At first considered the pariahs of Seattle’s grunge scene because songs like “Alive,” “Even Flow” and “Jeremy,” though dark and often disturbing, sounded great in arenas and helped sell millions of albums, Pearl Jam proved to be the standard-bearers for a genre formed as a reaction to rock-star excess and rooted in the ideal of not selling out. Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard and Mike McCready earned respect by refusing to make videos for years, by capping ticket prices and by eventually boycotting Ticketmaster and taking the behemoth agency to court (nearly killing the band’s career in the process). Fiercely political, they’ve also supported too many causes to list (Vote for Change, reproductive choice and Habitat for Humanity, to name a few), covered songs by their heroes and paid proper homage when they could, recording, for instance, with “Godfather of Grunge” Neil Young. Preferring to give fans high-quality versions of their performances rather than letting sub-par bootlegs suffice, they released copies of every concert from their Binaural tour — 72 in all, and still offer recordings of concerts deemed worthy. Back with longtime producer Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam is recording its ninth studio album. In March, it released a commemorative edition of its debut album, Ten, marking the first in a series of re-releases in advance of the band’s 20th anniversary in 2011. Among their more notable side projects was Vedder’s first solo album, the soundtrack for director Sean Penn’s 2007 film, Into the Wild.
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