“Angel” might be as rare as a released Pearl Jam original can get, held only to an early fan club single, played live only four times, and allegedly considered then scrapped from the Lost Dogs collection. But the pure ardor for the song in some fan circles rivals that of their biggest hits. There are a few songs in the catalog that sound so fragile and intimate that it almost seems an intrusion on private thoughts; “Angel” is certainly one of those songs.
The song is also an anomaly as the sole known collaboration completely between drummer Dave Abbruzzese and Ed Vedder, and it’s strange, otherworldly guitar progression is certainly not reminiscent of anything else the band has done since. Vedder experiments here with multi-tracked vocal harmonies that push and pull at each other over the acoustic guitar. Not until the soaring bridge of “I’m not alone” do the notes come together into recognizable and more immediately pleasing combinations. The bulk of the song is full of odd melodic intervals.
Long before Vs. was released, I read about “Angel” as a potential new song for that album. If it was ever considered, I would imagine it was left off not only for its delicacy, but because of its strange, atypical chord structures, which, unless you’re locked in as a devoted fan, might sound disjointed and out of place on that record. Although I was not a Ten Club member at the time it was released, I eventually founded a used copy of the 45, though that was a few years after hearing it on an unofficial bootleg that collected rare songs (also included were “Dock of the Bay”, “I’ve Got a Feeling”, and an early “I Won’t Back Down”). Oh sweet nostalgia.