You might think that releasing nearly 75 albums in the span of six months would be enough for Pearl Jam.
You'd be wrong.
You might think that after flooding fans' senses with double live albums from last year's European and American tours, as well as prepping an upcoming live DVD, the Seattle rockers would be concerned about saturating the market.
Although they aren't expected to start recording a new studio album until next spring, singer Eddie Vedder and company might release a new collection before this year is out. An "odds 'n' sods" compilation of rare and unreleased songs is being put together, with a tentative Christmas release date, according to manager Kelly Curtis.
Among the songs expected to appear on the rarities compilation are B-sides, soundtrack and benefit album tracks, as well as selections from the group's annual fan club Christmas singles.
"I don't think we even realized how much the band had recorded for things that didn't end up on albums," Curtis said. More than 60 tracks have been corralled so far, with early front-runners ranging from a definitive studio version of the live staple and fan favorite "Yellow Ledbetter" to an alternate take of the band's breakthrough single, "Jeremy," that guitarist Stone Gossard "swears is out there somewhere."
There's definitely stuff I forgot about," Curtis said of such obscure B-side covers as the band's take on the Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling." Other songs under consideration are tracks that were left off last year's Binaural studio album, the band's cover of the Silly Surfers' "Gremmie out of Control," from the 1996 Music for Our Mother Ocean benefit album, and their take on Victoria Williams' "Crazy Mary."
"Knowing them, they'll pick all the most obscure ones nobody wants," Curtis joked.
But with the first set of 25 live albums selling more than a million copies and setting a Billboard 200 record for five debuts from the same band in the same week, the band has proven that the old rules don't apply, Curtis said.
Another 23 live double albums, representing the first leg of the group's 2000 North American tour, hit store shelves this week. A second assortment of 24 is available on the band's official Web site; that set is scheduled to be in stores March 27. The series' only three-disc package will encompass the final date on the U.S. tour a November 6 performance in Pearl Jam's hometown, Seattle.
After the tide of live albums has ebbed, the group will give fans a few weeks of breathing room before releasing its first DVD, Pearl Jam: Touring Band 2000 (April 10). In addition to almost three hours of live concert footage two hours from the U.S. tour and another 50 minutes of European film the DVD will feature such bonuses as backstage footage and previously unreleased songs.
More importantly, for a band that has only made one video since 1992, the DVD will feature the previously unreleased clip for the song "Oceans" from the band's 1991 debut, Ten. Released only in Europe and directed by Josh Taft ("Evenflow," "Alive") the moody, black and white clip was the last music video to date to feature the band. Curtis described the video as a montage of random people's faces, mixed with footage of the band rehearsing in Hawaii in 1992.
Live versions of three unreleased instrumentals recorded during sessions for Binaural "Thunderclap," "Foldback" and "Harmony" also will be included on the DVD, as well as the animated video for "Do the Evolution," directed by "Spawn" creator Todd McFarlane. The release, which will also be available on VHS, will be offered to fans a week early on the band's Web site (www.pearljam.com).
Even during their hiatus, the group's members are staying busy: Vedder is gearing up to play some shows in New Zealand in April with old friend and former Crowded House leader Neil Finn.
Guitarist Mike McCready is working with Heart's Nancy Wilson to score the upcoming film from "Almost Famous" director Cameron Crowe, "Vanilla Sky," which stars Tom Cruise.
Drummer Matt Cameron's long-running garage-rock side project, the Wellwater Conspiracy, is slated to release its third album later this year. Gossard has finished an album with singer/songwriter Pete Droge under the name Bay Leaf. The project also features Green Apple Quick Step singer Tyler Willman and drummer Matt Chamberlin (Fiona Apple, Macy Gray).
Bassist Jeff Ament is recording songs in his Montana home studio with Richard Stuverud, percussionist in his world music combo Three Fish.