Pearl Jam – Sponsored By No One (Apocalypse Sound AS 137)

Supported by No One-1995 Tour Film (AS 137)

Main Feature: Corduroy, Tremor Christ, Whipping, I Got ID (Japan); Last Exit, Lukin (Taiwan); Not For You, Even Flow (Philippines); Nothingman Video Montage; Immortality Video Montage; Animal (Sydney); Corduroy (Perth); Blood, Go (Adelaide); Release (Melbourne); Blood, Happy Birthday Jeff [Ament] (Sydney); The Needle and the Damage Done – Featuring Flea (Sydney); Better Man (Adelaide); Let My Love Open the Door (Perth); Even Flow, Last Exit, Spin the Black Circle, Deep (Canberra); NW Speech (Melbourne); Porch (Melbourne/Brisbane); History Never Repeat – Featuring Split Enz, Throw Your Arms Around Me (Auckland); End Credits; I Got You – Featuring Split Enz (Auckland)

Bonus Features: VH1 Storytellers, Avalon, New York, NY, USA, May 31, 2006 (Air Date July 1, 2006): Better Man, World Wide Suicide, Gone, Alive, Here’s to the State of Mississippi, Life Wanted.  Saturday Night Live, New York, NY, USA, NBC Studios, April 15, 2006: World Wide Suicide, Severed Hand.

I personally forgot what an excellent, and thrilling, band Pearl Jam were back in the early 1990’s.  Their debut release, Ten, was a very welcomed entry into my music world around 1992, displaying a much-needed artist that parted ways with the electronic-driven music of the 1980’s that did not appeal to me as much.  Of course, it was also at this time in the early 1990’s that other acts such as Soundgarden and Nirvana were beginning to leave their indelible stamp on the music world, so times were good for a fan of this so-called “grunge” music.  I was fortunate enough to see Pearl Jam and Soundgarden at the 1992 Lollapalooza festival, which was remarkable, and which cemented my attraction to Pearl Jam’s music.

It was also around that time, however, that Pearl Jam began to push back against the music industry.  They refused to issue videos or singles from their second album, 1993’s Vs., and in the Spring, 1994 American tour, decided not to play the larger venues (such as where I saw them for Lollapalooza), choosing instead to play smaller places that included college campuses.  In direct objection to Ticketmaster’s pressure on promoters to charge higher ticket prices, against which Pearl Jam instituted ultimately unsuccessful legal proceedings for unfair business practices, Pearl Jam eventually canceled their 1994 summer tour because their ticket prices were not lower than 20 dollars.  It was during that time that Pearl Jam recorded a phenomenal new album, Vitalogy, but then fired their drummer, Dave Abbruzzese, and replaced him with former Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Jack Irons, a move that I did not like.  They also recorded an album with Neil Young in early 1995 that deviated from what they had been releasing to-date.  With all of that commotion, and dismissal of the drummer I believed was a perfect complement to their sound, I lost interest in and generally stopped following Pearl Jam.

Apocalypse Sound’s Sponsored By No One DVD has now reminded me of why I loved Pearl Jam back in the 1990’s, and sort of made me feel I should’ve hung in there a bit more with the band to see their live show instead of turning away.  Thankfully, virtually all of the footage on this dual layer DVD is pro shot, in excellent quality, and synched perfectly with pristine audio.  The tasteful packaging follows Apocalypse Sound’s standard three-section format, with two sides that flip open to reveal a clear tray containing the DVD.  All pictures of the artists are era-appropriate, crystal clear, and the outside of the thick paper case utilizes relevant marketing images from the time with the distinct orange background.  The 3 menu features of the disc are easy to follow, and use, which include not only the main selections, but also the excellent bonus footage.

As mentioned above, the filming is pro-shot, although a bit fuzzy at times either from degeneration of the source, or possibly the quality of the source itself.  It is hard to imagine such a comprehensive compilation being otherwise available for Pearl Jam fans, so this title is indispensable in that regard.  The performances themselves are all at an extremely high caliber, teetering on that wonderful edge of being out of control while in total control.  Footage from behind the band playing adds to the feeling as the wild mosh-pit in front of the stage shows the type of ubiquitous physicality present at these shows back then, which I remember well and fondly.  No songs on this title from the 1995 tour were performed in the USA.  Of particular enjoyment for me are “Tremor Christ” from Japan, which shows great close-ups of Eddie Vedder singing while making the facial gestures and eye movements that were (and are) so unique to his style. 

“Whipping” from that show is also ripping, really wild.  Flea performs a rather bizarre, yet respectful, version of Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” in Sydney, Australia, while Pearl Jam does a cover of Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door” from Perth.  A couple of songs are also performed with Split Enz in Auckland, although Apocalypse Sound elected to divide them with the disc’s end credits, which was a bit of an unusual touch.  It may have been intentional, though, as this title is a classy production from start to finish.  Speaking of which, the disc’s finish contains bonus footage from separate performances in New York around the Spring of 2006.  With Soundgarden’s former, and excellent, drummer Matt Cameron on the skins, I’ve been re-exposed to Pearl Jam by Apocalypse Sound and my interest in this band reignited in the process.  All in all, a wonderful title that will, I believe, appeal to not only Pearl Jam fans, but music fans in general.

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