Backspacer Buyer’s Guide

by John Reynolds on September 15, 2009

Backspacer

Backspacer

Backspacer euphoria is upon us! But … how can one album have so many purchase options? Just as the name “Backspacer” is taken from a typewriter key, there are nearly as many variations of Backspacer as there are typewriter keys!

What you do is up to you, and there are a lot of factors. In this tough economy, what’s your budget? Are you an audio geek? If you want maximum fidelity, you’ll go vinyl. If you’re semi-old-school, you’ll still go with the (nearly-30-year-old-technology) CD. For the non-materialistic minimalist, there are a bunch of download options. Let’s take a look!

PearlJam.com

Cost:

What You Get:

  • CD: “Ten Club/Indie Package” – hard-bound book style jacket ala the “Avocado” package.
  • LP: 180-gram vinyl. 24-page full-sized (11.75″ x 11.75″) full-color booklet

Half Full / Half Empty

“Avocado” gave us our first taste of buying a CD directly from the artist, and from all accounts was wildly successful. The CD was housed in a “book” and presented the artwork in high-quality non-plastic packaging. Expect similar for Backspacer. Vinyl lovers will continue to rejoice, and between 2009′s Ten re-issue, “The Fixer” 7-inch and this LP, you have nothing to complain about. The shipping costs are quite high – $5.50 for the CD and $7.50 for the Vinyl. But while there are no promises, the Ten Club nicely sent pre-orders of “Avocado” out a few days before the release date, but depending on your location, ymmv.

Deep Thoughts:

Pearl Jam is the artist. Pearl Jam is the record company. Consider them the mothership. PearlJam.com is the official online store and unless they start opening Pearl Jam retail stores next to Baby Gap and In-And-Out Burger, look no further for official releases than PearlJam.com. You will see below that other bonus goodies accompany all the other releases, and we curiously wonder if bonus goodies will be provided in the shipments or there are some future downloadable treasures.

Coalition of Independent Music Stores

CIMS

Independent Record Stores

Cost:

  • CD – $11.99
  • LP – $19.99

What You Get:

  • CD: “Ten Club/Indie Package” – hard-bound book style jacket ala the “Avocado” package (same as PearlJam.com version)
  • LP: 180-gram vinyl. 24-page full-sized (11.75″ x 11.75″) full-color booklet (same as PearlJam.com version)
  • Possibly some free goodies
  • That great feeling of purchasing from an independent record store!

Half Full / Half Empty

For many of us, hanging out at midnight sales or waiting for shops to open on Tuesday mornings was a ritual. Easy Street Records carries on that tradition September 19 with its “Backspacer Bash“. Not only do you get to hang with fellow fans, but if you bring non-perishable food items, you get free gifts and become eligible for drawings of PJ merch!

Deep Thoughts:

Yes, it sounds drastic and wildly twentieth century, but you will have to leave your house if you want to buy Backspacer this way. You also won’t have to pay for shipping, but you will have to pay for gas to get there (ok, ok, unless you walk). If you live near an indie store, consider this option. Also, in the days leading up to the release date, Pearl Jam has had cool Twitter contests for the first fans to find a special orange “The Fixer” 7-inch vinyls at different stores in Seattle, and people have actually won!

iTunes

iTunes

iTunes

Cost:

  • $0.99 per song
  • $9.99 for the album

What You Get:

  • “iTunes LP” – One of the new features in iTunes 9 is the iTunes LP feature, which lets artists share art, lyrics, liner notes, photos and videos

Half Full / Half Empty

PearlJam.com recently went out of their way to address international iTunes purchases, with links for fans in the UK, Germany, Australia, Canada and Japan.

Deep Thoughts:

If you are a sound quality geek, you will probably make mp3s yourself from the CD and not use iTunes. If you exclusively buy (yes, I said “buy”, not “steal”) mp3s, iTunes is currently your only option.

Target minus the dot com

Target minus the dot com

Target

Cost:

  • CD – $11.98

What You Get:

  • A “regular” CD
  • Two Live Concert downloads – According to BillBoard.com, “The Target discs will link to a virtual ‘vault’ of 11 concerts spanning Pearl Jam’s career, from which fans can choose two. “
  • T-shirt – Also according to BillBoard.com, “The band will also create an organic cotton T-shirt to be sold at Target, with proceeds earmarked for the hunger relief charity Feeding America. “

Half Full / Half Empty

From Target, you are getting the CD at a good price, but remember that it’s not the cool packaging as from PearlJam.com or Independent Record Stores. The additional t-shirt is a bonus if you’re into PJ Tees.  Lastly, if you were never a huge bootleg collector, getting two free live concerts is not a bad deal.

Deep Thoughts:

Target is certainly the best option for casual fans, fans in out of the way places without the ability or inclination to buy online, or die-hards who are completeists and want every version.  If you want to save on the shipping costs, buying from Target is a viable option. But if you haven’t looked for independent record stores in your city, use the store finder on cims.com and see if there is a local store near you – the CDs are the same price. Plus, why not support a local store that is probably struggling in this economy. The manager of a local record store probably doesn’t live like the Target CEO.

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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