Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pearl Jam: Ten Redux

When I first learned that Pearl Jam decided to remaster, re-box, and re-release their multiplatinum, debut album, Ten, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

If money were not an issue, I would have opted for the mega-packed, limited edition, super deluxe version that included the original Ten remastered, the new Ten, remixed by Brendan O’Brien and containing bonus material of B-sides and unreleased material, the never before released MTV Unplugged DVD, a 2-DVD live concert, and a reproduction of the demo cassette that Eddie Vedder sent Pearl Jam in order to get the gig. All that and a replica journal from the early days of the band complete with gig locations and setlists. However, I have a mortgage to pay now and couldn’t justify the $100 price tag.

So, I happily settled on the $12 2-disc version and was glad that I did.

Ten remastered, sounds just as good as the original, but with a few tweaks and bleeps. Nothing major was done here, just a cleanup of the audio from the original master tapes.

The jewel of this 2-dsc set, however, is the Brendan O’Brien remix version of Ten. Not only do you get bonus material in the form of B-sides like Just a Girl, there are also early versions of State of Love and Trust, and Breath. Both sound excellent and I’m happy that they were contained on this disc. Brother, this version with vocals, unlike the instrumental version released on Lost Dogs, is a stellar, rocking track in the vein of early Pearl Jam and an excellent inclusion.

As for the remixed disc itself, all I can say is WOW! Brendan O’Brien did a phenomenal job with this production. When I first heard the three tracks he remixed on Rearview Mirror (the greatest hits album), I thought, eh, no big deal. They sound a little cleaner, but there’s not much difference.

This time around, O’Brien went all out and stole the show. The highlight is the remixed Porch which sounds exponentially better than the original. The bass line was brought up into the mix and more pronounced, guitar solos left off the original have been added back in, and Vedder’s vocals are more crisp and clear. It really is an eardrum’s heaven.

In Even Flow, you can actually hear what Eddie speaks during the long buildup solo. In the original version, there was a mumble of something, but now, we’ve confirmed that he was actually talking. Alive never sounded better, and while not much was done to change it, it’s the little nuances and attention to detail that O’Brien mixed in that makes it all stand out.

If you got a few bucks to spare, I highly recommend this disc. Even if you have Ten and you’ve played it ad nausea for the last 18 years, you will want to hear this new version. It is a dream come true for Pearl Jam fans.

Ryo’s Rating: 9 (out of 10).

No comments: