Pearl Jam is recording its seventh and final studio album under contract for Epic, but published reports suggest the Seattle band has already begun shopping its services to other labels. "This next al

Pearl Jam is recording its seventh and final studio album under contract for Epic, but published reports suggest the Seattle band has already begun shopping its services to other labels. "This next album fulfills our current contract with Epic, but we plan to renegotiate with them and are hopeful we can work out a new deal that makes sense for the band and label," Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis tells Billboard.com.

The as-yet-untitled upcoming set is being co-produced by the band with Adam Kasper, who served as an assistant engineer on Pearl Jam's 1994 album "Vitalogy" and has previously worked with such artists as Foo Fighters, Nirvana, and Soundgarden. "The band is settled into the studio and they are working hard," reads a post on the official Web site for the band's Ten Club fan organization. The album is tentatively scheduled for a fall release.

During its first three shows of 2001 at last October's Bridge School and Groundwork benefits, Pearl Jam unveiled the new songs "Last Soldier" and "I Am Mine," which were written just prior to the performances. "We decided we were all going to bring a song in and work them up before Bridge School," guitarist Stone Gossard told Billboard.com in December. "Those were the two that really came together the easiest."

A live version of "Last Soldier" was subsequently released on the band's annual Christmas single for Ten Club members, along with a live rendition of Pearl Jam's "Indifference" featuring Ben Harper on vocals, plus covers of John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth" and the Ramones' "I Just Want To Have Something To Do."

In other news, Pearl Jam has put a planned rarities collection on hold for the time being, but hopes to resurrect the project at some point. Frontman Eddie Vedder will take a break from recording tonight (Feb. 26) to perform live alongside Beck and Social Distortion's Mike Ness as part of the Recording Artist Coalition benefits in and around Los Angeles. The acoustic show will be held at the city's Wiltern Theatre. Vedder returns to L.A. to play a March 15 solo gig at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival.

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