Pearl Jam glance back, look ahead
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
Before we get any further, I must admit a personal bias: I hate "greatest hits" albums. Absolutely loathe them. I feel like they take away from the band’s career, make the full albums useless, and inevitably boil a band who’s been working for years down to 15 songs and a jukebox appearance.
That said ... I really, really like what Epic has done here with rearviewmirror. And that hurts me a little.
Pearl Jam’s entire career has been based on forgetting the past, forging ahead in newer, weirder directions on every studio album, and putting on a blazing show every second they get. Their live set is as far from a "greatest hits" set as one could get, and after the release of the b-sides collection Lost Dogs, it seemed like this set would never come out – and I wouldn’t have been happier.
But it still happened, and damn if they didn’t do it right. This set, divided into two discs titled "Up Side" and "Down Side," actually paints an accurate picture of the band’s career to date. It’s not seven songs from Ten, "Last Kiss" and a couple of other throw-ins, there’s even representation through their career, showing their transformation from a thrashing, bombastic, classic rock/punk band to a mature outfit that are just as capable of adding subtle, subdued touches as they are blowing out a Marshall amp at any second.
There’s a little something for everyone here. For Pearl Jam newbies, all the radio hits are here, and for the fanatically obsessed, there are several subtle changes, including re-mixes of "Alive," "Once" and "Black" that strip away all of the studio gloss to leave just the raw, live sounding core. "State of Love and Trust" seems to have been enhanced a bit, and "Who You Are" has a lyric change in the second verse.
In the end, though, it’s just a glance back into the past. The evolution of the band is shown for everyone to see, and as soon as the package is opened it’s clear that this is not a band living in the past. This set, if nothing else, liberates them to continue forward. It’s also important to note the significance of the name rearviewmirror: This is a band content to glance back once in a while for their own benefit, but they won't stop moving ahead.
E-mail Nick Tavares at firstname.lastname@example.org