FEBRUARY 2011 COVER STORY – Pearl Jam Kicks off 20-Year Anniversary ‘Live On Ten Legs’

It was once said to me that Pearl Jam is the new Grateful Dead because of their obessively dedicated fans, not to mention Pearl Jam’s legendary live shows.

For me, maybe I wouldn’t have compared the Seattle rockers to the hippies of Haight-Ashbury simply because Dead Heads kind of creep me out. However, in this day and age of disposable digital music, you’d be hard pressed to find a rock band with a bigger and more dedicated following than Pearl Jam.

It’s hard to believe Jeff Ament (bass); Matt Cameron (drums); Stone Gossard (guitar); Mike McCready (guitar) and Ed Vedder (vocals/guitar) are embarking on their twentieth year togather as a band – another feat not many bands can lay claim to.

In honor of this special anniversary, Pearl Jam has a big year planned with many rereleases and other surprises for their fans. To get things started the band released their second “offical” live album last month, Live on Ten Legs.

It’s been more than 12 years since Pearl Jam released their debut live album, the platinum Live on Two Legs, to the public. But if you are a member of the bands fan club – 10 Club – you have been privledged to the bands live bootleg series which kicked off in 2003. The band has released every show from every tour since then and the plethora of live Pearl Jam material is mind numbing to think about.

So why release Live on Ten Legs?

The answer is simple. Longtime Pearl Jam live engineer John Burton sifted through the massive amounts of live recordings since 2003 and, along with the band, hand-picked 18 of the best live version of some of Pearl Jam’s classics, new songs and unreleased songs. Remixed by longtime Pearl Jam engineer Brett Eliason, this is a live compilation, not only for the diehead collectors, but the casual fans who are not as “obsessed” with Pearl Jam.

Released through Pearl Jam’s Ten Club and select digital along with independent music retailers, the album spans the bands relentless touring schedule from 2003-2010.

Live on Ten Legs opens with firey rendition of the Joe Strummer song “Arms Aloft” then soars in to “World Wide Suicide” and the spirited crowd singalong “Animal.” Vedder checks on the crowd to make sure they are safe then the CD seamlessly rolls into their new rocker “Got Some” and follows with a trip down memory lane on the driving fan favorite “State of Love And Trust.”

The compilation encompasses a smooth transistion from one song to the next ballancing old and new back to back with one of Pearl Jam’s most overlooked new numbers “Unthought Known,” which boils over into the classic rocker “Rearview Mirror.”

After the bands gos for the quick knock out on “The Fixer,” the pace settles with a trio of down-tempo numbers “Nothing As It Seems,” “In Hiding,” and “Just Breathe.”

Kicking back into the punk, the quintet does a rare cover of the Public Image Ltd. song “Public Image,” then amps it up even further closing with “Spin the Black Circle,” “Porch,” and “Alive.” The encore, if you will, is the standard closer “Yellow Ledbetter,” which happens to be my least favorite Pearl Jam song ever because it reminds me of every frat boy who only liked the band for about ten minutes.

Live on Ten Legs – which comes in a a deluxe version includes a CD, double LP package, four mini poster reprints, five live photos and a tour laminate – captures the powerful experience of a live Pearl Jam show. The remastering is flawless with crystal clear vocals from Vedder and guitars from both McCready and Gossard. With Ament’s rolling bass and Cameron’s precision drum playing, the band continues to sound at the top of their game 20 years after they formed.

Like any compilation from a band with this deep of a back-catalog, some fans will question the track listing, but hey, you can’t go wrong with these 18 selections. There is something here for old and new fans alike.

Happy 20th Birthday, Pearl Jam…thanks for the great music.