By Niki D'Andrea
Almost seven years after the release of Mesa-based Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American album, it might be easy for some people to forget the magnitude of that record -- especially since JEW's post-Bleed American albums, Futures (2004) and this year's Chase the Light, haven't even come close to matching the commercial success of Bleed American. Some might even wonder if Jimmy Eat World, the Valley's largest breakout band since the Gin Blossoms, will be resigned to the same sort of national collective remembrance that befell the Blossoms -- if it's not something from the '90s like "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You," or "Follow You Down," they don't want to hear it. Do people in Virginia even know that the Gin Blossoms released an album (Major Lodge Victory) in 2006? It’s really good. It’s just not on the radio like all their stuff from 1992’s New Miserable Experience still is.
The Jimmy Eat World songs that have been sung across the nation (and will hopefully still be turning up on radio stations five years from now) are “Bleed American,” “A Praise Chorus,” “The Middle,” and “Sweetness.” And they are all on Bleed American. Released in July of 2001 (and re-named Jimmy Eat World after September 11), this album is actually packed with familiar melodic pop rock songs, whether they were singles or not (“If You Don’t, Don’t,” and “The Authority Song” are still sing-along staples of the band’s live shows). Frankly, the whole album is both a miracle and a masterpiece, having been self-funded after Capitol Records (for whom JEW had already recorded two albums) dropped the group. DreamWorks Records (now dissolved, with roster artists absorbed into Geffen and Interscope) picked the band up, and Bleed American became JEW’s biggest-selling album ever, spawning a top five Billboard single with “The Middle” and selling around 1.5 million copies.
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And it’s well worth revisiting. Now with its original title back, Bleed American has been re-released in a deluxe package with three bonus tracks (including “The Most Beautiful Things” from the Good to Go EP) and a second disc crammed with 18 tracks of b-sides and rarities. But unlike many b-sides and rarities collections, this one’s palatable – included are two versions of “The Middle” (one live and one an early demo for the German-issue single), a live version of “Bleed American,” the band’s recording of “If You Don’t, Don’t” from an XFM session, and a previously unreleased live version of “Sweetness.” The limited-edition “Last Christmas”/”Firestarter” single made the compilation, too, along with two tracks from the Believe In What You Want DVD. (“My Sundown,” and “Hear You Me”).
Bleed American is still an awesome album, and old fans and newbies alike can dig into disc two. This already has my nomination for best “deluxe edition reissue of the year.” Now where’s the New Miserable Experience reissue?