Pearl Jam has not been shy about digging into its archives in the years running up to its current 20th anniversary bonanza. The elaborate reissue of its classic 1991 debut, heavy on extras, came in 2009, and earlier this year the Seattle group released a similarly value-added dual rerelease of 1993's 'Vs.' and 1994's 'Vitalogy.' But with Cameron Crowe's career-spanning documentary 'Pearl Jam Twenty' in theaters worldwide today (Sept. 20) along with a massive companion book of the same name, for the soundtrack, the famously rock-friendly director did what any fan with such unprecedented access to the bands vaults would: he made an epic mix tape.
"Blood" (from March 25, 1995 Aukland, New Zealand)
A raw live version of the track from 1993's "Vs." Crowe: "It's an in-the-moment response to the group's increasing success. The performance is almost violent, a demand for oxygen."
"Last Exit" (from Feb. 24, 1995, Taipei Taiwan)
Crowe: "It was a challenging time to go, … 'We might be a different band right now'" says Stone Gossard. "And maybe [the audiences] will like the new band." They did.
"Not For You" (from Feb. 26, 1995 Manila)
Crowe: "Spurred by Vedder's early defiance that the band not be used as a took for salesmanship. This cornerstone song from 'Vitalogy' shows the band at full raging force."
"Do The Evolution" (from Jan. 31, 1998 Monkeywrench Radio)
The raw, infectious rocker from 1998's Yield sent out from their Seattle studio space into the radio ether. Crowe: "The band filmed the performances, making the most of a small room filled with big noise."
"Thumbing My Way" (from Sept. 6, 2002 Seattle)
"This graceful acoustic performance captured the spirit of one of the band's favorite tracks from 'Riot Act'," Crowe writes. "We used it [in the film] to score a trip to Montana with Jeff Ament."
"Crown Of Thorns" (from Oct. 22, 2000 Las Vegas)
On Eddie Vedder's request at Pearl Jam's 10th anniversary show, the band covers this song by the late Andy Wood, frontman of pre-Pearl Jam band Mother Love Bone. Crowe: "Asked about it in 2010, Vedder recalled their afternoon soundcheck rehearsal of the song as a 'nearly blinding light-show of emotions."
"Let Me Sleep" (from Sept. 16, 2006 Verona pre-show)
Crowe: "A stolen moment from the road captured for posterity by Danny Clinch's cameras."
"Walk With Me" (from Oct. 23, 2010 Mountain View, CA)
Crowe: "Always searching for a song to perform together, PJ picked a choice track from [Neil] Young's 'Le Noise.' Young obliged and the result is this soulful union of old friends."
"Just Breathe" (from March 13, 2010, 'Saturday Night Live')
Crowe: "The group's history only makes this open-hearted composition more powerful." Vedder's ballad of enduring relationships, from 2009's "Backspacer," performed live on television.
"Say Hello 2 Heaven" (Temple of the Dog Demo, 1990)
Crowe: "Hearing this track and others brought back a flood of memories for everybody involved." One of Chris Cornell's first songs written in tribute to the late Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood, it became the beginning of the Temple of the Dog project that joined MLBer's new band, Pearl Jam, with half of Soundgarden.
"Times of Trouble" (Instrumental Demo, 1990)
Crowe: "'Times Of Trouble' is a track from the original demo tape made by Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament with help from Mike McCready and Matt Cameron. The one missing ingredient -- a singer." When the tape landed with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, it became Temple of the Dog's song by this name. When it landed with San Diego surfer Eddie Vedder, it became the Pearl Jam song "Footsteps."
"Acoustic #1" (1991 Demo)
Crowe: "Eddie and Stone [Gossard] trading ideas and rhythms, exploring their newly minted potential." The singer, in big-voiced "Yellow Ledbetter" mode, ad-libs his way through the guitarist's loosely grooving riffs.
"It Ain't Like That" (1990 Demo)
Crowe: "A heavy slice of rehearsal magic." Chugging guitars and some tongue-in-cheek bon mots from Eddie Vedder.
"Need To Know" (2007 Demo)
Crowe: "A self-made demo that [Matt] Cameron would later submit to the band." In this form, it sounds destined for the drummer's post-punk side band Wellwater Conspiracy. When Eddie Vedder and the rest of Pearl Jam worked with it, it became the poppy 2009 single "The Fixer."
"Be Like Wind" (2010, Score)
Film scoring is "another home for [McCready's] sometimes ferocious, sometimes delicate always truthful style," says Crowe.
"Given To Fly" (2010, Instrumental)
The 1997 "Yield" single, "was originally written during a snowstorm shortly after McCready battled back some blizzards of his own," Crowe writes, perhaps obliquely referring to the guitarist's mid-90s struggles with alcohol. The Zeppelin-like music is played here by McCready as a soaring instrumental.
"Nothing As It Seems" (1999 Demo)
"'Nothing As It Seems' will forever feel like a portrait of [Jeff Ament's] roots," says Crowe. Here the bassist's demo, complete with his own Pink-Floydesque vocals, shows the song's beginnings.
"Nothing As It Seems" (from Oct. 22, 2001 Seattle)
The song, writes Crowe, "here finds its home on the stage." With a particularly enflamed Mike McCready solo, Ament's song is performed to a hometown arena crowd.
"Indifference" (from Bologna, Italy Sept. 14, 2006)
The closing song of 1993's "Vs." performed live. Crowe: "A visual and sonic highlight from our film."
"Of The Girl"
A deep album cut from 2000's "Binaural," resurrected here as an atmospheric instrumental. "[We] often found ourselves just listening in the editing room, appreciating all the layers to the 3D sound," explained Crowe.
"Faithfull" (from Sept. 20, 2006 in Pistoia, Italy)
A soundcheck moment, "outdoors in the sun, a world away from Seattle," writes Crowe.
"Bu$hleaguer" (from April 30, 2003 in Uniondale, NY)
Crowe: "A portrait of PJ at their most political." To say the least. The Long Island performance of the song, from 2002's "Riot Act" elicited a chorus of boos as Vedder donned a George W. mask and sang about "the haves have not a f*ucking clue." It was a difference of opinion between band and crowd that Pearl Jam was actually proud to countenance.
"Better Man" (from May 21, 2010 New York)
Crowe: "A PJ show anywhere in the world will often take you to a place like the one captured in this recent recording from Madison Square Garden." Here, the arena is filled with 20,000 fans singing louder than Vedder to this crucial track from 1994's "Vitalogy." It's also a key moment in the film that illustrates just how moving current Pearl Jam shows can be.
"Rearviewmirror" (from Oct. 1, 2009 Universal City, CA)
"The 'Rearviewmirror' jam is one of the best examples of what happens when the band is at the wheel and the ride is often psychedelic in its intensity," writes Crowe. And this latter-day rock out of a 1993 "Vs." tune shows how the band is constantly reinventing its live presence.
- News