Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

Rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003)


I always have been a big fan of Pearl Jam. I grew up with grunge. “Alive” and “Even Flow” were anthems for me. After Ten, however, I lost track of them. After listening to Rearviewmirror, I finally realized what I’ve been missing. I was hoping every album after Ten would be another Ten, an album of non-stop aggression. What I didn’t realize is that Pearl Jam was evolving and I wasn’t. Their sound became more diverse and poetic, while I was stuck in 1991 trying to feel, pardon the pun, alive.

Rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003) is a two-disc onslaught of Pearl Jam’s best hits (shock!), and they don’t miss on one. Thirty-three tracks from every one of their studio albums show their evolution from “Jeremy” to “Daughter” to “Betterman” to “Do the Evolution” to “Last Kiss.” “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” “Betterman” and Yellow Ledbetter” are lyrically and musically better than almost anything else on this retrospective.

I’ve listened to Rearviewmirror at least a dozen times, and each time I see the evolution of the band and how it coordinates with my own evolution. I was eleven when Ten came out and now I am 25. Each song has a little memory to it. Now I don’t expect that everybody that listens to this album will feel the same way. Diehard fans will gripe about how this song or that song was left off. But there are two things that Pearl Jam did perfectly when they compiled this collection: 1. They separated the songs so that disc one is more aggressive and disc two is more melancholy; and 2. They only took songs from their studio albums. Can you imagine how large this collection would have been had they tried to add songs from their 70+ live albums? It’d be a 37 disc box set with 47 versions of “Given to Fly.”

Pearl Jam fans who already have all of the band’s albums probably don’t have any need for this collection. There are three new remixes by Brendan O’Brien, but they don’t sound much different from the originals. Anyone who doesn’t own all of Pearl Jam’s studio albums needs this collection. If for nothing else, to realize just how important this band is on the musical landscape.

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