Pearl Jam: Live on Ten Legs

RIYL: Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron and Boom Gaspar

For a band that makes most of its live material available to fans, Pearl Jam releasing a live compilation hardly qualifies as news. In fact, judging by the reaction of some message boarders, Live on Ten Legs qualifies as everything from a giant snoozefest to an 18-track rip off. “Why would I buy this,” asked one poster, “when I already own all the bootlegs?” Well – surprise – most PJ fans, from the casual to the diehard, don’t already own all the bootlegs, in which case Live on Ten Legs, a collection of tracks culled from the band’s 2003-2010 world tours, serves its intended purpose as a companion to 1998’s platinum live release, Live on Two Legs, and a fun way to kick off the band’s 20th anniversary year.

While it seems silly to complain about the album as a whole – if you don’t want it, don’t buy it – it is fair to question the 18-song lineup, newly remastered and remixed by longtime Pearl Jam engineer Brett Eliason. Five songs from the band’s epic debut, Ten, and another four from its most recent release, Backspacer, dominate the proceedings, with 1993’s Vs. being the only other album to contribute more than one song and 1996’s No Code getting completely shut out. Granted, PJ was careful to avoid any overlap from the Live on Two Legs track listing, but it still seems strange to have only five songs representing six of the band’s nine studio albums. Fortunately, the material that did make the cut is top-notch, with Pearl Jam once again demonstrating why they’ve long been considered one of the best live bands around, particularly with the killer quartet of “Spin the Black Circle,” “Porch,” “Alive” and “Yellow Ledbetter” to close the album out.

After 20 years, Pearl Jam knows all too well that you can’t please all the fans all the time. With Live on Ten Legs, the band gives everyone else a taste of what the bootleg junkies have been gobbling up for the past eight years. (Monkeywrench Records 2011)

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