Let me say at the outset that I am not a Pearl Jam zealot. Somewhere in the 600+ CD's stacked like plastic skyscrapers in the Brinecave there are five studio and live PJ albums, which I never tire of.
Conversely, how many musicians can keep churning out albums and continue to stimulate the earbuds of us cash strapped punters? The late Zappa, maybe. Even the mighty Lou Reed, the Stones and Mr Young put out some clunkers.
With this in mind, I tentatively ventured to the local music shoppe and handed over $30 to the friendly part time musician, who recognised an old roadie in my hearing loss. What if Lightning Bolt was a dud? This is album #quite-a-few after all. But the reviewer gave it 5 out of 5.
I rationalised my expenditure by convincing myself that spending money locally is good for the local economy and keeping some young person in a job (after all somebody - presumably jobless - tried to break into my neighbours' yesterday). And let's face it, at this time of the year, you're flat out getting three cans of decent beer at the local golf club for $30. And I'm pretty sure the sonic pleasure will last longer than the hangover. At worst, I can regift it to somebody for Xmas . . .
And so we come to the packaging aRt, either a copy of the theme used by Led Zepellin last Xmas or a nod to Russian Constructivism of 100 years ago. I'm guessing the latter. Either way the artwork is the only disappointing part of Thunderbolt. There's nothing revolutionary about this album. It's great sonically, but with songs like Thunderbolt (about girl), not exactly harvesting new terrain or encouraging the proletariat to take over the Czar's riches. There' fast songs, slow songs and sections with amazing percussion and awesome guitar. Eddie would go, Eddie did go. Keeper.