I don't need to introduce anyone to Pearl Jam you all know them and either love 'em or loathe 'em. If you loathe 'em, then move on, 'cos this review ain't gonna change yer mind about 'em. If you love 'em, then you've probably already picked up Lost Dogs and thus this review will do you no good.
Now that there's no one left reading, let's get this thing started all proper-like: Lost Dogs is a rarities album composed of compilation tracks, B-sides, fan-club singles and unreleased tunes. Honestly, there are a number of clunkers in this two-disc set and much of this material probably should have remained in the vaults many of these "lost dogs" should have been sent to the pound. For example, does the world really need to hear an alternate version of a throwaway song like "Dirty Frank"? The answer is no.
Don't get me wrong: The idea of a rarities package of this nature is a pretty good one, and it is neat to hear some of these cuts, especially the alternate versions of many of the band's already-released B-sides ("You," "Footsteps," "Alone"). However, many of the unreleased songs ("Don't Gimme No Lip," "Hitchhiker," "Sweet Lew," which is maybe the worst song ever recorded...who told Jeff Ament he had could sing?!) are just plain lousy, and the inclusion of those fan-club singles ("Strangest Tribe," "Let Me Sleep") and other previously released material ("Other Side," "Black, Red, Yellow," "Undone") isn't exactly fair to the diehard fans who searched out all of these rare tracks when they were originally unleashed.
Nitpicking aside, this set has its moments. The liner notes, for example, are actually quite entertaining, especially the bits written by Pearl Jam's usually humorless lead singer Ed Vedder (about the band's only hit single, the wretched "Last Kiss," Vedder says, "We've done really well with teenage death songs").
The casual fan will thrill at the prospect of finally owning some of Pearl Jam's most popular B-sides, such as "Yellow Ledbetter" and "Last Kiss," without having to pay top dollar for the imports. And the inclusion of the previously unreleased gem "Bee Girl," which was written on the spot at a radio interview about the little girl in Blind Melon's only hit music video, almost makes this two-CD set essential (almost). The lyrics to "Bee Girl" are surprisingly touching ("Believe in nothing, believe me: Those who can be trusted can change their minds...") and uncharacteristically funny ("Bee Girl, you're gonna die..."). I hope this song is played at Bee Girl's funeral, or at least at the photo-shoot for when she's featured in People magazine's "Where Are They Now?" issue, along with that kid who was on the cover of Nevermind.
It should be noted that many of Pearl Jam's best songs ("Dead Man," "Hard to Imagine") never made it onto the band's actual albums, so it is a treat to have them all in this collection if you're a fan. If you're not a fan, then you'll just have to buy something by Interpol, buddy.