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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there are quite a few images of violence. These are usually presented in the context of anti-violence messages, but still that severed hand with a recognizable wedding ring might be a little much for some. There are also some strong political and anti-President Bush messages that may upset conservative families.
What's the story?
PEARL JAM, the self-titled eighth CD of the group, features stunning guitar work, soulful singing, and an overall message that is anti-war and nonviolent, delivered via a few disturbingly violent images. Songs also address other social issues, such as unemployment, debt, and high gasoline prices. The Seattle quintet seems eager to be taken seriously as socially conscious and articulate artists for the twenty-first century. Delivered with enough passion, sincerity, and depth to make a point, the songs are evocative and interesting. \"Unemployable\" and the lonely \"Come Back\" will creep under your skin and take up residence for a while. \"Life Wasted,\" \"Comatose,\" and \"Big Wave\" evoke the Pearl Jam of years past.
Is it any good?
What really stands out on this album are the performances. Lead vocalist Eddie Vedder sings with passion and soulful sincerity, enhanced by Matt Cameron's raw background vocals. Cameron also does a terrific job on drums, and Mike McCready and Stone Gossard seem to inspire each other to reach new heights on guitar. The passion of the performances goes hand in hand with the fact that the members of Pearl Jam have something of substance to say. Their distinctly anti-Bush-administration stance may offend some families, but no matter what your politics, you and your kids will have plenty to discuss.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the songs' political and social messages, and whether or not they are effective. What do you think about rock stars as activists? What do you think when they use their music to express their views? Are you more likely to be motivated into action -- or annoyed?