For Record Store Day Black Friday 2019, I got up bright and early to go stand in line for some Exclusive vinyls and most notably was for Matt Nathanson’s 2007 album ‘Some Mad Hope’. This was the first time that record was to be released on vinyl. Another exclusive I wanted was Pearl Jam’s MTV Unplugged appearance from 1992 finally being released on vinyl. And I’ll be honest, this is the FIRST Pearl Jam album I have actually bought on vinyl…I know, crazy right!! But what a way to start.
The album was recorded in 1992 right after the end of the Tour for their debut album ‘Ten’ and a set list that covers that album quite nicely, you are treated to one mesmerizing and very special performance. When I watched this back in the day, I realized than that the guys were pretty freaking great. I was not a Grunge fan at all as I come from the 80’s and the whole 80’s Rock scene. Grunge was blasphemy. But there was something about this show that resonated and when I saw it was coming out on vinyl, it was a no-brainer.
The packaging is a beautiful gatefold for only 1 LP which I always love to see.
You get a performance from a band that was on the rise, the flavor of the day, but yet a band that had something to prove. They attacked the performance with an energy that was more than contagious. The crowd was in to it, the band was in to and the TV audience was in to it. And 27 years later, I am still in to it!
The set list…
The album opens with the love song about Eddie’s surf board, “Oceans”. Eddie sounds almost a little nervous at first until he gets in to the song a little and then he settles right in sounds like a man on a mission. He gets the audience all riled up with excitement and then the band goes in to the biggest treat on here, “State of Love and Trust” which was not on the debut album, but a demo that was later released on a re-issue. Stone Gossard tore it up on the acoustic for this along with a rousing performance by Dave Abbruzzese on drums. And of course, Mike McCready slays with a solo that was the piece de resistance. Killer performance.
Not to be outdone, “Alive” is another track that highlights the musicianship of this band. Crank it up, sit back and savor every note played. Eddie’s vocals were haunting at times and even wistful at times. They were the perfect centerpiece capped off by some playing by the band that was both stripped down to its essence and yet full of flavor. Truly stellar. They ended side one with “Black” and a song that is perfect for the unplugged setting. In one of the nights most somber performances, it stands out as one of its finest. Vedder delivers a raw, honest performance that leaves you a little breathless. With my headphones on, I am soaking it all in.
Side two opens with the brutal “Jeremy” which was the first song that I liked by the band. They took a song that was so intense as a plugged in version and they lost none of that intensity when they pulled the plug. Still a very powerful song. Then they bring on “Even Flow” which seems to be a little funkier version with Abbruzzese’s drum beat and Jeff Ament’s bass. And I feel there is a blues tone to it as well with the guitars and Eddie’s vocal delivery. It is a very interesting mix.
Pearl Jam was one of only a few bands that survived and flourished after the Grunge era died out and sadly, Eddie is the only lead singer of the Big Four still with us today. This to me is one of the finest of the MTV Unplugged series and I am so glad I have it now on vinyl. I think it was well worth getting up at 6 in the morning to go stand in line (I didn’t get there until 7 so I wasn’t in line at 6, just up). I would rate this release a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars. This one will get played A LOT!!!