CD Review: Pearl Jam's Ten [Deluxe] reissue

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Concerning O'Brien's remix: As far as I'm concerned, there's no reason to listen to the original version ever again. The new mix has punchier drums, more sonic detail and overall packs a bigger wallop.

Concerning the rarities: Nothing much to get excited about. The six tracks show a band struggling to find an identity — so in that regard they're interesting — but only "Brother" can be considered a marginally worthy addition to the PJ canon.

The MTV Unplugged set, 36 minutes in 5.1 Surround, is fabulous, an intimate coming out for Eddie Vedder, the defining rock vocal talent of the ensuing decade-plus.

Pearl Jam

Ten [Deluxe Edition]

Over 18 years and eight studio albums, Pearl Jam has proven itself to be far and away the most durable band to come from the original grunge movement. (Also the best, I would argue.) Nirvana trumps them on mystique and cultural impact, mostly because Kurt Cobain blew his brains out, but Pearl Jam had the courage to experiment, to risk failure, to grow up and shed the voice-of-a-generation pressure, to persevere.

And now for the just desserts: A sprawling reissue program that leads up to their 20th anniversary in 2011, kicked off by an expanded re-release of the band's mega-hit debut.

Ten [Deluxe Edition] includes the original album, plus another CD showcasing a remix by producer Brendan O'Brien that additionally includes previously unissued bonus tracks. Also part of the package is a DVD of PJ's 1992 set on MTV Unplugged.

Pearl Jam has made plenty of terrific recorded music during its tenure, but no cluster is as perfect as the first six songs of their debut album, a visceral, revelatory sequence: "Once," "Even Flow," "Alive," "Why Go," "Black" and "Jeremy." If Nirvana's Nevermind told us that hair-band rock was on its last legs, the first half of Ten threw dirt on its grave. The album's ensuing tracks are solid, but to these ears they represent a noticeable drop-off in songcraft.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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