Other Side

Jeff Ament fought hard for “Other Side” to be included on Riot Act, so perhaps as consolation for its absence there, the song is featured on no less than three other releases: Lost Dogs, and the singles for “Save You” and “Love Boat Captain”. But as we delve further into the realm of Riot Act tracks and b-sides, we’re forced again into the “what if?” discussion, as in what if Ament got his way? Even considering only the songs we know about from the RA sessions (internet posts of questionable veracity abound with up to fifteen additional titles), Pearl Jam had more material than they perhaps knew what to do with.  The resulting album had 15 tracks, the most of any Pearl Jam record. We can’t change what now exists as a permanent artifact, decided on by the band–but speculation about “Other Side” might help us understand why they made the choices they made.

A Riot Act that made use of “Down”, “Undone”, and “Other Side” would have been a very different animal, but how different?  As it stands, I’d say that the album is even more haphazard and random than No Code, which is usually singled out for being all over the map.  For instance, what pandemonium would have ensued had “Other Side” replaced “Help Help”?  The former clearly bests the latter in melody and sheer pleasantness.  Despite key changes and those underwater guitar effects, the song flows remarkably well. Plus, Ament’s lyrics about love and mortality, separation across the void, are some of his best and least awkward.  The only justification I can see for excluding “Other Side” from the Riot Act party is that the overall mood, and Vedder’s vocals, are inordinately subdued. Not exactly riotous.

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~ by Michael on June 5, 2007.

6 Responses to “Other Side”

  1. I know that many fans get excited about “Other Side” but it doesn’t do a single thing for me. I don’t really enjoy the melody or the lyrics. The whole thing is very muddled and feels like classic “B-side” material to my ears. Whereas “Down” would have been a great addition to RA, I don’t think “Other Side” would have made much difference. From what we have heard, it’s definately my least favorite RA outtake. But who knows what else we’ll get to hear down the road….

  2. There are a number of Ament tracks that definitely feel “muddled” to me, though here the impulse to keep layering sounds and tracks isn’t quite as detrimental for me as it has been on other tunes.

  3. I’m not saying Other Side needed to be included on RA, but the lyrics are some of my favorite of the entire PJ catalogue. Certainly, my favorite not penned by Ed.

    “Cannot seem to make the dots connect … “

  4. This song sounds so damn good following Fatal. I gained a completely new respect for it after I got Lost Dogs.

    Also, not many PJ songs end like ‘Fatal’ and ‘Other Side’ where the music basically cuts off, leaving Ed’s chilling vocals to end the song. ‘Alone’ is the only other song that comes to mind.

  5. Another great song from Jeff. Very emotional but unfortunately doesn’t fit to Riot Act

  6. Jeff writes really amazing songs, but this would not fit on Riot Act. I think RA was supposed to be more of an “album”/ art rock album although listening to it through and through is akward at times. If pj put on these “better” songs or “popier” songs on here it would se like they were creating a patern (Yield, poppy/ Binaural, darker and singular).

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