DVD: Pearl Jam: Under Review
Pearl Jam: Under Review is an unauthorized documentary detailing the band’s rise to power during the dominance of the Seattle Grunge scene. Stemming from the ashes of their previous musical groups, such as Green River and Mother Love Bone, the newly-formed Pearl Jam found their missing element in California-based surfer/singer, Eddie Vedder. Together, they put out a little album called Ten, and now, it is very unlikely that even those who live under rocks have not heard of this incredibly successful rock quintet.
This documentary starts at the roots of the band’s formation as well as the Seattle Sound of which they were a big part. With a more straightforward, rock approach, Pearl Jam differed greatly from the darker, heavier style of groups like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. Although they also didn’t display the punk energy of Nirvana, Pearl Jam managed to carve out a niche for themselves and not only form strong bonds with these other local bands, but build an outrageously loyal fanbase that continues to grow to this day, all while selling millions of records.
As this is an unauthorized documentary, there are not any new interviews or exclusive footage of the band members, since everything is second-hand. The only new interviews are from individuals who have either worked with the band or were involved, to an extent, with the music scene in which Pearl Jam resided.
The documentary focuses mainly on the creation of their debut album Ten for the first hour, with a shorter spotlight later on their follow-up efforts, Vs. and Vitalogy. The last half hour more or less crams all their later releases together, mentioning the latest three only in passing. This gave me the feeling that the documentary should have focused solely on Ten, and nothing else.
For the typical Pearl Jam fan there isn’t anything new on this DVD worth checking out. The group’s music can’t even be heard initially in this release and instead is substituted with a bizarro instrumental version of their hit song “Even Flow,” that sounds more like Simple Minds’ ’80s gem, “Don’t You (Forget About Me.)” This release is only worth checking out if you’re interested in an abridged version of how Pearl Jam came to be and nothing more.