Pearl Jam's "Live on Ten Legs" Album Review

Does the live album live up to the hype? Read on.

On January 17, Pearl Jam will kick off their twentieth anniversary with the release of Live on Ten Legs, a compilation of live tracks from their 2003 to 2010 world tours. The album is a follow-up to Live on Two Legs, which consisted of songs recorded during their 1998 North American tour. Live on Ten Legs has been remastered and remixed by long time Pearl Jam engineer, Brett Eliason.

Oddly enough, the album starts with Arms Aloft, a cover of a Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros single. While it seems to have been a strange choice to start the album with a cover, Pearl Jam launches into the song with an energy that pulls you in right away, and propels into World Wide Suicide, from their self-titled album.

Animal, from album Vs., takes on a new life here; it’s faster, it’s harder, and it’s in your face. Although the song was first released in 1994, the original tone is still being delivered today.

Unthought Known, from album Backspacer, is a burst of inspiration close to the middle of the album. Passionately, Eddie Vedder sings, “Feel the sky blanket you/With gems and rhinestones/See the path cut by the moon/For you to walk on,” the words ringing out and resonating long after the song is over.

Rearviewmirror, from Vs., is given the attention it deserves; this version is much longer than the original. Eddie Vedder, Mike McCrady, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron rock out during the solo, and we are afforded the opportunity to listen to 20 years of musicianship at its best.

Got Some and The Fixer, from Backspacer, do not vary a great deal from the studio album, but this is likely the result of being new to the repertoire. While Just Breathe is not leaps and bounds different from the original, it provides a much needed, beautifully executed pause from the quickened pace of the preceding songs.

This review would not be complete without discussing Jeremy and Alive, from the album, Ten. While some may argue that these are the most overplayed of Pearl Jam’s songs, it is impossible to ignore the energetic audience response from the first notes played. Overplayed or not, they are great songs, plain and simple.

Live on Ten Legs merges the well-produced sound of a studio album while maintaining the feel of a live show. While I expected more tracks from diamond-certified Ten, the album contained a good mix of old and new, covering the majority of their albums. You won’t find all of their top singles on this album; the omission of some of their more popular tracks – Daughter, for example – leads me to believe that the album was made with Pearl Jam's dedicated fans in mind, the ones who look past the radio for musical nourishment.

Pearl Jam continues to remind fans why they’re still around and remain relevant. Live on Ten Legs is heavier, it’s faster, and it boasts the expertise of polished musicians.

My main critique is that to a certain extent, the album doesn’t have enough of a live feel. The magic and intimacy that comes with crowd interaction is too few and far between at times, but perhaps that’s the trick, making you crave the intensity of a full Pearl Jam live experience. Well played, Pearl Jam.

Full tracklisting:

1. Arms Aloft
2. World Wide Suicide
3. Animal
4. Got Some
5. State of Love And Trust
6. I Am Mine
7. Unthought Known
8. Rearview Mirror
9. The Fixer
10. Nothing As It Seems
11. In Hiding
12. Just Breathe
13. Jeremy
14. Public Image
15. Spin the Black Circle
16. Porch
17. Alive
18. Yellow Ledbetter

UpVenue favorites include Animal, I Am Mine, Unthought Known, and Just Breathe.

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