Pearl Jam’s Best Unreleased Songs: 13 More Lost Dogs
In 2003, Pearl Jam opened the vault and gifted fans with an album of B-sides and previously unreleased songs known as Lost Dogs. A good portion of the track list was comprised of tunes that most fans already had in one form or another, but there were also some that they never even knew existed, which seemed impossible to mega-fans at the time of release.
The strength of the Pearl Jam B-side back catalog paired with the exciting new/old tracks made for a listening experience comparable, if not superior, to most band's greatest hits collections. Arriving so shortly on the heels of the band's incredible seventh album Riot Act and just a few months after their marathon 58-date North American tour, the release of Lost Dogs was an unexpected gift piled atop the embarrassment of riches Pearl Jam fans enjoyed at the time.
This was the era where Pearl Jam really began to lean into being a band by, of and for the fans. Lost Dogs was such a thoughtfully crafted piece of fan service that even the packaging was a blessing. The jacket offered a rare peek behind the curtain, featuring descriptions of each song by band members, as well as recording notes.
A band with a history as long as Pearl Jam's has likely accrued entire albums worth of material that is completely unknown to their devotees. Luckily for us, Pearl Jam is a pretty impulsive live act and we sometimes get to hear songs that haven't hit an official album yet. Also, it's next to impossible keeping anything under wraps in the digital age. Thanks to those two factors we do know about some of the other "lost dogs," many of which are quite good.
Here are just a handful of Pearl Jam tracks that have not yet had an official studio recording released.
"Of the Earth"
This is perhaps the best-known Pearl Jam track that has yet to find a home on an album. Believed to be a leftover from their self-titled eighth album (commonly referred to as "Avocado"), the band debuted the song live in 2010 during their Dublin show, and has since played it over a dozen times.
"Open Road" dates all the way back to 1995, where it made its first and only appearance during a live performance in Phoenix. It's been debated that this bluesy little number was improvised on the day. The loose structure of the song definitely feels like it could be just a spontaneous jam, but the strength of Eddie Vedder's lyrics suggest otherwise. The one thing we do know for sure is that this one is one of the more beloved rare artifacts among fans.
This 9/11 inspired anti-war tune written by Mike McCready ahead of the band's Riot Act sessions made its debut at the 2001 Bridge School Benefit. While the subject matter would have been a perfect fit for that politically-charged album, the song's more traditional classic rock feel may have been out of place. Instead, the live version of "Last Soldier" was released as the Christmas single that year, but no studio version of has ever been released.
"Let it Ride"
"Let it Ride" was reportedly recorded during the same sessions that gave birth to the previously mentioned "Of the Earth," along with a number of songs that actually made the Avocado album ("Marker in the Sand," "Worldwide Suicide," "Crapshoot"). Despite being from a two year period where Pearl Jam is believed to have recorded a lot of material that has never been heard by anyone outside of their inner circle, this demo was one of a few that found its way to the internet.
"Cold Confession" is another leaked demo said to have been recorded during the same Avocado sessions as "Let it Ride," "Of the Earth" and several songs from the finished album. While this one does feature a Vedder vocal take with a nice mixture of rasp and vulnerability, along with some prominent playing from Pearl Jam's sixth man Boom Gaspar, it definitely feels more like an early-stage demo than a fully realized Pearl Jam song.
"Falling Down" quickly became a beloved track among the Pearl Jam faithful after it was debuted at Colorado's famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 1995. The band is said to have recorded the song during the No Code sessions that same year and again later under the title "Fallen" during the Yield sessions. Those versions of the song never made an album, but they did release a live take as the Christmas single in 2010. The song's faint similarities to "River of Deceit" by Mad Season -- McCready's side project at the time -- may be the exact reason for the song's exclusion.
"Anything in Between"
Though slightly harder to track down than most on this list, "Anything in Between" is perhaps the closest to an album-ready song. Even more surprising is how well the 1999 recording would fit with the rest of Binaural and that it didn't make the cut. Honestly, it would've fit in nicely with Yield as well. Sure, the demo version that is out there could use a little polishing, but "Anything in Between" very much encapsulates the sonic weirdness that permeated Pearl Jam's sound at the turn of the century.
PJ20 Song ("We Made It")
It's very possible that this one was conceived solely to be played once. Vedder admitted he wrote the song with Pearl Jam's history and 2011's PJ20 celebration at Alpine Valley, Wis. in mind. An untitled ballad was a nice touch for such a special occasion, but this is likely the only version of it that will ever see the light of day.
This meandering ditty would've been right at home with Pearl Jam's more experimental offerings, such as '"Sometimes" and "I'm Open" from No Code. However, it was recorded during the Avocado sessions and ultimately got squeezed out by songs that made more sense for that release. This one just doesn't match the energy or feel of that record.
"Puzzle and Game"
Recorded with the lyrics, bridge and solo to "Light Years," this Binaural demo lost out to a more fitting arrangement, and arguably one of the strongest Pearl Jam tracks from the last 20 years. "Puzzle and Game" ultimately got farmed out for parts, as the intro/verse guitar part sound like a more upbeat variation of the Riot Act song "Thumbing My Way." Any release of this track is unlikely, but it is the most interesting Frankenstein monster of the Pearl Jam catalog (that we know of).
Much of the recorded work from Pearl Jam's early days has seen the light of day across the releases of Lost Dogs and the Ten and Vs. re-releases, but this one remains in the vault. There are some layered harmonies throughout the song, but it is largely instrumental. There are definitely other unreleased Pearl Jam instrumentals out there not included in our list, but "Chinese" makes the cut because it sounds like a fully realized and structured song for which they just never got around to recording vocals.
Well known due to its inclusion on Pearl Jam's first official live release, Live on Two Legs, this entrancingly beautiful ballad found its home as the live intro to the Yield track "MFC." While it's a perfect fit for that song, it's a shame that it never grew into its own standalone composition, because it is definitely strong enough to do so.
"Brother" (Original Version)
Maybe put an asterisk next to this one, as different versions of it have been released over the years. However, the continued absence of what many fans considered to be the definitive version of this Ten outtake makes it worthy of inclusion.