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Issue: January 1995

and now the better Pearl Jam release

Dissident (Parts 1,2 & 3) (Epic)

The best Pearl Jam release of 1994 wasn't Vitalogy. It was this terrific three-part series of EPs, which between them include 107 minutes of previously unreleased live performances from the band's show April 3, 1994 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

Dissident —which also includes the studio version of the title track — perfectly captures the raw energy and loose creativity of the band' s live performances. The three discs are available separately. You can keep the first disc in a "digipack," which will hold all three volumes.

Selecting highlights is difficult, since virtually every track is a highlight. Material from the band's debut album, Ten, sounds especially good here, out from under the glossy sheen producer Brendan O'Brien gave that record.

"Jeremy" and "Alive," "Black" and, particularly,"Deep" come across much more powerfully here than on Ten. Cuts originally released on the band's sophomore effort, Vs., sound good, too, but are closer to the studio mixes than the Ten material. The version of "Daughter" included here is the lone exception — it medleys into a chorus of "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2."

About the only thing wrong with this collection is that, a few bars of Pink Floyd notwithstanding, it includes none of the covers the band played on its last tour. Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" was a staple and Pearl Jam also worked in numbers by The Who and Tom Petty, among others, on occasion. Also, there's no new material included, even though the band tried out cuts from Vitalogy at several gigs.

But it's hard to get too worked up about those omissions; what did make it into this collection is very impressive.

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