Everything you need to know about Pearl Jam’s Backspacer but were afraid to ask

It’s no secret that I am a big Pearl Jam fan.

I operate a blog called Spin The Black Circle (which as you know, is not a Pearl Jam fansite), own a cat named Mookie and there are countless pictures of me all over the Internet in a blue and yellow Pearl Jam hat (which is my favorite accessory to wear). Given that information it should come as no surprise that I am excited beyond words about Backspacer, the band’s ninth studio record and its first independent release on its own Monkeywrench label.

Clocking in at 37 or so minutes, the record appears to be quick and dirty PJ and from what I’ve read the critics seem to like the album. The band is releasing the record in a myriad of formats ranging from vinyl to digital to ringtones to a special edition CD/video game combination. There’s even a special edition Backspacer t-shirt. All of this makes Backspacer one of the more intriguing releases of the year.

The album drops Sept. 20 one day prior to Pearl Jam’s kickoff of its U.S. tour at KeyArena. Here’s everything you need to know about Backspacer including info on a local release party and the record’s various formats.

First, here are the details on Backspacer itself:

The record will include what’s being called an “Ultimate Access Pass” which includes access to nearly five hours of additional audio content and allows access to preview 11 live bootleg recordings from past concerts. Backspacer owners will get to choose two of those bootleg concerts to download. The pass also allows access to future news and other updates from the band. The live shows being offered for download are: Halifax (22/09/05), Philadelphia (03/10/05), Santiago (21/11/05), Chicago (17/05/06), Grand Rapids (19/05/06), Camden (28/05/06), E Rutherford (06/03/06), San Francisco (16/07/06), New York (25/06/06), Hartford (27/06/08) and Mansfield (28/06/08)

Now the details on the record release party at Easy Street Records in West Seattle:

The store (located at 4559 California Ave SW # 200) is hosting a Backspacer Bash that starts Saturday at 9:30 p.m. and ends at 12:30 a.m. Sunday. At the bash you can listen to rare and live Pearl Jam as well as get a listen to Backspacer before buying it at midnight.

Also, if you bring in two non-perishable food items you will receive a free 2008 Pearl Jam tote bag while supplies last. Bring in five or more non-perishable food items and receive the tote bag and get entered to win some very cool PJ prizes including Pearl Jam Vs. Ames Bros. books, Live at Benaroya Hall vinyl, Eddie Vedder Live at Kenyon Hall poster and more. All the food items will be donated to the West Seattle Food Bank.

If you don’t want to stay up until midnight, here are some other ways you can get the record:

Target, which is the exclusive retailer of Backspacer, will be offering quite a few ways to get your hands on the album. First there is the stand alone album, which you can buy on CD. Then there is the special edition CD set at that is being sold at select Target stores nationwide. This set includes the Backspacer disc and a code that enables owners of the special edition to download the entire album for the video games Rock Band or Rock Band 2.

Target is also offering an exclusive Backspacer t-shirt that will feature album artwork from Tom Tomorrow (the guy who did Backspacer’s album art). The shirt is a limited edition deal and all proceeds from sales of the shirt will go to Feeding America, a domestic hunger-relief charity.

If you don’t want to buy the special edition CD set, beginning Sept. 20 the album is being offered as a standalone download for Rock Band on Xbox Live. It will be available for PlayStation 3 Sept. 24 and the Wii will have it for download on Sept. 22. On a related note, Pearl Jam made the reissue of Ten available for Rock Band download and it has sold more than 850,000 tracks from that album since its release in March. So apparently I’m not the only person who gets a kick out of pretending I can play “Porch” on my fake plastic guitar (My XBL gamertag is The Walwrus if you wanna faux jam on some Pearl Jam with me).

You can also get the record via iTunes and the new iTunes LP format which will give you access to animated lyrics and liner notes, artist performance videos, photos and other cool stuff. The iTunes preorder gets you access to Backspacer lead single “The Fixer” along with its accompanying Cameron Crowe music video. More details about the iTunes offers can be found here.

Of course Pearl Jam wouldn’t be Pearl Jam if they didn’t stick up for the little guy, so you can also get your copy of Backspacer via indie record shops that are part of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (hence, Easy Street Records selling the album). Click here for CIMS shops.

Lastly, there’s the ringtones and ringback tones which you can get from Verizon Wireless. You can click here to get the deets for you cellular PJ needs.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that PJ will be doing its bootleg live recordings again this tour. You can get select shows either in mp3. FLAC or burn-on-demand CD. Pearljam.com has all the details on that program.

So that’s about all the Backspacer news I have for now. Look for a review of the record soon.

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