The biggest treat of them all was a surprise cameo from Mark Arm of Mudhoney, who guests on a truly blistering, hardcore run through Dead Boys cover "Sonic Reducer." With a performance that raw and rough and with Arm, a legend from the Seattle music scene (who started out with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard in Seattle's now legendary early grunge/hard rock/punk band Green River in the mid-'80s), it's no wonder the concert has been so sought after over the years.
Still, what I don't understand is why, for $25 for the whole package, Epic just didn't include the whole, two-hour show on two discs, as Vs.-era cuts like "Go," "Animal," Vitalogy tunes like "Better Man" and other essentials like "State of Love And Trust" were left off, as was the real show closer, a cover of The Beatles' rocker "I've Got A Feeling."
These albums sounded terrific to begin with (thanks to producer Brendan O'Brien), so they didn't need a whole lot of remastering. That said, there does seem to be a more even balance in sound when it comes to hearing multiple layers of guitar parts (as in "Daughter"), and the drums seem to be a bit richer all around. And Jeff Ament's bass sound in "Go" has so much loud action to it that it resembles a mac truck coming through your stereo system.
The Bottom Line:
Vs. and Vitalogy, like Ten before them, are landmark Pearl Jam albums essential for any fan. The band has pretty much emptied the vaults on those eras, so what bonus tracks were included only slightly enhance the releases but are otherwise not that essential (unless you are the type that needs to have all PJ demos and outtakes). My only true disappointment is in the bonus disc, and that isn't based on what was included but what was excluded (one-third of the 24-song Boston set). That said, I still highly recommend this release, but only to Pearl Jam fans who don't already have these albums on CD (as opposed to vinyl and cassette), in which case this new release is indeed a worthy upgrade.