie Vedder's story is also interesting to know. He was actually raised by his mother and a stepfather. His mother and stepfather agreed that young Eddie would be told that the stepdad (Peter Mueller) was his real dad. Little did Eddie know, that his real dad was slowly dying of MS. He grew up thinking his real father was a family friend. By the time he found out the truth, it was too late. His real father, Ed Severson, had died. This led Eddie to great anger and bitterness towards his stepfather and his mother. He indulged in drugs and alcohol to dull the pain of knowing he had been deceived. His mother and Mueller eventually divorced, leaving Eddie even more angered because his mother had worked to put Mueller through school. Now he was out making good money and he wanted a divorce.
Vedder played in many garage bands and lost himself in the music. It was his friendship with Jack Irons (former Red Hot Chili Pepper's drummer) that changed his life. He connected Eddie to the band that would be Pearl Jam. The demo he sent of both his singing and lyrics, blew the other band members away. The fantastic album TEN would be the results.
Vedder is seen as difficult by some. Mostly because of his battle with Ticketmaster, and the refusal to do the usual music videos. But he is his own man, and his background certainly has influenced his personality. I admire him for his courage and commitment to social issues, even if I do not always agree with his stance.
Rear View Mirror contains two CDs and all of the bands great hits. The songs are as follows:
The story of a serial killer. A rocking, headbanging song with a driving guitar rhythm. I love the line, " I got a bomb in my temple that is gonna explode." I can, I am afraid, relate to the barely contained anger of this song. Vedder's voice is loud and powerful. And the music is hard and heavy. As actor Dennis Hopper once said," I am only a thread away from being a serial killer."
The first verses of Alive go as follows:
she said, have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy was nothin but a...
While you were sittin home alone at age thirteen
Your real daddy was dyin, sorry you didnt see him, but I'm
glad we talked...
Story of a young man who is told by his mother, that his real dad has died. Sounds like real life for Eddie, and it is. Introduced with a mesmerizing guitar followed by the drums, it is a real sing- a- long and another head bobbing tune. Eddie's voice is strong and bitter in this one. The music is heavy on the guitars and drums, perfectly complementing Eddie's voice. It is driving home the music until the bitter end. One of my favorites.
3. Even Flow
Story of a homeless man, and how everyone ignores his plight. A real body mover with a great guitar beat. The drums are great in his one and Vedder is at his best. I love the head banging guitar rhythm in the middle. Then the drums take over and the guitar so slowly comes back and you are rocking your ass off! The end is the bomb! Great song.
Pearl Jam's first hit and a real eye opener. A haunting song about a suicidal boy, ignored by his parents and bullied at school. Ultimately, he kills himself in front of his classmates. Eddie is at his most powerful here. His voice is fantastic and so very powerful as he wails in misery for Jeremy. I will never forget my amazement at the sound of Vedder's unbelievable voice. The music is great, slowly building in intensity to the story being sung. The video was an award winner. One of my favorite songs of all time. Powerful, and so very haunting.
5. State of Love & Trust
Comes on with driving guitars and drums.
Vedder is singing about bringing it on himself and the guitars agree with driving clarity. The drums are fantastic here and the guitars are blazing! A real rocker of a song.
A pulsing, pounding song that I love. A primitive emotion is unleashed by Vedder in this one. Story of a woman who is assaulted by 5 men. I used to think of my husband when I heard him singing the line," Why would you want to hurt me? So frightened of your face! I'd rather be with an animal! " The guitars are swirling and pulsing all around the pounding drums. And Vedder is at his powerful best!
Song about a woman who helps a fugitive running from the police. She ends up turning him in when the pressure becomes too much for her. I really love this song. It starts out so mellow and slow and then blazes to life. I especially love the way Vedder sings this one. So smooth, but so passionate in the chorus. Drums and guitars are awesome here. A great one.
9. Rear View Mirror
This is a song that changed my life, and that is no lie.The first time I heard it, the lyrics stunned me. It was as if someone had stolen lines from the inside of my head and heart, and put them to song. I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to this, with tears streaming down my face. I felt the anger and bitterness in my soul bursting out with so much force, I could not ever be the same. I also found release from it, the more I listened to the song. At the end, I feel nothing but triumph over everything. All of the abuse in my life played out before me in this song, and in the end, I am free, and it is behind me. And Vedder sings his soul out here. I can feel the passion in his voice as he sings and I feel the power of the words.The music plays up to the powerful lyrics and in the end, brings sweet release from the hellish memories of an abusive past. The lyrics are:
I took a drive today
Time to emancipate
I guess it was the beatings (made me wise)
But I'm not about to give thanks or apologize
I couldn't breathe
holdin' me down
Hand on my face
pushed to the ground
Enmity gauged, united by fear
forced to endure
What I could not forgive....
I seem to look away
Wounds in the mirror waved
It wasn't my surface
Head at your feet
Fool to your crown
Fist on my plate
Swallowed it down
Enmity gauged, united by fear
Tried to endure, what I could not forgive
Once you, were in my.......rear view mirror.....
I gather speed
from you fucking with me
Once and for all
I'm far away
I hardly believe,
finally, the shades.... are raised.
saw things so much clearer
Once you, once you
rear view mirror.
Saw things so much clearer
once you......once you
rear view mirror.
A song that has changed my life, and released the demons I had inside of me. Powerful and life changing.
10. Spin the Black Circle
Grammy award winner about the playing vinyl records. Driving, rocking song that is a real head nodder. Full of incredible energy from both the music and Vedder's singing. The guitars are blazing here and the drums are fierce.
A slow building guitar intro, erupts into the song. Some great lyrics here. Eddie sings, " I don't want to take what you can give. I would rather starve than eat your bread." Another great soul stirrer and the music is great. "Can't buy what I want because it's free." The music is rocking and you will be moved by the lyrics.
12. Not for You
This is a scornful song about being annoyed at seeing certain people plastered all over everything you see. I can relate to that, as you always are seeing certain singers splattered all over everything. (Beyonce' is foremost in my mind) It is overkill of celebrity status! Guitars are loud and wonderful, and in places it slows down to a crawl, just to build back up.
13. I got ID
I love Vedder's voice in this one. It is stunning in it's beauty and lyric.
The music is wonderful with the guitars rising above everything else. Beautiful in every way. Everyone needs to feel loved and be loved. The lyrics:
My lips are shaking, my nails are bit off
Been a month and a day since I heard myself talk
Only advantage this life's got on me
Picture an empty cup in the middle of the sea
And I fight back in my mind
Never lets me be right
I've got memories, I've got shit
So much it don't show
Oh, I walked the line, when you held me in that night
Oh, I walked the line, when you held my hand that night
An empty shell seems so easy to crack
I Got questions, don't know who the fuck I'm ever gonna ask
So I'll just lie alone and wait for a dream
Where I'm not ugly and you're looking at me
And I'll stay in bed
All blue, I've seen hell
If just once I could feel love
Oh, stare back at me
Oh, I walked the line, when you held me in that night
Oh, I walked the line, when you held my hand that night
Oh, I walked the line, when you held me close that night
Oh, I paid the price, never held you in real life
Rock, rock and more rock. A body mover and head nodder here. Vedder's voice is in control and great. It is about trying to save a relationship in trouble.
15. Do the Evolution
A blockbuster of a song. Another rocker that will have your head bobbin' to it. The music is awesome and I especially love the clicking sound of the guitar.The lyrics are great. Scornful and passionate in his opinion of how we have evolved. Vedder is screaming his opinion at the end. Great song (and video).
16. Save You
Rocking guitar intro to this one as Eddie is singing about helping a friend in trouble. Whatever the case, he is there for the friend, as the friend was always there for him. A rockin' good song!
A truly great song. Story of a man who is in so much pain from losing his girlfriend. From the awesome album,"Ten", this is a powerful song about pain and loss. The opening strumming guitar and Vedder's plaintive wailing start it. His voice is stirring and mesmerizing as it surrounds us with his pain and misery. The lyrics are moving and beautiful. " And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass...of what was everything. " There are no words to describe the power of this song. It is deep, haunting, painful and simply amazing to hear and sing it with Vedder. You have to sing it, because you are compelled to. A haunting masterpiece.
"Reach the door. Leave while you still can". I take it as a song of hope and an escape from a painful life. Go out into the world and make a new life. More of a thinking song. The music is not as loud and strong as some of the other tracks, but nice, regardless.
A big hit for the band and a beautiful song. Vedder's voice is wonderful in this. Warm, earnest and beautiful. Tells of a girl who has a mother who does not understand her,and punishes her because of it. (She has a learning disability, Vedder says in an interview). A beautiful song that strikes a chord in the heart. "She holds the hand that holds her down."
4. Elderly Woman behind the Counter in a Small Town
A poignant remembrance of a person from the past. Softly sung, and the music is nice and comforting to hear. The lady is always been in this town and regrets never leaving and seeing more of the world. Lovely song.
A lot of people think this song refers to Kurt Cobain's suicide. Vedder has denied this, but then, he would. It is a sad song about death and hopelessness. I do think it refers to suicide and those who cannot endure this sometimes, hard life. A real thought provoking song. Slowly sung and the music is great.
6. Better Man
I really love this song. Vedder has often introduced this song as dedicated, "to that bastard that married my mother." LOL. I guess this woman feels she can't do any better than this man. I love the guitar that leads into the song.The lyrics are great. I feel it also is about abuse, and she wants to tell him she won't take anymore, but she just cannot find the will to do it. The song leads into some great music that will have you moving to it, unless you are deaf or dead. Wonderful song and Vedder is hot.
I take it as a relationship that is going nowhere. Vedder's voice is velvety and soft as he sings this. This man is going nowhere good. Beautiful song, and Vedder is convincing in his sincererity to tell this story. His voice is so wonderful and clear. And totally unforgettable to hear in this song. The music soft and lovely.
8. Who you are
About the partner that always holds you up. The strong one in the relationship who is always ready to be strong for both of you. The music is different here. Strumming guitar and a nice beat in between.
9. Off He Goes
A softly strumming guitar and Vedder's soft voice starts this. A really beautiful song in both music and voice. Really relaxing and so nice to listen too. A song about a friend who is sometimes difficult to deal with. Vedder once, said it was about himself. It is really wonderful to close your eyes and let it drift over you, in it's soft waves of loveliness. I love it.
10. Given to fly
What a great song this is! A Lot of people think it is about Jesus, and that includes me. Starts off so soft and lovely, and then explodes into a lifting wave of music and powerful vocals and then goes back soft and lovely. Vedder is simply awesome in this one. The music is crashing over you as Vedder's powerhouse of a voice delivers such emotion. Some of the lyrics:
He floated back down 'cause he wanted to share
His key to the locks on the chains he saw everywhere
But first he was stripped and then he was stabbed
By faceless men, well, fuckers
He still stands
And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved
And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
A human being that was given to fly
A moving, brilliant masterpiece of a song. One of my favorites.
11. Wish List
Another outstanding song from PJ! The intro is great with a strumming guitar and then in comes the drums. Vedder's soft, mesmerizing voice softly sings of being all things, " I wish I was as fortunate.... as fortunate as me." Some fantastic lyrics here, and the guitars echo lovely in the background. Vedder is at his best here. Another masterpiece to close your eyes to and let the beauty wash over you.
12. Last Kiss
Flashback! Originally done in the 60s by Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, it is based on a true story of a wreck that killed 3 teenagers. Vedder is outstanding here. His voice is haunting and strong. I love this, and I was really surprised to hear they had done this song. This car wreck kills the girl, but the boyfriend gets one last kiss before she dies. Beautifully done remake.
' 13. Nothing as it Seems
Haunting, echoing guitars start this one. I love the guitar solo in this and Vedder's soft voice. It swirls and dances around your mind as you listen to it. The guitars flow like water, soothing and wonderful, and then there is Vedder, with his beautiful voice.
While things may seem one way, they can actually be another. So don't judge.
14. Light Years
There is nothing like the voice of Eddie Vedder. His voice is beautiful to to hear. This is a prime example of it. I love the waver in his voice. The music is good and flows right into his voice so perfectly. It tells of the sudden loss of someone. Beautifully done.
15. I am Mine
The ocean is full cause everyone's crying
The full moon is looking for friends at high tide
The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrow's denied
I only know my mind
I am mine
You own the time from when you are born until when you die. Don't waste it. This is a great song with so much meaning. A great listen, for sure.
16. Man of the Hour
I love the beautiful intro to this song. Vedder's voice flows over me in waves of velvetly beauty. The music is wonderful and relaxing as it blends into his voice and compliments it. A beautiful song to listen to. It tells of the death of a young man's father, and the feelings the young man feels, at his death.
17. Yellow Ledbetter
Somewhat bluesy sounding and moving. This final cut is great. The guitars are fantastic and the drums are sounding good. Vedder is awesome, as always here. That wonderful voice does not fail him here. As Vedder tells it, this is the story of a young kid with his long hair and grungy dress who receives a letter in the mail that tells him his brother has died in the war. He goes for a walk and passes a house with the American flag and an older couple on the porch. Seeing the flag, he waves at them, but they do not wave back. It is because of his looks, but his brother died for that flag. Great song and so true. Never judge someone by their looks or dress. You do not know what they are going through or what is inside of their hearts.
To say that Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam struck a chord in me, is an understatement. From that first great album,''' Ten, ''' to today, they are part of me.
Eddie Vedder seems like someone I know. He is such a real person and his emotions come through in every song. The childhood he experienced fueled his lyrics, and the lyrics are embedded in my brain. He is my voice, and the voice of so many, who have felt so much pain and anger of an abusive childhood and life. He has torn away the shield I had in place to hide my feelings. Now my life has started anew. Long live Pearl Jam. They made me see things so much clearer. Finally.... the shades are raised.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Once (2004 Remix)
2 Alive (2004 Remix)
3 Even Flow
5 State Of Love And Trust
10 Spin The Black Circle
12 Not For You
13 I Got S**t
14 Hail, Hail
15 Do The Evolution
16 Save You
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Black (2004 Remix)
4 Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town
6 Better Man
8 Who You Are
9 Off He Goes
10 Given To Fly
12 Last Kiss
13 Nothing As It Seems
14 Light Years
15 I Am Mine
16 Man Of The Hour
17 Yellow Ledbette