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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Pearl Jam - Twenty' (Epic)
Artist - Pearl Jam

In honor of Pearl Jam's twentieth anniversary, award-winning director and music journalist Cameron Crowe created a definitive portrait of the seminal band carved from over 1,200 hours of rarely and never-before-seen footage, plus 24 hours of recently shot concert and interview footage.

Pearl Jam - Twenty chronicles the years leading up to the band's formation, the chaos that ensued soon-after their rise to mega-stardom, their step back from center stage, and the creation of a work culture that would sustain them.

Thus, the Pearl Jam - Twenty soundtrack is a career-spanning set of live recordings, demos and unreleased material that illuminates the band's creative process and showcases their awe-inspiring power as a live act.

Initially containing a handful of live recordings of classic tunes from Ten, it goes on to include two Temple of the Dog demos, a gorgeous cover of Mother Love Bone's 'Crown of Thorns,' the previously unheard recording 'Acoustic #1' and highlights from their appearances on MTV Unplugged and Saturday Night Live.

Indeed, the album kicks off with 'Release,' a song recorded in Verona, Italy that all-but ebbs its way out of the speakers before becoming the song we know. Vedder's vocal tones are perfect, as we had all hoped for, and he continues on with the haunting 'Alive.' The song, which doesn't contain that immediate punch of old days, still chills to the musical bone, for sure. Eddie then intro's 'Garden of Stone' to the Swiss audience, a song that actually sounds like it was recorded in a coffee house session somewhere in Ohio!

In a song that Eddie thanks Hamburg (Germany) for being there, the band crash into a completely frantic version of 'Why Go,' before a stunningly-beautiful, MTV Unplugged velvet-toned 'Black.' Temple of the Dog's screamed song 'Blood' is next, before the dark rocker 'Last Exit' (Taipei, Taiwan). Featuring a soaring chorus from Vedder, it is followed by a song about how youth is being sold and exploited, 'Not For You.'

The demo 'Do The Evolution' (from Monkeywrench Radio) is next, with a stunningly poignant 'Thumbing My Way Back To Heaven' following closely behind. Mother Love Bone's 'Crown of Thorns' is next, and is such an outstanding track to listen to; and I am so glad that it found its way onto this wonderful new collection. The subtle, gently sung short track 'Let Me Sleep' is next with the epic 'Walk With Me' - complete with Neil Young - backing it up in fine style. The beautiful 'Just Breathe' from Saturday Night Live wraps up the first disc.

The second disc opens with Temple of the Dog's combination of glam and grunge in the demo 'Say Hello 2 Heaven' and the instrumental demo 'Times of Trouble' follows thereafter. The previously unheard recording 'Acoustic #1' is next, and is a mumbled affair, and goes to show why it never got to see the light of day before now, in truth.

The short grunge-heavy, guitar-laden demo 'It Ain't Like That' was a B-side, double-grooved hidden track (remember vinyl?!), and then comes the muffled also-short rough cut 'Need To Know.' A plucked guitar leads us then into the instrumental demo 'Be Like Wind' before 'Given To Fly' gets the very same treatment. The quietly sung, quietly played demo 'Nothing As It Seems' is nice to hear after all this time of knowing what Pearl Jam can do, before Vedder then intro's the loud, live Seattle, WA version of the very same song! A song that sounds so different in this new form it is followed by a touching live 'Indifference' (Bologna, Italy) thereafter.

The ethereal instrumental 'Of The Girl' is next and is followed by the warbled 'Faithful' and then 'Bu$hleaguer' - a song that talks about the jackass that the US had then got for President, of course. Come its end Vedder admits he 'busted out' his best suit for them, which is a nice human touch! The last songs are 'Better Man,' with the entire first chorus being sung by the audience alone, and 'Rearviewmirror' from a date in Los Angeles, CA.

Review by: Russell A. Trunk