March 1998

Pearl Jam - Yield
Epic/Sony EK 68164
Released: 1998

by Jay Piriz

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

[Reviewed on CD]Yield is Pearl Jam’s fifth commercial effort. It is not easy to deliver the goods over and over again while ensuring that new work is every bit as good, or better, than the last. I will state from the outset that Yield is not one of PJ’s better efforts. There are only a few songs on this CD that I would rate in the same category of musical creativity and breakthrough innovation as such PJ classics as "Jeremy," "Even Flow," and "Alive." PJ has always been one of those bands that because of its sheer creativity and cutting-edge style has defined the sound of "what is cool." One can hear the unmistakable PJ influence in the chartbusting tunes of many of today’s one- and two-hit-song wonderbands.

Eddie Vedder and the boys still perform in world-class fashion. There are few bands out there of this musical genre that are as talented and musically gifted as PJ. Vedder’s raspy, emotional, angry and effective vocal musings continue defining the character of PJ’s sound on this CD. Mike McCready’s lead guitar is as on-the-edge creative as it was back in 1991 on PJ’s debut, Ten. There are tracks on this CD that come across as, well, filler. Track 8 for example, is titled by a red dot—not the words "Red Dot," just a red dot. Visions of the artist formerly known as...dare I say? The music is an unusual blend of steel drums, bells and other percussion instruments with a repetitive chant: "we’re all crazy, we’re all crazy at war." A political statement? Maybe not. The last track, "All Those Yesterdays," one of the great tunes on this CD, appears to be over at 3:58. But then at 5:04, after over a minute of silence, returns with unrelated middle-eastern-sounding instrumental/hand-clapping music that lasts for over two minutes.

The character of the recording on this CD appears to be driven more toward music that sounds good on the radio versus music that sounds good on a high-quality home audio system. The entire PJ catalog would benefit from a nice gold-edition series with improved resolution, clarity, detail and dynamics. Yield does have some tracks done in the great PJ standard. "No Way," "Wishlist," and "Pilate" are creatively involving and musically appealing.

Yield, is not PJ’s best work. For a PJ fan, however, it may be worthwhile.