Overrated, Underrated, or Properly Rated: Pearl Jam
October 28, 2013 4:29 PM   Subscribe

 
Someone has to stop Grantland from doing these pseudo-Sabremetric style reviews of cultural things. It's tedious as hell.
posted by awfurby at 4:49 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't imagine having strong feelings about Pearl Jam one way or the other. I was smack dab in the middle of their ideal demographic when Ten hit big, but their music has always just kind of...been there...like white noise in the background of life. I never really like it, but I never really dislike it, either. So I suppose they're properly rated.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:55 PM on October 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


I remember how hard MTV pushed them; someone really wanted to break this band big
posted by thelonius at 4:57 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I consider "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" to be the grunge "Stairway to Heaven." The rest of the output by Stone Gossard8 and Jeff Ament's seminal precursor to Pearl Jam sounds like Warrant covering Nothing's Shocking. An important trial run, perhaps, but still a trial run. OVERRATED.

He's right, except NOT WARRANT YOU TAKE THAT BACK YOU SON OF A BITCH.

So, funny story. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden released albums right about the same time, and when they came out, I regarded Pearl Jam has being the better band and the one I'd be listening to through the decades to come.

Boy howdy was I wrong. Sure, SG broke up but Chris Cornell has been amazingly prolific and awesome and Pearl Jam.. They lost me with that "Where oh were could my baby be" song that is just so much compressed suck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:58 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, the guy I met during my my first week at university (Sept. '92) who told me they were going to be our generation's Rolling Stones really wasn't too far off.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:59 PM on October 28, 2013


I can't imagine having strong feelings about Pearl Jam one way or the other.

Same. I'm only familiar with a couple of PJ albums. But I found this to be an entertaining read, nonetheless.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:00 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


*shrugs*

I will probably never buy a Pearl Jam record, but I'll go see them every time they play nearby. On album they're resolutely meh but live they're quite good.

Being a Pearl Jam fan must be like really, really liking vanilla ice cream; there's nothing WRONG with vanilla ice cream, in fact it's delicious, but declaring it your FAVORITE ice cream seems odd.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:07 PM on October 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I just saw them last night in Baltimore. Took my 10 year old daughter for her 1st show, it was my 13th.
It felt like, not a passing, but a sharing of a torch. The coolest thing was I was not the only one there with their kids
posted by ShawnString at 5:08 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I always have a fuzzy feelings about Pearl Jam because even though I'm not really the target demo for their music, it was always amusing to see Eddie Vedder walking around Seattle in a Richard Nixon mask. I sort of felt that their ascendance was when grunge started shifting more over into bro-music. Even though Pearl Jam were pretty righteous dudes, a lot of the people who really liked their shows were not the usual scrubs who liked a lot of the other Soundgarden/Nirvana stuff, at the time. More jockish, less twitchy (not that there's anythign wrong with that)

I saw them at that free freakshow Drop in the Park (where they registered 3000 people to vote) with Cypress Hill and Robert Anton Wilson (?) and it was a really really good time. They put on a great stage show which is one of the things in this article I really agree with: Pearl Jam is known as one of the best live acts in its arena-filling weight class.
posted by jessamyn at 5:09 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The first three albums contain so much greatness that they're all I need from the band - especially Vitalogy which is brilliant enough that I can overlook the solipsistic, audience-alienating experiments - but everything from No Code on is mostly disposable, as far as I'm concerned. Either I outgrew the band or we drifted apart, but I'm shedding no tears. As far as their greatest songs, I'm going with "Rearviewmirror" and "Corduroy", both of which would end up on my theoretical Greatest of the 90's list.
posted by naju at 5:10 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to be that guy about it, but I'm over it. Pearl Jam is fine, even with Eddie Vedder singing only vowels. Vastly worse things came out of the 1990s, and few better.

But, sorry, Eddie, the Cubs will never go all the way. Hey. Sucks, but there it is.
posted by eriko at 5:18 PM on October 28, 2013


All I know is their new album is a fucking monster. Seriously.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:20 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


declaring it your FAVORITE

I met someone recently for whom Pearl Jam is, indeed, her favorite band. That's fine, of course - but I recall thinking, at the time, "Huh. They're still going?" It seemed so strange. In my personal history Pearl Jam are solidly characteristic of 1992, and it's weird to see them pretty much unchanged over twenty years later.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:30 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had thought about posting a link to the creepy nihilistic Do The Evolution video in the debt ceiling thread, after I saw them in Worcester 2 weeks ago. Now I have a better reason!

New album is pretty good, but the songs really take off live.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:38 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


From albums to drummers to hats

Related Post.
posted by klausman at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2013


I just noticed in that MTV Unplugged video of "Porch".....after Eddie fell off the stool....did dude invent planking??
posted by nevercalm at 5:43 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I respect them more than I've ever really loved them or even liked them. Something to do with just not buying into Eddie Vedder's blues, or whatever's at the heart of all that deep and sincere and diamphragmatic emoting. I guess I'm just forever cursed by that girl who said, way back in around 1992, "It sounds like he's really constipated."

But Do The Evolution is a hell of a song. Also, Wishlist.

I guess I like them best when they're being atypical, whatever that means.
posted by philip-random at 5:45 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


i like their early stuff - but i found it really, really hard to take when they covered "last kiss"

come on, what kind of band resurrects dreck like that?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:50 PM on October 28, 2013


True facts, Pearl Jam was the band both me and my Mom liked, excepting Madonna, cause ..solo act and everyone likes Madonna that doesn't count.
posted by The Whelk at 5:51 PM on October 28, 2013


I am properly bowled over by the last track on Backspacer, 'The End'. Just a beautiful song, with exquisitely heartfelt and soulful vocals.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:55 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Eddie used to channel Joe Cocker in his spasticity. Nowadays he's turning into Springsteen.

Same shirts. Same posture while playing guitar. Same 3-hour shows. Same beard.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:56 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back in the day, I thought of Nirvana as the 90s version of the Beatles, and Pearl Jam as the 90s version of the Stones. I think that history has vindicated my view.

Also, in this analogy, Soundgarden is probably, oh, I don't know, maybe the Kinks.
posted by jscalzi at 5:59 PM on October 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


All those vocal harmonies on the Nirvana records do remind one of The Beatles, yes.
posted by thelonius at 6:00 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


That analogy is pretty spot-on, jscalzi.
posted by saul wright at 6:01 PM on October 28, 2013


Pearl Jam has been in the front lines of freely sharing their live music (and they do it so well!) they will always have a special place in my heart.
posted by maggieb at 6:02 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also teenage me thought Eddie Veder was like, unreasonably attractive.

Yes I know I have mental problems.
posted by The Whelk at 6:03 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


All this and he doesn't rate Eddie singing with the Doors for their induction in the RNR Hall of Fame? This review: OVERRATED.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:09 PM on October 28, 2013


I have to say, Lightning Bolt has a bit of the thing going on with it that Binaural and Riot Act had going on for me -- utterly impenetrable at first, then around the 5th listen something reaches out and grabs me, and so I keep listening, and then all these hooks fly out of the album and latch onto different parts of my psyche and don't let go and force me to keep listening as I find deeper and deeper appreciation for the album as a whole.

In short, Pearl Jam are the Cenobites of rock music. They have such music to show you!
posted by hippybear at 6:13 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


In short, Pearl Jam are the Cenobites of rock music.

I was waiting for you to show up and vigorously defend Pearl Jam, hippybear. I just wasn't expecting this.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:19 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


*laugh* I don't feel I have anything to defend. They are an amazing band who has created music and lyrics which have driven my life for decades at this point, and they have a fan base which shows I am not alone.

At the end of November, I have tickets to see PJ on their current tour, down in the SRO GA section, which is right in front of the stage and which only had tickets available for fan club members. I have waited many many years for this opportunity, and it will be an amazing night. I won't be standing next to some guy who only knows Ten shouting "Hey, play that song that is one of the only three that I know by you guys!"

I love the new album. I can't wait for this concert.

Those who don't like Pearl Jam, I get that. They are a dense text which was deliberately self-obfuscating for more than a few years. But they managed to dial themselves back from ultra-mega-stardom to the point of popularity where they feel comfortable. And they seem content to occupy that space for as long as they can keep going. I can't ask for anything more from any band I love deeply -- that they keep going, and they keep feeding my life and guiding my soul with music new and old.

I'm sorry... what were you saying?
posted by hippybear at 6:26 PM on October 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


That's more like it.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:29 PM on October 28, 2013


I like Pearl Jam just fine, though I don't listen to them. I've always appreciated Vedder's politics (I remember him writing "pro-choice" on his arm in felt pen during the MTV acoustic show). He slow danced with Kurt Cobain at the MTV Video Awards; I watched the performances live and recorded them (I probably still have the videotape somewhere). Unlike The Whelk, I was a grown adult when I first saw a Pearl Jam video, and I also found him, like, unreasonably attractive. I was particularly taken with his version of Masters of War at the Bob Dylan tribute show in 1992 (?). In short, land of contrasts, etc.
posted by jokeefe at 6:37 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Back in the day, I thought of Nirvana as the 90s version of the Beatles, and Pearl Jam as the 90s version of the Stones.

no, oasis was the 90s version of the beatles and the black crowes were the 90s version of the stones

if you prefer nirvana and pearl jam, i can't really blame you

soundgarden weren't the kinks, they were led zeppelin, quite consciously

mercury rev were pink floyd - or gong - or something - god, i love those first two albums ... that part in chasing a bee where the guitar just explodes - i've never played that for someone without them jumping and looking at the speakers like they might be blowing up
posted by pyramid termite at 6:41 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Soundgarden is probably, oh, I don't know, maybe the Kinks.

"We are the Black Hole Sun Preservation Society. God bless Drop D tune, Chuck Taylors, and Kennedy!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:42 PM on October 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


If the 60s were the 90s, I'm pretty sure the Kinks become Blur.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:43 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


But Beautiful People's brilliant album built entirely out of Hendrix samples, If 60s Were 90s, has little or no Pearl Jam connection.*

*aside from me loving it.
posted by hippybear at 6:49 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


black crowes were the 90s version of the stones

I always thought Royal Trux made a much better 90s Stones.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:08 PM on October 28, 2013


Why do people not like their cover of "Last Kiss"? Or are the people that don't like it just more vocal (2 negatives and no positives so far)?

Honest question. I really love it. It tugs at my heart strings.

[if it helps to place my musical taste a little more, I like Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains all a lot more than Pearl Jam]
posted by 3FLryan at 7:08 PM on October 28, 2013


I remember liking 'Last Kiss' when it came out. But if you asked me to hum it now, I couldn't do it. Perhaps people who don't like it are comparing it with the original? I've never heard the original, so I just liked it on its own merits.

I also like Billy Idol's version of 'Heroin' more than the Velvet Underground's original, so there's that.

I'm probably not helping here.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:12 PM on October 28, 2013


Why do people not like their cover of "Last Kiss"?

i'm old enough to remember the original on am radio - icky, icky, icky

why didn't they just go whole hog and cover bobby goldsboro's "honey", too?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:14 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really grew to hate Ten, but Vs. and No Code are both really great, and I remember liking Yield a lot too.

They're in this weird place for me where I've got a lot of their albums, but somehow, I never get around to ripping them.

I'd also go for "Properly rated," but from seeing the number of things the article claimed were underrated, we might rate Pearl Jam in different places.

Anyway, I'm glad they're around but don't pay much attention to them, like fluoride in water.
posted by klangklangston at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saw them live last Monday. Fantastic show.

> Why do people not like their cover of "Last Kiss"? Or are the people that don't like it just more vocal (2 negatives and no positives so far)?

I've never seen anyone express this sentiment other than this thread.
posted by tnecniv at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2013


in other words, i really HATE that song - and just when i'd forgotten it, pearl jam had to dig up its corrupt, vile corpse and reanimate it

i have to post "i want my baby back" just to rid myself of the horrible memories
posted by pyramid termite at 7:19 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pearl Jam strikes me as being the most exactly perfectly correctly "rated" band of all time. Each of their albums has received exactly as much attention as it deserves, IMO. Ten was hugely popular with good reason, and then it's diminishing returns from that point on, both in quality and accolades.

black crowes were the 90s version of the stones


The Rolling Stones were the 90s version of the Rolling Stones.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:21 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was a really big PJ fan in my youth. I still love Ten as an album, and pretty much everything up until Binaural is still playable. After that I've been consistently unimpressed with their albums. I'm not sure if it's that I've become older (I was 25 when Binaural came out) or they've just become less impressive, or both, but I don't listen to anything after Vs. these days. Perhaps it's just the familiarity that I like...not sure.

I really like Sirens off the new album, but the rest is just...meh. There's so much more interesting stuff to spend your time on.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:22 PM on October 28, 2013


Think of the most overplayed song you ever heard, one that you might have liked the first time you heard it, one that followed you around on radio, tv, elevator muzak. Well, that is what the first Last Kiss became for some of us and we never got over it.
posted by maggieb at 7:27 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, you weren't alive during the horrific reign of Sinead O'Connor's cover of "Nothing Compares 2 U", then...
posted by hippybear at 7:30 PM on October 28, 2013


i was too busy listening to the other tracks on that album
posted by pyramid termite at 7:31 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just seem to love everything uncool. :-|
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:33 PM on October 28, 2013


The thing about Last Kiss is, it was never intended as a single release. It was a soundcheck recording put out as a fan club Christmas Single that was also donated to a fundraising album. It was truly the public interest and popularity of the song which led to it becoming an official single and achieving the overplay status it retains to this day.
posted by hippybear at 7:35 PM on October 28, 2013


Heh. Wow. List of car crash songs (also includes motorcycle crashes).

The article for teenage tragedy songs is in desperate need of examples, by the way...
posted by Sys Rq at 7:35 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I came to the same "The Rolling Stones of Generation X" conclusion* about PJ when I saw them on their 2009 Backspacer tour. They obviously still have a long way to go to equal the Stones' longevity, but both bands do fit the template of (a) early stratospheric success, (b) some time in the wilderness, (c) cruising into a holding pattern of releasing solid new material for many years, and selling out arenas consistently.

Pink Floyd was the first band I really fell in love with once I was enough to develop my own taste in music, but most of their best material predated my childhood, and I was only able to see them live on one tour before they fizzled out, so it's really great to have an act like Pearl Jam come out of the 90s grunge movement and still be releasing good new records and playing sold-out high-energy live shows.

I have some quibbles with Hyden's ratings, but he does highlight a point that many people making the "vanilla ice cream" analogy might not understand, which is that the band put out some excellent material in their "holding pattern" phase, and though I doubt listening to the more recent stuff is going to change anyone's mind, the last handful of albums have high points that belong in the same tier as some of the band's best output from the 90s.

Slightly under-the-radar gems that Hyden doesn't mention from the last 10-ish years: "Save You", "Parachutes", "Come Back", "Force of Nature", "My Father's Son", "Pendulum".
posted by tonycpsu at 7:35 PM on October 28, 2013


The article for teenage tragedy songs is in desperate need of examples, by the way...

scroll down - they're all there
posted by pyramid termite at 7:38 PM on October 28, 2013


Huh, Last Kiss is supposed to be the PJ song that people who don't like PJ like, it's still everywhere.

I mean I like it for what it is, a melodramatic 50s story song, and I love story songs, it's just huh, very not offensive.
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 PM on October 28, 2013


I love their cover of "Last Kiss". There's just something wonderful about one of the world's most popular bands, at the peak of their popularity, doing a straight, respectful cover of an absolutely maudlin dreck of a song.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:39 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slightly under-the-radar gems that Hyden doesn't mention from the last 10-ish years: "Save You", "Parachutes", "Come Back", "Force of Nature", "My Father's Son", "Pendulum".

Love Boat Captain. It all boils down to that for me. Love Boat fuckin' Captain.
posted by hippybear at 7:40 PM on October 28, 2013


soundgarden weren't the kinks, they were led zeppelin, quite consciously


Sorry kids. The Cult was Led Zeppelin. I'm now supposed to say your favorite bands all suck or something like that, but I'll just keep that to myself.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:44 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


And Stone Temple Pilots were...I dunno, Deep Purple?
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:50 PM on October 28, 2013


Even though I grew up right in PJ's prime, I was never into them (or alternative) much. But I have done in the last five years. Great live acts also hold sway with me and they are terrific, partly because of their performance, but also because the way the crowd engages them and vice versa. Maybe I'm a sucker, but being in the crowd when Eddie lets them sing the whole first verse of Better Man is the shit.

...And The Pixies were The Kinks of the 90s.
posted by dry white toast at 7:53 PM on October 28, 2013


Vanilla ice cream has a bad reputation just because it's white. Vanilla is just as much as real flavor as strawberry.
posted by goethean at 7:54 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I came to the same "The Rolling Stones of Generation X" conclusion*

the problem with all these Rolling Stones comparisons is that, in their prolonged moment (1965 or thereabouts through 1972), the Stones truly were the best rock and roll band on the planet. The same does not hold true for Pearl Jam in their moment. They weren't even the best rock and roll band in the Lollapalooza I saw in 1992. That would have to go to Soundgarden, or maybe The Jesus + Mary Chain, or Ministry. Pearl Jam were like the Grand Funk Railroad of that event. Clearly they were doing something to get the tweens in the crowd going ... but it wasn't exactly translating to the older kids.
posted by philip-random at 8:01 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, sorry, Eddie, the Cubs will never go all the way.

No way, man. The Chicago Cubs will beat every team in the league!
posted by kenko at 8:07 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Possibly, but not in close enough succession for it to get them to the post-season.
posted by hippybear at 8:24 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Given their love of (totally awesome) covers of songs by the Who, I would figure that would be the natural slot for Pearl Jam, except the whole longevity thing gets in the way.

I've got the misfortune to have never seen them live, but I'd love to. I love a lot of their music, but goddamn, their live covers are amazing.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:31 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck these dudes. I remember sitting through hours of brutal Vinnie Vincent and Bon Jovi videos hoping Headbanger's Ball would eventually get around to the one Kreator or Sacred Reich song they sometimes let slip by only to be drowned in the weekly water torture of "Alive"
posted by SharkParty at 8:33 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


My (future, now current) wife thought it was sexy when I sang Alive in my old cover band, so thanks Eddy for that, and apparently, I do a pretty strong impersonation.

The fretless bass on Black is a thing of beauty, and Vs. is a raw & powerful record made human by its rough edges. I didn't get Vitology (covering Better Man made me physically ill) so I stopped listening at that point. Didn't know Soundgarden's drummer had taken up with them, so I will have to revisit.

The Black Crowes are the 90's Faces and damn near as good.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:33 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]




I don't think I could hum you any of the songs I've heard on the playlist so far, but I can't say listening to it has been unpleasant. Was surprised not to see "Betterman" even mentioned, but maybe that one got even more overplayed than the accident ballad.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:39 PM on October 28, 2013


That comic reminds me that the other day I saw a girl who looked to be 12 or 13 wearing a Nirvana shirt. Guess that makes them The Doors, who were big with kids that age in the late '80s.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:41 PM on October 28, 2013


Ooh, this is fun.

Matchbox 20 were the Jefferson Airplane of the 90s.

Smashmouth were the 1910 Fruitgum Company of the 90s.

Crazy Town were the Strawberry Alarm Clock of the 90s.

So I guess Slint were the Velvet Underground of the 90s.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:47 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Came here for "Do the Evolution". Perfect collaboration with the Batman:TAS animators.
posted by anthill at 8:50 PM on October 28, 2013


Pearl Jam were never the Stones. They were the Bad Company of the 90's, though.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:51 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Black Crowes are the 90's Faces and damn near as good.

except they didn't have a Stay With Me ...
posted by philip-random at 8:54 PM on October 28, 2013


Sometimes I wish I was into Pearl Jam like I used to wish I was into the Grateful Dead. The consensus for both bands seems to be that they're in their element in concert.

I wish I had it in me to be a fan.

"Now I don't believe in nothing no more. I'm going to law school."
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:01 PM on October 28, 2013


Ten and Nevermind and Superunknown and, ahem, Zooropa, are the first four albums I could honestly say I ever really truly "discovered" myself, as in had the money for and went out and bought on cassette after hearing various singles on Triple J. Prior to that I didn't really care that much about music, though we had plenty of old records from my brothers and sisters that I would listen to. Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep and Neil Young were my mainstays there.

Anyway, yeah, Pearl Jam, one of my first bands. I grew up listening to Ten and Vs. Vitalogy I actually bought on release day. Then No Code came out and holy shit was that a kick in the balls: a sixty-minute yawn.

PJ has had maybe five or six good songs since then. Lightning Bolt is completely sterile, unmemorable, greyscale dad-rock (though, I guess "Getaway" has a little bit of that old PJ twist and jive).

Sometimes I think, "What would Kurt Cobain be doing now?" I like to imagine he would have gone all Radiohead, or just fucking super-dark sludge. But the closest thing we've got to Kurt Cobain is Eddie Vedder (or Daniel Johns lol), and he went all supermarket/Volkswagen advert music. So, shit, I dunno.

Also, again for the record, Abruzezze drummer is best PJ drummer.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:20 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my most beloved PJ songs is Yellow Ledbetter which is funny because I can't understand more than few words of the lyrics.
posted by maggieb at 9:23 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are few things in pop culture that I am quietly and consistently devoted to and Pearl Jam is one of those. I sort of agree with the notion that they are rated just right; I can depend on them to produce albums with a sound I love and songs that mean something, even if they're not explosive. And Vedder comes across as someone who'd be okay to be thought of that way. He's never wanted to be outrageous.

Every one of their songs is entirely listenable . . . except that Last Kiss song.

And I'm on board with those who find him attractive. He's tied with James McAvoy and Sherman Alexie as my back-up BFs.
posted by weeyin at 9:42 PM on October 28, 2013


One of my most beloved PJ songs is Yellow Ledbetter which is funny because I can't understand more than few words of the lyrics.

Nobody can. The lyrics were all improvised during the take. Even Eddie doesn't really know what they were, originally.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The rest of the output by Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament's seminal precursor to Pearl Jam sounds like Warrant covering Nothing's Shocking.

Hah! Perfect. Mother Love Bone just wasn't very goddamned good, and (in my humble and distant-hazy memory), but that one song was pretty great. And I've never really understood the Andrew Wood hagiography, mostly because he pissed me off by stealing a bottle of peppermint schnapps from me at Graceland in Vancouver one time and I'm petty about booze-thievery. I guess maybe it was an off night for him or something.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:52 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Back in the day, I thought of Nirvana as the 90s version of the Beatles, and Pearl Jam as the 90s version of the Stones. I think that history has vindicated my view.

All those vocal harmonies on the Nirvana records do remind one of The Beatles, yes.


Aside from the fact that this is completely missing the point, you're right: there are some great vocal harmonies on Nirvana's records, and Kurt Cobain was strongly influenced by the Beatles.
posted by John Cohen at 9:58 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one band that always gets left out of these discussions: Screaming Trees. Next to State of Love and Trust, Nearly Lost You is pretty much the best grunge song.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:03 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Singles soundtrack has to be in the top 20 film soundtracks. Captured that moment perfectly.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:05 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The one band that always gets left out of these discussions:

My Bloody Valentine ...
posted by philip-random at 10:07 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


My Bloody Valentine resists your feeble attempt to categorize them as a 90s band, foolish mortal
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:28 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The one band that always gets left out of these discussions: Blind Melon. Such a tight group they had. If we're doing this, they were the Grateful Dead of the 90s in my humble opinion.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:41 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I moved to Seattle in 1998, when the backlash against grunge was well in its prime. At least there was a backlash in the Midwest. In Seattle it just sort of hit me one day that "hey, Pearl Jam is still around, still this local Seattle band." And they had fans. Big time. When they played a show around 1999 downtown, it was a big deal for a lot of people, including several co-workers. They are still a big source of completely un-ironic fandom to this day there.
posted by zardoz at 11:11 PM on October 28, 2013


I really grew to hate Ten, but Vs. and No Code are both really great, and I remember liking Yield a lot too.

This, in a nutshell, sums up my feelings about the PJ catalogue.

Sometimes I think, "What would Kurt Cobain be doing now?

I don't have a source because it's something I read years ago probably in book or print article form, but there was something about how Nirvana had broken up because Kurt didn't want to make straight live music anymore. He was interested in what Butthole Surfers were moving into, collage/sample style with guitar and drum loops.
posted by mannequito at 1:50 AM on October 29, 2013


Pearl Jam continues to tour because that's what makes them a great band - their performances.
I totally dig on why Hippybear is so excited - Pearl Jam puts on great shows.
Good music and a ton of fun.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:20 AM on October 29, 2013


I fall outside the "Hunger Strike Bracket"?

Hurts me. *touches heart*
posted by humboldt32 at 2:46 AM on October 29, 2013


Do The Evolution is the best music video.
posted by fraxil at 4:05 AM on October 29, 2013


The one band that always gets left out of these discussions: Blind Melon.

Yeah, but they were more of a hippie throwback thing that just happened to get airplay alongside the Grunge bands on the "alternative" stations.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:11 AM on October 29, 2013


except they didn't have a Stay With Me ...

Who in the fuck has? Nobody. I think the Crowes copped their vibe pretty well on the first couple albums, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:14 AM on October 29, 2013


Blind Melon

There were lots of gourd-oriented band names in this era, for some reason. I think I'll start a 90's cover band and call it "Sister Cantaloupe".
posted by thelonius at 4:18 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'll chip in...

Liz Phair was the Nancy Sinatra of the '90s.
And maybe contradicting the above to say it, but Prince was the Frank Sinatra of the '90s.
Tad was... uh. I got nothin'.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor was the Source Family of the '90s.
Yo La Tengo was The Band of the '90s.
posted by ardgedee at 4:36 AM on October 29, 2013


I seem to remember rumors that Cobain was tired of Nirvana, and wanting to start up an REM style band. It's odd, I've seen Nirvana, but not Pearl Jam live, but I always liked Pearl Jam more. Then again, Nirvana came to Kalamazoo, Pearl Jam didn't.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:50 AM on October 29, 2013


Clearly I remember clicking on the thread
What a harmless little post
posted by Renoroc at 5:04 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we at least agree that Radiohead is the Pink Floyd of the 90s?
posted by oulipian at 5:15 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pearl Jam were like the Grand Funk Railroad of that event. Clearly they were doing something to get the tweens in the crowd going ... but it wasn't exactly translating to the older kids.

Try listening to Grand Funk Railroad again. I'm having no translation problems.
posted by ersatz at 5:59 AM on October 29, 2013


oasis was the 90s version of the beatles

That was the prevailing mythology at the time, but I didn't buy it then, and I don't buy it now. They just weren't that popular, at least in America.

Also, "You Are" is probably my favorite Pearl Jam song. It's really got that whole "dusty highway" thing going.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:20 AM on October 29, 2013


Like many people, I stopped paying attention to PJ after Vs., but this was an entertaining read. In fact, this article and this thread make me curious to revisit some of their later work (I really didn't care for Vitalogy)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:23 AM on October 29, 2013


Well, thanks for this post. I have now listened to Vs. for the very first time, and while I only recognized tracks 2,3,4 and 10 from radio over the years, I thought the whole thing was pretty awesome. Great time capsule for me.

By the way, I remember first hearing Pearl Jam on a Concrete Corner sampler tape at my local record shop. It was pretty much the main way I discovered newer harder music in my town.
posted by klausman at 6:29 AM on October 29, 2013


why didn't they just go whole hog and cover bobby goldsboro's "honey", too?

Regardless of your feelings about "Last Kiss" (personally I liked it but I can see the other side), we don't joke about shit like that where I'm from. "Honey" and Mike Douglas' "Man in My Little Girl's Life" are reserved solely for the torture of foreign nationals. And friends of friends.

Pearl Jam hit my freshman year in college. Being that age I strove mightily to dislike them which in no way helped me get laid. Over the years I've come to like them and a lot of their newer stuff has worked for me. All that said, I did get a perverse amount of pleasure when some hardcore fan came in to play their copy of "Yellow Ledbetter" and then I put on whichever track from Axis: Bold as Love the riff's stolen from and ruined their day.
posted by yerfatma at 6:48 AM on October 29, 2013


"Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" was the "Gangnam Style" of the 70s.

(I'm still trying to get a hold on all this MeFi stuff. Analogies are odious.)
posted by Chitownfats at 7:07 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


oasis was the 90s version of the beatles

That was the prevailing mythology at the time, but I didn't buy it then, and I don't buy it now. They just weren't that popular, at least in America.


They were also not that great at writing songs or playing their instruments. They got a Beatles-amount of hype though, so maybe their manager was the Brian Epstein of the 90's.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:08 AM on October 29, 2013


... Analogies are odious.)

Metafilter: Putting the anal back in analogy.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:09 AM on October 29, 2013


I read this the other day and they def bring up some great points…I saw it when I saw PJ a few years ago, and the whole "parking lot" culture that was there.

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20131023-pearl-jam-the-new-grateful-dead
posted by ShawnString at 7:23 AM on October 29, 2013


I thought we had corralled all those kids at Phish & String Cheese Incident shows.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:36 AM on October 29, 2013


All that said, I did get a perverse amount of pleasure when some hardcore fan came in to play their copy of "Yellow Ledbetter" and then I put on whichever track from Axis: Bold as Love the riff's stolen from and ruined their day.

That would be "Little Wing."
posted by entropicamericana at 8:00 AM on October 29, 2013


Thanks, I was too lazy to look up "Yellow Ledbetter". If the article includes Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike", why no love for "Against the '70s"?
posted by yerfatma at 8:11 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The extent of my appreciation for PJ is and always has been the opening riff of Alive. Beyond that it's muddled, mumbly, mainstream 90's rock and offstage broody posturing. They always struck me as a band that was trying too hard and never having fun.
I'd say that makes them the Doors of the 90's, but I kind of like the Doors.
posted by rocket88 at 8:50 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


All this, and no mention of Mudhoney, i.e. the Stooges of the '90s?
posted by AJaffe at 10:24 AM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


But Beautiful People's brilliant album built entirely out of Hendrix samples, If 60s Were 90s yt , has little or no Pearl Jam connection.*

I was the other person who bought this album. At the time I thought it was The Future. I can't bear to click on that link in case I have cringe induced stroke.
posted by Brian Lux at 10:38 AM on October 29, 2013


*Definitely* underrated. For about three months in 1991.
posted by nowhere man at 11:06 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]



Eddie Vedder's vocals is a musical instrument on its own. Man, can he sing. Pearl Jam rocks. Yup, underrated....definitely underrated.
posted by asra at 11:12 AM on October 29, 2013




So this is a fun game. Enlighten me, please: who are Trent Reznor and Al Jourgenson the late '80s/90s versions of?
posted by riverlife at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2013


Blixa Bargeld?

But not as good.
posted by philip-random at 2:35 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blixa Bargeld?

Okay. Bad analogy. I just wanted to post that clip.

It's actually hard to find a proto-NIN/Ministry analogy that isn't just earlier industrial music like Einsturzende Neubauten or Throbbing Gristle ... unless you want to go back to the early punks or even the Stooges who genuinely were pushing things to the edge of noise, and yet they weren't exactly innovating with the technology much.
posted by philip-random at 2:41 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eddie Vedder drinks bile beer.

That's MeFi's Own™ Tube in there also.
posted by jessamyn at 3:13 PM on October 29, 2013


PJ contra Soundgarden, especially live? HAH! Purchase or hoick Live on I-5 and come to the one true vision. Better drummer, better lead singer and arguably better bassist. Meh on PJ.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:41 PM on October 29, 2013


The one band that always gets left out of these discussions: Blind Melon. Such a tight group they had. If we're doing this, they were the Grateful Dead of the 90s in my humble opinion.

That was Phish (totes obvs). Blind Melon were Big Brother & the Holding Company, which is to say, good.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:12 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


So this is a fun game. Enlighten me, please: who are Trent Reznor and Al Jourgenson the late '80s/90s versions of?

Suzi Quatro and Roy Wood, respectively.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:20 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suzi Quatro and Roy Wood

The latter I can grok. The former...my brain is breaking and delighting at Trent Reznor being compared to her, and vice-versa.

Sort of back on topic: who was the 60's proto-Green River?
posted by riverlife at 5:00 PM on October 29, 2013


CCR
posted by philip-random at 6:16 PM on October 29, 2013




The Trent Reznor/Suzi Quatro comparison just gave me the strangest boner. I'm delighted.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:30 AM on October 30, 2013


Bono is the fat Elvis of the 90s.
posted by goethean at 11:04 AM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the 90s were the 60s - Britpop edition. [self-link, scanned from the November 1995 Select magazine.]
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:43 PM on October 31, 2013


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