I received my copy of Pearl Jam’s “Live On Ten Legs” in the mail yesterday. I immediately ripped it open, spun that black circle, and sat back for a gratifying listen. Yet, despite my excitement and overeagerness, a question looms: For a band that has released almost every single concert of theirs as a bootleg in the last 11 years, what’s the point of a live album? Why would PJ fans go out and buy this album, when there are clearly more exciting concerts for purchase?
I imagine each fan has a different answer to this question. Some are collectors. Some can’t bear to see something for sale in the store at PJ’s site and not purchase it. Some may be audiophiles, who want their live albums as perfect as possible.
As for me, I originally bought this as a chance to own a copy of a live Pearl Jam album on vinyl. While the band does in fact release every bootleg, often with many options (mp3, FLAC, CD), they have no released any of them on vinyl. And I have all of my Dad’s old live records: Skynyrds “One More From The Road.” CSNY’s “Four Way Street.” The Grateful Dead’s “Europe ’72.” But nothing from my generation. No record that shows off the grit, intensity, and all-around greatness of Pearl Jam as a live band. This record has that.
While the setlist leaves what to be desired – I would’ve rather included more of their best live songs (Blood, Whipping, Deep) – the band did do a great job in song selection. Not only are these tracks all different from the “Live On Two Legs” songs, but they are also perfectly performed. The band chose versions of songs where every note was hit with perfection, every cymbal smashed at the exact right moment, every McCready solo perfectly performed, and every Eddie-ism wailed in exact form. This is not a greatest-hits live record. It’s a live record that shows off exactly what this band does best – playing live.
So for the occasional listener, check it out as a gateway drug to the magic of live Pearl Jam. And for the avid-collector, pay attention to the audio quality and perfection of the performances; if you’re truly the super-fan you claim to be, you’ll recognize this album as a step above.
Pearl Jam – Arms Aloft
1. Arms Aloft – Werchter, Belgium, July 4 2010
2. World Wide Suicide – Prague, Czech Republic, September 22 2006
3. Animal – Bern, Switzerland, September 13 2006
4. Got Some – San Diego, CA, USA, October 9 2009
5. State of Love and Trust – London, England, June 25 2010
6. I Am Mine – Brisbane, Australia, November 10 2006
7. Unthought Known – Berlin, Germany, June 30 2010
8. Rearview Mirror – Perth, Australia, November 25 2006
9. The Fixer – Boston, MA, USA, May 17 2010
10. Nothing As It Seems – Adelaide, Australia, November 22 2006
11. In Hiding – San Francisco, CA, USA, July 18 2006
12. Just Breathe – MSG 2 2010
13. Jeremy – London, Canada, September 12 2005
14. Public Image – Venice, Italy, July 6 2010
15. Spin the Black Circle – Hamilton, Canada, September 13 2005
16. Porch – Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 26 2005
17. Alive – philly 4 2009
18. Yellow Ledbetter – Berlin, Germany, June 30 2010