Saturday, May 19, 2012

207- Ten. This goes to eleven.

Album: Ten
Artist: Pearl Jam
Year: 1991
Genre: Rock


  1. Once
  2. Even Flow
  3. Alive
  4. Why Go
  5. Black
  6. Jeremy
  7. Oceans
  8. Porch
  9. Garden
  10. Deep
  11. Release

Pearl Jam's debut album has sold well over 13 million copies. Along with receipts from the tour it spawned, and sales of the singles (which were all chart successes) Ten made Pearl Jam enough money to set them up for life. They entered the studio as eager, unknown musicians and it turned them into millionaire superstars. How on earth do you follow that up? How do you reclaim the hunger and drive that helped you to write album one when you have to leave your new mansion in one of your recently purchased sports cars in order to get to the studio and record album two?

I have nothing but respect for Pearl Jam who managed to help define grunge but never got defined by grunge in return. Even when the movement died they lived on because they had a commitment to the music. As I'm writing this they're putting the finished touches on another album having ridden high on the success of 2009's Backspacer which hit No1 in the US. They're into their third decade as a band and showing no signs of slowing down or selling out.

Ten is one of the album's which helped to save music from the eighties. It helped to return the focus of rock away from the image and back onto the music. Grunge was about good songs played well and not pretty people dressed expensively. The songs on Ten are still relevant twenty years later because they're good tunes, passionately played by talented people. Vedder can really sing and the band can really play.

In the years since this hit the shops,  Pearl Jam have released music this good again and have never sold out. They've continued to play two-hour plus live show with varied setlists that showcase their own ability and not the talents of their lighting designers or video editors. They were relevant in 1991 because they loved to play together and had something to say. Two decades later they might have enough money to buy the stadiums they perform in but they still love to play and feel they've got a voice that needs to be heard.

I enjoy Ten but never listen to it. Instead I'm more interested in hearing any one of a number of Pearl Jam live releases they've put out over the years which take the songs and give them a further push. Ten is great if you want to appreciate the sorely needed kick in the teeth rock required after the eighties but if you want to enjoy the best Pearl Jam has to offer seek out a live album.

Highlight: Even Flow
Lowlight: Deep

Influenced by: Neil Young
Influenced: Grunge

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "The guitar solos are too virtuous, and the fact that the album cover is pink always bothered me."

-I can't understand how anyone's complaint can be that a guitar solo is too good. As for worrying about the colour of the album cover... what's your point exactly?

So do you give this album a ten or a lot less? Let me know below.

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