Wednesday, May 4, 2011

90s Music: Pearl Jam

Very few bands from the 90s are as iconic as Pearl Jam.  Even if they can match Pearl Jam in popularity or influence, there is probably no band from the 90s that continues to tour and release albums as they still do today (maybe Radiohead.)  Saying that Pearl Jam is my generation's Rolling Stones is probably a fair and accurate statement.

So today we'll be focusing on Pearl Jam's 90s catalog.  Heck, we might be just focusing on 1991-1994, but we'll see how it goes.  I'll pick one single and two lesser known tracks from Ten, Vs., and Vitalogy.  No, "Bugs" will not be one of my picks.  I can only imagine Eddie Vedder's skin was infested with scabies when he wrote that tune on his accordion.  I'm getting off topic...

"Alive" - Pearl Jam "Ten" is most definitely in the Top 5 albums released in the 1990s.  EVERY song on the album is stellar.  I'm splitting hairs making any definitive picks, but my favorite single off this album is "Alive."  It has great lyrics, great hooks, a killer intro guitar riff, and pushes and pulls it's way into perfection.  I would like to start teaching a songwriting class.  The first day of class, I'd welcome everyone, break out a boombox, and play this song on repeat for an hour.  I'd even be willing to bet that the musicians attending would walk out of the classroom as better songwriters.  The song is that good (though we take it for granted at times because it was definitely overplayed.)

"Porch" - Like I said, I can't go wrong picking any of these songs. "Porch" is a phenomenal song. Remember the performance from MTV's Unplugged where Eddie Vedder goes crazy and starts writing Pro-Choice on his arm with a marker? If not, you're in luck:

"Why Go" - I almost went with "Release" because it is a great, relaxing song. However, I pressed play on this track and the drums immediately got me as hyped up as Frank The Tank after a few beer bongs!

"Animal" - Another song with an iconic guitar riff. In this case, an iconic rhythm guitar riff (rock on Stone Gossard!) Pearl Jam is successful due to their mix of emotional slow songs as well as kick ass rockers. This is one of the latter.

"Rearview Mirror" - ANY other band would've made this a single. Pearl Jam's song collection is so solid that this is just one of those solid album tracks listeners expect from them. They even named their Greatest Hits album after this track.

"Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town" - A slower song that you probably love. This was one of the first songs I learned on guitar. Learning to sing it took much longer.

"Better Man" - This song is amazing. Apparently, PJ almost didn't record it because they felt it was "too Pop." Whatever. All I know is that this song is still in regular rotation in my music collection.

"Last Exit" - My friends and I liked this song so much in high school, that our band was named Last Exit. The drums are sick. The chorus rocks. The verse riff is simple but wonderful. There is nothing to not like here. Here's performance from May of 2010. They still rock this song!

"Tremor Christ" - This slow brooding jam is sneaky great. Listen to the bass as it comes in behind the main guitar riff. It's like a Navy Seal in the bushes. Eddie's voice soars and completes this song.

Pearl Jam was the first concert I ever saw (albeit abbreviated by Eddie Vedder's illness- Neil Young came out and played for HOURS though.) If you like 90s rock, you probably like Pearl Jam- I know I love them and revisit their catalog often. I hope they continue recording and touring for many years to come.

Songs I love from "No Code" and "Yield" - "Hail, Hail," "Off He Goes," "In My Tree," "Red Mosquito," "Brain of J.," "No Way," "Low Light," and "Wishlist."


GMoney said...

I've always been partial to Black. The lyrics are ridiculously depressing but the song is nasty. I Got Id is excellent as well. And every once in awhile, I'll hear Dissident and drift off into a state of reminiscing.

I saw PJ outdoors in Cincy during college. They played for 2.5 hours. It was amazing. Still the best concert that I've ever been to.

Brandon said...

Alive and Even Flow were the epitome of great songs that were played to death in the 90's, along with Lightning Crashes, 1979, The Man Who Sold the World, and everything by Sublime. OK, I never liked Sublime, so those songs weren't great and were just overplayed.

I haven't noticed the trend in a while though. I don't know if the music industry gave up their fondness for beating songs to death, or if I just don't listen to the radio enough to notice. Thank FSM for the internet.

Black was always my favorite Pearl Jam song as well.

Tony B. said...

Black is clearly an awesome song. That could be Day 2 of my songwriting class.

PJ just seem to genuinely love music in general as well as the music they play. Great live shows.

The radio destroys songs- but they are all terrible songs you shouldn't listen to anyway. At least, unless you're learning them due to requests that get throw your way at shows. (Ugh.)

MacKenzie said...

I love Pearl Jam! I just heard about their new documentary that'll be out in September and I can't wait!

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