Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9: Pearl Jam, "Ten"

Artist: Pearl Jam
Album: Ten
Year: 1991
Label: Epic Associated

If I were to sum up Ten, in one word, it may very well be with the word “perfection.” As far as I am concerned, and some may argue (I can think of 3 people off the top of my head), Pearl Jam has never made a better record. That is not to say their other records are not good, but Ten stands tall above the rest.

Clocking in at just under an hour, Ten has a strange sense of urgency that was overall missing from music of the time. Screaming guitars playing massively catchy melodies combined with dark, yet determined lyrics, Ten gave the world a glimpse at just what was going on in the Seattle music scene.

…and of course, one cannot overlook the now iconic vocal work of Eddie Vedder. Vedder, who unknowingly replaced Jordan Knight and Bret Michaels posters across the country, has a voice that levels every listener the first time they hear him. His voice has the ability to stop you in your tracks with his opera-esque vocal delivery.

The opening quartet of songs on Ten (Once, Even Flow, Alive, Why Go) assault the listener like a heavyweight boxer who just won’t let up. Each song drops in at full speed and force and almost stares back at you to catch up. Walking the line between singing and screaming, Vedder’s vocals are nearly gibberish at some points. Truth be told, nearly all fans of this album have had to find the lyrics to understand just WHAT Eddie was singing.

The albums’ denouement (oh! A college word!), consisting of “Garden,” “Deep," and “Release” gives us a peek at the other side of this now legendary band. Moving to far more complex musical arrangements (while keeping the same dark subject matter), the band creates sonic landscapes that are almost out of place with the sheer “rock” of the albums’ first side.

Though Nirvana's Nevermind, gained far more critical acclaim, after nearly 2 decades of debate, there is very little argument that Ten is NOT the superior album. If you've somehow missed this record, do yourself a favor and go get it!

Standout tracks: "Alive." "Porch," and "Deep."

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