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December 2003

H.E.A.R. Honors Peal Jam

Named for Eddie Vedder's great grandmother Pearl's famous homemade jam (which was said to be hallucinogenic), Pearl Jam set a foundation in music that would become known simply as Grunge. That band took shape after Mother Love Bone lead singer Andrew Wood died and guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament recruited Mike McCready (lead guitar), Dave Krusen (drums) and Eddie Vedder (vocals) to form Pearl Jam.

Based in Seattle, Pearl Jam led the pack along with Nirvana and Soundgarden in the race to bring alternative music to the forefront of America's youth culture. Releasing Ten in 1991, Pearl Jam combined '70s-stadium style rock with angry lyrics and heavy riffs. In no time, Ten shot up the charts and sold hundred of thousands of albums worldwide.

Pearl Jam, however, was not one to sell out and consider themselves mainstream. With their hits "Alive," "Evenflow" and "Black," Vedder and the gang painted dark pictures of depression, suicide and a bleak world in general. They became the voice of a new, angry generation of teenagers known as Generation X. Furthering their anti-mainstream, anti-sellout stance, the group refused to produce any videos for songs from their second release, Vs., which came out in 1993. This new album featured a new drummer, Dave Abbruzzese, who was added after Krusen decided to leave the band. In an era when record sales seem to be guided by radio and video airplay, Vs. easily managed to reach multiplatinum status like its predecessor, Ten.

A spring 1994 tour followed the release of Vs., but Pearl Jam canceled their summer tour when they entered into a heated battle with the giant ticket agency, Ticketmaster. During this time, the band re-entered the studio, replaced Abbruzzese with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, and released their third album, Vitalogy. Vitalogy, which was intially released only on vinyl, quickly climbed to the top of the charts and was registered multiplatinum.

In early 1995, the Justice Department sided with Ticketmaster, ending the two-year battle between Pearl Jam and the company. The band then teamed up with Neil Young on a hugely successful tour of Europe. Working so well together, Pearl Jam and Young entered the studio and recorded Young's 1995 release, Mirror Ball.

Laying somewhat low and staying out of the proverbial spotlight, Pearl Jam again went back into the studio to record their summer 1996 release, No Code. Pearl Jam's fifth studio album, Yield, was released in February 1998. The band launched a world tour in support of the album that kicked off in Australia in January. In the fall of 1998, Pearl Jam released the live album, Live on Two Legs.

Binaural, was released in May 2000. Live albums released in 2000 EuroBoots2000, NorthAmBoots1, NorthAmBoots2 and TouringBand2000.Riot Act released in 2001. Live at the Garden released 2- disc DVD of the July 8, 2003 concert performance at Madison Square Garden. Lost Dogs Rarities/B-sides Double Album - This 2-disc album features 31 tracks compiled from Pearl Jam's extensive b-side archives and from various benefit albums and soundtracks. None of the included tracks have been previously featured on any of the band's studio albums.

The official bootleg series the band instituted three years ago in an effort to beat the bootleggers at their own game prvides for a fraction of what you'd pay for a boot or even a major label release -- only $12.98 to members of the group's "10 Club," $14.98 otherwise -- fans can order a well-recorded double disc set of the show they just saw (or any other show of their choosing) from the band's Web site, www.pearljam.com. They immediately get an link to MP3 version, and a fully mastered CD within a week or so. "It's worked out really well," the guitarist enthuses. "At first our record company thought we were out of our minds. But when they realized they could make money off the manufacturing, suddenly they were all for it. And it makes sense for a band like ours. We're always messing with the set list, adding stuff spontaneously, making it different every night. If I could have done this with my favorite bands growing up, I'd have been in heaven. With current technology, it's not really a radical idea at all." Pearl Jam may soon be in the market for a more radical idea regarding record distribution. The band's current album, "Riot Act," is the last under its contract with Sony Music subsidiary Epic Records. There has been speculation that it will not sign with another major label, but may opt for an independent company or perhaps even create its own imprint. Industry observers are closely monitoring the progress of the new Eagles single, "Hole in the World," released via the group's Eagles Recording Company II, as a test of how much an act can accomplish without the benefit of major label muscle. Pearl Jam is known for raging against the music industry machine with endeavors like taking antitrust action against Ticketmaster in 1994 and releasing scores of live albums from each of its last two tours.


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