Lost Dogs: Rarities And B-Sides

Pearl Jam

Epic, 2003


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


It's about time.

Pearl Jam went back through its archives and found about 75% of its B-sides, rare songs, fan club music and soundtrack material and decided to put it onto one release. Far from being a hodgepodge, this is a necessary release for all fans, thanks to 11 unreleased songs and many others only available on hard-to-find releases. In addition, the music rounds out the Pearl Jam story.


The songs are mixed together from all eras; detailed liner notes talk about each tune and what album sessions it was from. Fans should note that the two Merkinball EP songs are missing, as are the two from the Singles soundtrack, but chances are this is because those were already released. This stuff has never really seen the light of day. What we have are tracks left from each album session, 11 unreleased songs and the best B-sides. 

Of these, the ones recorded around the Ten sessions are the best. "Wash," "Dirty Frank," "Alone," "Yellow Ledbetter" and "Footsteps" have the same hazy classic rock sound as their debut album and are just as good as the lesser tracks from that album ("Dirty Frank" isn't great, but it's at least funny." Of particular note here is "Brother," a smoking instrumental that proves Mike McCready is a better lead guitarist than perhaps history has given him credit for (a version with vocals would pop up later on radio; this is the superior instrumental mix).

Songs like "Down," a cover of "Leaving Here," "Black, Red, Yellow" and "Other Side" capture the spirit of the band better than most of No Code. The best of the music has a sense of humor, wonderful musicianship and the emotion associated with Pearl Jam. Why many of these songs never made it to a record - especially considering some of the clunkers that did - is a mystery. Lost Dogs is just great rock and roll, plain and simple.

If you listen after the closing "Bee Girl" at the end of the second disc, you will discover a hidden tribute to former Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley. Vedder doesn't mention the man but castigates those modern rock hacks who copy his style. It's a fine song without a title, just like the majority of Lost Dogs are fine songs without a home...until now. 

Rating: B+

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