As an actual front-to-back listening experience, Lost Dogs makes like a decade-spanning collection of outtakes, B-sides and other ephemera. It takes until the start of the second disc for any semblance of flow to emerge. In fact, a solid case could be made that disc’s first nine tracks — among them, Binaural outtake “Fatal,” “Dead Man” (the group’s rejected contribution to the Dead Man Walking soundtrack), some fan-club singles cuts and shoulda-been Vitalogy cut “Hard To Imagine” — are all the outtakes a Pearl Jam fan would need. But that would exclude their spirited Who homage (via Holland-Dozier-Holland nugget “Leaving Here”), a spirited run through surf-rock standard “Gremmie Out of Control,” and two tracks that also found themselves on the group’s best-of: their chart-topping cover of “Last Kiss,” and alt-rock radio staple/shameless Hendrix homage “Yellow Ledbetter.”
If there’s anything definitive to take from Lost Dogs, it’s that the group cut a whole lot of tracks during the Binaural sessions. Six of the 31 tracks here — all previously unreleased — come from the making of that album, and a case for inclusion on the LP proper could be made for most of them. On the other hand, Jeff Ament’s “Magic Johnson” rewrite called “Sweet Lew” (as in Alcindor, aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) might have been better off forgotten. At least it finds another RHCP knock-off, the Ten-era B-side “Dirty Frank,” to befriend on the back end of Disc 2. Some folks might bemoan the exclusion of the two-song Merkin Ball EP or other fan-club offerings (among other omissions), but this thorough collection of has-beens, nice-tries, and what-the-hells more than does its job.