Pearl Jam
Ten


5.0
classic

Review

by jordan. CONTRIBUTOR (56 Reviews)
March 1st, 2014 | 63 replies | 3,486 views


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Control Myself, CHAPTER 1: “What the Fuck is This World Running to…?”

Were it not for the rise of heroin that occurred in the late ‘80s among the lower and middle classes, it is likely that Pearl Jam never would have been born, and what would’ve been globally renowned would be the neo-glam act Mother Love Bone. Fronted by the charismatic Andrew Wood, along with Soundgarden Seattle had preeminent acts that were set to blow up the world, raising hype in the pages of Kerrang! and Metal Hammer alike. Branching off from what heavy metal had cornered itself to become, these were bands ready to show off sexuality in a way that was more than just hedonistic; undeniably, it was primal. However, fate had a different idea.

19th March, 1990. That was the day Andy Wood passed onto the next life. After only days of struggling with a major overdose, Wood had made the worse mistake any heroin junkie can- forgetting quantities of the drug are relative. Injecting himself with an already lethal dose he thought he could handle, Wood was robbed of all dignity and payed the price for his sin, facing either death or life confined to extreme disability and constant care. Chris Cornell himself reasons, “The death of the innocence of the scene wasn’t later when Cobain blew his head off. It was ***ing then, with Andy lying in that hospital bed”. As Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard knew, Mother Love Bone could not be continued without Wood’s necessary presence. With the band disbanded, Gossard and Ament were facing defeat in the eyes of success that they’d already experienced twice now in their career- motivation conflict in mid-‘80s punk-metal hybrid Green River left a band hyped for success floundering in minor cult interest.

For the most part, Gossard and Ament had retreated without wanting to continue music- certain personal situations left them to bum around Seattle for a while until they could work themselves up to play music again (something the two were both hesitant about even collaborating on). With the recruitment of Mike McCready, a guitarist who had faced similar failure while trying to launch his hair-metal outfit Shadow, the unnamed band quickly set to work on creating a demo tape of instrumentals with Matt Cameron to recruit a new singer. Not intent to get an Andy Wood or Mark Arm clone however, the band was looking for somebody new and different- an identity who could match Wood without copying him.

Gossard received the demo tape back with ‘Momma-Son’ inscribed where ‘Gossard Demo’ once was. Contained within were the early workings for “Once”, “Alive” and “Footsteps”, complete with a man who’s deep corrosive croon drew out an emotional response that not only matched but bettered that of Wood’s commanding personality. Enter Eddie Vedder.

Then titled Mookie Blaylock, the band got to work immediately and spontaneously on their debut masterpiece that would herald a new sound almost unheard of before (for the uninformed, ‘grunge’). As the drum shuffle and cold atmosphere launches forth on “Once”, Pearl Jam take hold in a way few bands ever can. Ferocity matched with pain, “Once” is a dark Springsteen-Nebraska way to open an album, the second part of the Momma-Son trilogy detailing the results of the young boys Oedipal abuse- now a serial killer intent on stalking and slaughtering lone prostitutes. The eastern riff that accompanies it is equally daunting, moving from minimal verses to the explosive and cathartic chorus. Showing off the riffs of Gossard and impressive leads on the part of McCready, Pearl Jam establish a fine tradition to open albums with no compromise, and “Once” is still the archetypal best.

While critics scrambled for ways to criticize Pearl Jam’s sound in light of their second live appearance, it’s difficult to understand in retrospect how the apparent influences of Bad Company and The Eagles were there (hint; they weren’t). Surely if they were referencing that, they were probably attempting to respond to the albums singles- most notably the funky and aggressive swagger of “Even Flow”. With its snake-hipped groove and incomprehensible lyricism, it earned the band a badge of discontent in the ‘90s if only for popularizing the oft imitated but poorly performed baritone drawl of Vedder. Needless to say, the likes of “Even Flow”, “Jeremy” and “Alive” have not aged quite as poorly as critics would have had you thought; now standing as early testaments to the bands well-formed and anthemic nature.

Disproving asinine erstwhile assessments aside, while Ten is arguably defined by its singles it’s its deep cuts that impress the most. With songs like “Porch”, Pearl Jam provide an unparalleled sense of mosh-ready fun amongst the Seattle scenes piss drab setting- live, the guitar duelling middle section provided an excellent canvas for Eddie Vedder to let loose against, most notably his pit diving antic off of a camera rig at the Pinkpop Festival (A more subdued ‘Pro-Choice’ incident can be found on the bands MTV Unplugged performance). On the more emotional side of things, the ever-present emotional melancholy of “Black” remains a fine piece of grunge nostalgia, thankfully never being tainted by MTV due to it never being released as a single. Its cruising soft touch and rising melodic power throughout lift it well above the likes of “Alive”, not least because of its sleeper status. The brilliant words Vedder penned are deeply touching, with the likes of, “Tattooed all I see/all that I am/all that I’ll be…” and, “I know you’ll be a star/in somebody else’s sky/but why?/but why?- can’t it be mine?” inspired deep emotional resonance amongst the bands fanbase. As the basis for many falling in love with Pearl Jam, it’s difficult to write Ten off as anything but a classic.

Everything about Ten sings perfection, and that’s even down to its least impressive moment, “Deep”. Reaching its cataclysmic final note on the epic “Release”, the “Master/Slave” instrumental that loops the record leaves time for recollection amongst the albums maelstrom of heavy rockers and carefully constructed ballads. Was it the emotional force of “Oceans” or “Garden” that brought you here? Or was it the propulsive tales of injustice that permeated “Jeremy” and “Why Go”? Or was it simply a desire for heavy hitting anthems such as “Alive” and “Even Flow”? Regardless, by reaching so many base’s and perfecting all of them, Pearl Jam have constructed an album that lives past childish name calling and satirical mockery. The unfortunate consequence of Ten however was that the band forever had to live up/down the legacy in an attempt to establish an identity beyond that of their debut. While the likes of Vs. and Vitalogy put up a valiant attempt, Pearl Jam’s career was forever littered with ongoing identity crisis’ and the question forever remaining, “But is it as good as Ten?”.

NEXT: “I Swear I Never Took Her for Granted…”



Recent reviews by this author
Slash World On FireU2 Songs of Innocence
The Kooks ListenRobert Plant Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar
Ryan Adams Ryan AdamsThe Vines Wicked Nature
user ratings (2673)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
March 1st 2014


2415 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I said I was going to hold off reviewing but I thought I might start my second series up instead, because it's a better alternative to sitting and reading my Management rubric for Uni. The Manic's series will return in the coming week, with hopefully the two series weaving together nicely. Feedback appreciated

Digging: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Pheromone
March 1st 2014


3500 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awful Summary

Digging: Carissa's Wierd - Songs About Leaving

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
March 1st 2014


2415 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the summary is like that because it's part of an ongoing series

ExcentrifugalForz
March 1st 2014


1723 Comments


is this a review or a biography?
either way
well done

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
March 1st 2014


2415 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's a critical discography of sorts. This is only the first of 10 chapters still to come

Ryus
March 1st 2014


2449 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album is overrated as hell

Green Baron
March 1st 2014


20000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nah

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

sapient
March 1st 2014


1991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

When did this get bumped to 4.4 woah

Digging: Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles

Green Baron
March 1st 2014


20000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sometime around February

NodScene23
March 1st 2014


264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I enjoyed how you interwove elements of history, pop culture, and song analysis into your review. Have a pos.

KriegdemKriege
March 1st 2014


1046 Comments


I'm giving a pos for the first sentence.

jtswope
March 1st 2014


2139 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"album is overrated as hell"

definitely not a 5 yeah

dannyboy89
March 1st 2014


11960 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Awesome review Arcade, very original.

Tunaboy45
March 1st 2014


2295 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great, original review for a great album.

Digging: Pink Floyd - Animals

SpookyNewGhostFiend
March 1st 2014


4 Comments


Great review, but not spooky enuffff!

YoYoMancuso
March 1st 2014


11080 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

wtf of all the albums to have a 4.4

dannyboy89
March 1st 2014


11960 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

A 3 YoYo??!!!

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
March 1st 2014


2415 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i see the criticism behind this aging poorly but i don't accept it. i think this, of the 'big 4 grunge albums', is the second best next to you-know-what.

greencorn5
March 1st 2014


199 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That is awesome that you are doing this. PJ is my all-time fav. You were pretty spot on with this one, looking forward to the rest of the series.

YoYoMancuso
March 1st 2014


11080 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

dannyboy read my 4.5 review from 2 years ago to help you deal with this trauma



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy