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Pearl Jam: Single Video Theory
cast: Jeff Amant, Stone Gossard, Jack Irons, Mike McCready, and Eddie Vedder

director: Mark Pellington

45 minutes (E) 1998
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
You cannot fault the content of this video, only the shortage of it on this DVD issue of the documented rehearsal sessions that in some way could be put forward as a readying for the American tour to coincide with the release of the 1998 Yield album. There is something unscrupulous about the chucking out of this title without a clearly displayed running time or any clues as to there being additional content to that of the video release four years earlier, clearly nothing that Pearl Jam can be accused of being complicit to, a group that appreciates, and will do what it can, for its fanbase. Like a quintet of Shirley Basseys they hate to waste time standing around a studio or on location, the result of which is that there is little dressy and game in this visual record and the listening legion have little to ogle meaning that the issuers of material like Single Video Theory have nothing purchasable to append. The McFarlane animated Do The Evolution promo video was collared by Pearl Jam Touring Band 2000 (2001), a magnanimous video volume with two hours of concert and 50 minutes of extras. The release of Single Video Theory thus reeks of opportunism from a separate quarter. There would appear to be a quick turnaround on the most readily available of Pearl Jam material, the latest long player is already half price and on its original video release this title was available in sales at �2 only two Christmas on; fans who did not collect it earlier are advised to wait for the DVD coming in cheaper in sales also.
   Ten songs are performed to perfection but hang your doubts, as anyone who has seen the band live can tell you, this is a band that is as intrinsic on stage as it is in the studio, a precision sound every time, an immaculately rehearsed quintet; the sound you hear is an honest transfer. Intelligent guitars and a great voice are repeatedly proven. All Those Yesterdays welcomes the viewer in as the band quite literally clock in at the studio. The songs are bridged by interviews with the five band members finding a comfortable place on the back end of a terrible pressure zone, a prone period during which they reduced the touring along with the unnecessary video shoots. After all, as they saw it, this was an aural thing, the visual medium had a distant place in the scheme of things, and the mental images drummed up by the sound were the important thing. The interviews are chiefly about the now and the new, the Yield album, the creative process, the themes and results. It is particularly poignant to see Jack Irons, the drummer, here pondering his abilities, questioning his gift, positing the future he so wishes to continue to pursue with the band, whether he still has what is required to go forward with them. We now know that he was shortly after to retire when illness bore too greatly down on him; he looks tired but happy, the fans are understood not to expect to see his return. He drums so hard that an ice bath is brought in for his hands... or is that part of the ailment. Matt Cameron (ex of Soundgarden) became his permanent replacement. Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard indulge in the playful accusatory banter that persists to this day, on camera and on stage, berating one another, but the best of brotherly fondness unmistakeable between them. For a group of individuals and composers who claim to fail to understand one another fully or enough, the tunes that ride out on the riffs and the slip in of lyrics are a magical meld.
   Produced by Kelly Curtis (Mrs Vedder) and Cameron Crowe (the great groupie, hanger on and fame surfer), this visual record was overseen by director Mark Pellington (director of the Jeremy promo video) who followed up with the critically lauded Arlington Road and more recently had a Fortean fling with The Mothman Prophecies, the programme is impeccable but should not alone be a release. It should have been support to a longer documentary or concert video when one is due. The band made the headlines in America recently when Eddie staked a George Bush Jr full head mask on the mike stand and 'dozens' of fans were seen to walk out. What did they think Bu$hLeaguer was about? They weren't really Pearl Jam fans (probably blind dates and press on a freebie ticket) and with a sell-out two-leg tour ongoing stateside alone... I doubt they'll be too concerned.
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