Rearview Mirror:Greatest Hits - Pearl Jam Album Review
Photo:Danny Clinch link
Pearl Jam is a band that could, and should, have achieved greatness. For some reason they haven't reached the essential level. There may be mitigating reasons for that ; line - up and artistic direction changes. When you look into their Rearviewmirror; you can look back on a career road spanning 14 years, from macho Grunge rockers to mature rock exponents. Angst - ridden music, e.g. Punk had a short shelf life, and maybe they were victims of that as well. Starting in the early 90's Seattle Grunge scene, and heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin, they evolved into a highly respected band - but at some cost. This two disc set gives an insight into the long and twisting road that sees them take risks, from mind blowing chords, like tracks 7 Go, and 10, Spin The Black Wheel, with speedy picks and gravel neck vocals, to sophisticated sojourns on Dissident, with some sublime Bluesy guitar work. Early signs of change can also be found on Corduroy, with a more accessible angle. Albums such as Ten and Vs sold well, but when they delivered 1994's Vitalogy, they'd stripped down the sound for a more Punky effect. With a string of cancelled tours and no MTV videos, fans began to lose interest. Their albums peaked and bombed just as quickly, but ironically remained a huge touring attraction.
Disc 2 is considered introspective. It's arguably their best work. It shows the band coming of age, but losing ground in terms of popularity.
Unlike their 'room mates 'Nirvana, they never had the big hit like Smells Like Teen Spirit, preferring to gamble with experimentation, and progression. The quality actually improves in the process, as you listen to this disc. Track 11, Wishlist, is a prime example. By the end, they're barely recognisable as the band that started out - and that's no bad thing.
Overall, their singles sales have never matched their albums success. Of the 33 track here, only 15 have entered the charts - with their highest entry Spin The Black Circle exactly ten years ago. Greatest Hits? Should have been a best of.