Volume 92, Issue 48
Friday, November 27, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Pearl Jam still standing
Live on Two Legs
Another stocking stuffer has arrived. To coincide with what is expected to be one of the most lucrative holiday seasons for the music industry in recent memory, the market has become saturated with a staggering number of new releases.
Now Pearl Jam have thrown their hats into the ring with the release of Live on Two Legs. After an admirable battle with the corporate bandits known as Ticketmaster, Pearl Jam finally succumbed to the company's undeniable power and toured North America last summer. It was the band's first proper tour in many years and from the sound of their new record, things have never been better.
While Pearl Jam have proven to be an incredibly difficult band to stick with over the years few live shows, no videos they are the only major "grunge" band to have survived the early '90s phenomenon.
By distancing themselves from the intense cultural scrutiny which surrounded the Seattle movement, Pearl Jam have been able to approach music on their own terms. As a result, in 1998 they appear to be a band which is finally comfortable in their own skin.
While the song "Corduroy" is a blistering album opener, one can't help but see the irony in lyrics such as "I would rather starve, then eat your bread." An ode to their Ticketmaster feuds, perhaps?
Otherwise, the album is simply packed with some of the band's strongest material from their career. Eddie Vedder's soaring vocals help carry some of the stronger new numbers such as "Given to Fly" while the band breathes new energy into older staples like "Better Man" and "Even Flow." Raging tracks like "Do the Evolution" and "Go" brew with a kind of intensity which few artists can replicate.
Nonetheless, some songs do suffer from a lack of ingenuity. While the band clearly owes a debt to Neil Young and Crazy Horse for helping inspire their sound, Mr. Young is a little too prevalent on this record. When they're not ripping him off on songs like "Off He Goes," they're adding lyrical snippets of "Rockin' in the Free World" to their tunes. The addition of the Young original, "Fuckin' Up" which closes the record, is nothing short of shameful.
Still, it is at least evident Pearl Jam is having a lot more fun with their music and with themselves on Live on Two Legs. It's a live album which actually manages to partially capture the spark of their live performances. By maintaining a consistent vision, Pearl Jam have managed to not only weather the storm, but stay dry doing it.
Most bands, although they hate to admit it, begin their career as a cover band.
Metallica followed such a path and takes great pride in their days of old by simply referring to them as their "garage days." In their new double length CD titled Garage Inc., Metallica takes a stroll down memory lane and relives the glory of their early years.
On the first disc, Metallica releases brand new cover tunes, for one reason or another, they find worthy of a re-working. Whether it's the riffs, as in "Mercyful Fate," the lyrics, as in Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" or inspiration, like Diamond Head's "It's Electric," Metallica chooses a wide range of musical influences which are successful.
Although fans may not be familiar with the songs, Metallica brings them alive by adding a certain kind of heaviness which only they are capable of providing.
It is clear from the first track, "Free Speech For The Dumb by Discharge," Metallica's intentions for the album are strictly playful. In an awesome rendition of Lynard Skynard's "Tuesday's Gone," Metallica assembles an all-star cast, including Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney of Alice In Chains, John Popper of Blues Traveler, Pepper Keenan of C.O.C. and Les Claypool of Primus. Also included on the first disc are songs by Black Sabbath, The Misfits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Blue Oyster Cult and Thin Lizzy.
The second disc contains previously released, but impossible to find cover tunes. Included is the entire 1987 EP Garage Days Re-Revisited, B-sides, one-offs and four songs. This disc, along with the liner notes, provide a nostalgic look at Metallica's older days.
Garage Inc. provides a powerful look back at inspirational music from new wave British heavy metal to punk rock, while providing insight into Metallica's history.
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