Mother Love Bone – ‘On Earth As It Is: The Complete Works’ reviewed

❉ The collected works of Seattle glam-rock act, and precursor to Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone.

A generation ago, musicians from the so-called grunge scene broke out of the Pacific Northwest and helped instigate the last time rock ruled the charts. Although a formative act in Seattle, Mother Love Bone never saw the fruits of that era, as frontman Andrew Wood overdosed on June 19, 1990. Wood was extraordinarily beloved in the Seattle music community, and everyone who was around at the time has stories of how he helped knit them together.  Until now, all we’ve had to remember his band’s hard glam/groove sound was their EP, ‘Shine’ (1989) and single LP ‘Apple’ (1990), which have both been out of print for years, with used copies going for silly money. (A quick check of the Discogs website shows the first US CD of ‘Apple’ currently going for almost $100.)


With Temple of the Dog, the pre-Pearl Jam band formed to honor Andrew Wood’s memory by Mother Love Bone’s Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, with Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron, currently re-formed and touring sold-out venues, It makes perfect sense for the band’s revitalized Stardog Records imprint to release a career retrospective. And what a retrospective it is. Back in the 1990s, we would have called ‘On Earth As It Is: The Complete Works’ a box set … 3CDs and a DVD with every known professional recording of the band, with the first CD featuring the bulk of the tracks from ‘Shine’ and ‘Apple’, the second and third CDs include 20 even more rare cuts, including the track from ‘Shine’ that was re-recorded for ‘Apple’ plus a plethora of B-sides, demos, and live tracks. The DVD includes the content of the long deleted VHS-only 35-minute memorial documentary ‘Love Bone Earth Affair’ plus several more promotional videos.


Sound quality is excellent on the remastered ‘Shine’ and ‘Apple.’ Having not owned copies of the originals for years (and bitterly regretting having sold them for pretty much the same span of time), I can’t do an A-B comparison, but ‘On Earth As It Is: The Complete Works’ boasts excellent clarity and bottom end, without being a brickwalled victim of the CD “loudness wars.” Old favorites like Half Ass Monkey Boy and Capricorn Sister still rock just as much now as they did 26 years ago. I can heartily recommend  this package.

The grunge era may be long gone, but as with any music scene, its history is ultimately told by the music it produced and how well it’s remembered. With ‘On Earth As It Is: The Complete Works,’ Mother Love Bone’s importance is recognized for posterity.

❉ ‘Mother Love Bone: On Earth As It Is’ is available in both a vinyl and CD/DVD set from UMC (via Stardog Records).

❉ Image credits: Prescription PR.

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