Lost Dogs: Rarities and B Sides

The last pup on Lost Dogs — two CDs of non-LP flotsam from Pearl Jam's first eleven years — is an unlisted song for a lost soul: Layne Staley of Alice in Chains. Written by Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder the night he heard of Staley's fatal overdose, "4/20/02" is Vedder alone, on shuddering electric guitar, drowning in loss and rage: "So, sing just like him, fuckers/It won't offend him/Just me/Because he's dead." Too black-and-blue for last year's Riot Act, the track fits perfectly in this anything-goes rodeo, along with the 1996 benefit-album cover of the old Motown corker "Leaving Here" (given a Who-via-Mot?rhead bruising) and the 1991 rap-metal prank "Dirty Frank," honoring a Pearl Jam tour-bus driver. There is plenty of heavy here, and much of it should have been on long player earlier, such as the No Code-era rocket "All Night" and the 1993 B side "Alone," a crushing chunk of metal from back when grunge was not a dirty word. But the real surprise is the deep library of great ballads here: the wintry sadness of "Strangest Tribe"; the Hendrix-ian glow of "Yellow Ledbetter." In fact, for an album of odds 'n' sods, Lost Dogs sure sounds a lot like a pack of hits.