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Old 02-04-2013, 03:43 PM   #1
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Ranking Pearl Jam Albums

Top Tier:

1. Vitalogy - I feel that Vitalogy is Pearl Jam's best album. Start to finish it gives the listener a really strong and unique experience. The song writing is probably Eddie at his peak. The guitar tones are my favorite of any PJ album. The rockers rock. The ballads ballad. The "fillers" (although not very valuable in and of themselves) make the listening experience of the album as a whole make sense and they provide the perfect transitions when needed. Combine the music along with the album artwork, and you have PJ's most artistically complete project.

2. Ten - Song for song this ranks #1 for me. For the longest time I did rank this my favorite PJ album. One of the major reasons that I have Vitalogy ranked ahead on Ten is because Ten is clearly not the artistic piece that Vitalogy is, and I value that. When comparing the best songs on each of the albums Vitalogy has seven songs in my top 50 and Ten has four. Also, Ten has clearly not aged quite as well as Vitalogy. All that being said, Ten is still a monster of an album and one of the best debut albums of all time. I still love it but just not as much as Vitalogy.

3. Yield - Yield has also been my #1 in the past. With six songs in my top 50 and all but two in my top 90, it clearly has a special place in my heart. Yield is an album that I can put on and never feel the need to skip a song. When I introduce a friend to the band and they have mostly only heard the early PJ hits, Yield is usually where I start. DTE is my favorite rocker the band has ever written. Jack Irons is my favorite PJ drummer and I love his playing on Yield.

Mid Tier:

4. No Code - This album fluctuates some for me. I always knew that I LOVED many individual songs from this collection, I just regularly devalued that a bit because of a few stinker songs near the end of No Code. I have reevaluated my stance. The biggest change in my thought process is that my love for the good much out weighs the negative of the bad. Again, Jack's drumming also makes a big impact. Hearing No Code after the Vitalogy release was such a major change up for PJ, one that probably needed to happen to keep the band creative and moving forward. The album art and packaging adds to the experience.

5. Vs. - In my song for song rankings, this came in at my #2 PJ album. Vs. is a hard one for me to judge as a complete work. The reason it did so well song for song is that there are no songs in the mix that I don't really like individually. The hard part is that Vs. has become more about individual songs for me than an "album". I don't ever put on Vs. to listen from start to finish. I'll do a song or two here, then a song or two there, but never feel the need for much more. Artwork and packaging is cool but again it doesn't add much to the whole. It has however moved up one spot from where I had it placed in my last album rankings based on the strength of the songs.

6. Pearl Jam - I really like S/T but I found that the exact opposite was happening for me with this album as what was happening when I listened to No Code. I have been over-rating the album as a whole based on my particular enjoyment the best tracks (five songs in my top 32). The problem is that even those favorites aren't on the same level as No Code. Songs like Army Reserve, Unemployable and Severed Hand are great but they can't compete with Red Mosquito, Present Tense and In My Tree. Also, my lowest rated songs here come in slightly behind the lowest rated songs on No Code. I think part of my long appreciation for S/T is that it came directly after Riot Act (a bottom level PJ album for me) and I have been giving it "bonus points" for that.

Bottom Tier:

7. Binaural - I have found a new appreciation for Binaural. There still is a decent gap between my mid level albums and my bottom level, but Binaural has jumped a spot up in my rankings and closed the distance from itself and the bottom of my list significantly. One of the major reasons it has always ranked low for me is the crazy omission of songs from the original track list that would have made Binaural probably my fourth favorite album. I will never get how Sad, In The Moonlight, Education and Fatal were left out in favor of (in my opinion) far inferior songs. That being said, Sleight of Hand is probably the best song PJ has ever written. Nothing As It Seems has slowly climbed from a mid level PJ song to #30 on my list. Binaural's sonic experimentation boosts it's value as well.

8. Riot Act - Riot Act's over all value has started to fall in my mind. I've always ranked it ahead of Binaural and even considered moving it up another spot (potentially as high as sixth). The truth is there just aren't enough top tier songs on the album. Only one song (#25 You Are) ranks in my top 40. Only Backspacer has a #1 that ranks lower on my over all song list. There are plenty of "good" songs here that rank in the middle of the pack. Help Help, Cropduster, and I Am Mine are all examples. But there are some of my least favorite (non filler) album tracks too. I can't stand Get Right, Green Disease, and Ghost. Combine that with the fact that there isn't that one "classic" track, and I can't rank Riot Act higher then eighth.

9. Backspacer - Backspacer comes in last place, but believe it or not, it has gained a bit of respect in my mind. To my shock it actually ranked higher then Riot Act in my song for song comparison. That was something I never expected, and for that I appreciate it more then I did before. My major problem with Backspacer from its release till now is that it is by far the most bland album in PJs catalog. It is chalked full of okay and mostly unmemorable songs. There are a few songs that I still enjoy hearing from time to time, but there is no overall statement being made. There is no "wow" song in the lot. On the other hand there are no embarrassing songs on the album either (many would argue The Fixer here, but I don't hate it). The lows aren't as low as some tracks on other releases, specifically Riot Act, but the utter mediocrity of the album experience just leaves me feeling nearly nothing. This is the only PJ album I can listen to from beginning to end and say that I never feel much of an emotional response to any of it. For that reason more then any, I don't see how I can ever rank this ahead of any of the other PJ albums.
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
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Top 5 PJ

1. Ten
2. Vs.
3. Yield
4. Vitalogy
5. No Code
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:15 AM   #3
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I only have Ten and Vs. I find they take me forever to get in to. I will give Vitalogy a listen!
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:08 AM   #4
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From the 5 that I own:

1. Vs.
2. Riot Act
3. No Code
4. Ten
5. Vitalogy
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:48 PM   #5
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i hate pearl jam.
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