Just the other day I mentioned how there were a lot of albums getting a special anniversary in 2016 and I wasn’t kidding since on this very day back in 1991 a little band named Pearl Jam came out of the apparent nowhere with their debut album “10”. It’s a bit of a slap from the time machine as I realize how such an album is now 25 years old and how in today’s music world that Pearl Jam is one of the very biggest bands known to man. I remember that I first heard Pearl Jam on my friend Rebel’s local Metal and Hard Rock radio show and how excited we both were about it since the music of Mother Love Bone was something that he used to play each and every week on the show. I was in one of my Metal bands at the time and it was clear by the sound of this particular album that the music scene was entering a dramatically shifting area. The Grunge movement was officially in place and the crushing thunder of double bass, razor riffing guitars and pounding bass were being moved to the side for this seemingly simpler sound. Of course the “Ten” album was nothing simple at all but loaded with atmosphere in terms of melody and deeply focused lyrics that spoke to the world around us more than stuff that found you unsheathing swords against imaginary adversaries.
I’ll speak a little more about the tracks in a minute but first want to remind readers that this toast remains personal reflection since all that deeper analysis is best gleaned on the Wikipedia entry for the album. It’s like a textbook at the end of the day. The members of the lineup for the release were Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Eddie Vedder (vocals) and Dave Krusen (drums). Both Gossard and Ament were members of the aforementioned Mother Love Bone and all members save Knusen have remained in the PJ lineup since its formation in 1990. The bands fifth drummer Matt Cameron (who does double duty in Soundgarden) has been handling kit duties since 1998. Gossard and Ament were responsible for the larger writing of the album with Vedder offering up contributions on a couple of tracks. Below you can see the exact rundown of the classic release. While you look, start remembering your favorite tunes and I will tell you mine as well.
2. Even Flow
4. Why Go
Much like the “Boston” debut that I toasted a few days ago, Pearl Jam’s “10” was an album that I would listen to over and over again once I finally had my own copy in my hand’s. I remember telling the local music store proprietor that he had to find this album for me since it was going to be the next big thing. This was met with a raised eyebrow but he got me one and also a few others for his store which remained on the shelves for too long in his opinion at the time. The band was not yet on the “real” radio and only making the rounds on the forward thinking independent places like Rebel’s “Metal In Your Face” show was doing. Once it did hit the airwaves with the song “Alive” which was the first track I would hear on those mainstream waves it became a roller coaster and shops like my friend’s place couldn’t keep a copy on the shelves if they wanted to. The album was selling by the crate and everyone was discussing their appreciation for the band and how they had heard them before the person next to them. Hahaha, sorry guys I definitely was ahead of so many of you on that one. Thanks Rebel Oh yeah so the songs. Wow, there were so many tunes on this that I loved and it began for me with “Alive” and continued with “Even Flow”, “Jeremy”, “Why Go”, “Black” etc. etc. Those few were perhaps my most favorite of a preferred body of musical work. You can tell me what you loved about this one after I’m done. It was amazing to find such deep lyrics such as homelessness and teen suicide being played but in truth this was life as we knew it and these things were happening around us day after day. Vedder was not unlike a preacher about societal ills and many were rallying behind his words and each of them hit us with emphatic meaning and resolve. Sadly, a lot of these topics are still ringing far too loudly and we must aim at change for the greater good – if we can that is.
I never owned this album on vinyl and instead opted for the still new CD medium. The booklet was more of a fold-out on the original release and despite my only having a small pile of CD’s still I didn’t like this manner of insert. I always worried that one of the idiots in my circle going to play the album and tearing the insert or folding it back wrong. Oh don’t be mad at me for saying it like that as I am sure you have those types in your group that damage everything that they touch. I still have that first CD and the insert is pristine or as a comic book collector would say a CGC grade of “9”. For me this remains my very favorite Pearl Jam album and while I continued to follow them for a number of years I pretty much fell off the actual track of regular support around the time that “Yield” came out. My musical head was looking in different and much heavier directions at the time and especially over to the European side where I was slowly discovering the Finnish Metal stuff but that is an article for another posting. As usual I am listening to the work as I pen these notes and am finding myself singing along with all the tunes as they go by me. My poor neighbors. I’m trying to hold back on the drumming on the desk so I can focus the tapping on the keyboard and have this posted. I’ve never yet seen Pearl Jam in concert despite having wanted to for quite a few years now. Their shows sell out almost instantly nowadays but one day perhaps I’ll be there with the rest of you.
Congratulations guys on a truly amazing debut album. I’m sure you all didn’t think it was going to have the impact that it did but here we are raising a glass to its 25th. That’s all I have on this one and I will see you next time around. Feel free to let me know how this body of work affected you when you first heard it, and even more so if it was years after the fact. Let’s face it, not everyone can be there at the beginning.
Official Album Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_(Pearl_Jam_album)
Official Website: http://www.pearljam.com
I’ve linked to the original classic on the CD medium even though so many of you listeners out there today are doing the Digital Download for their music collection. Of course there are the LP collectors as well and the links will lead them to that version as well.