30 Years Of Ten
August 25, 2021 8:31 PM   Subscribe

August 25, 1991 -- Barely a year after coming together as a band, Pearl Jam released Ten [Wikipedia], their debut album. The release, supported by several hit singles (including one that basically broke MTV for a while) launched the band and is widely recognized as one of the top albums of all time. CD: Once, Even Flow [video], Alive [video], Why Go, Black, Jeremy [original video, uncensored MTV video], Oceans [video], Porch, Garden, Deep, Release - Master/Slave

Bonus Tracks: Wash, Dirty Frank, I've Got A Feeling

Bonus Reading: Tattooed Everything: 30 Years of Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’ [ArtistWaves, artists and friends of the band reflect on each track]

Bonus Listening: 2009 Reissue with New Mix By long-time PJ producer Brendan O'Brien [YT playlist]
posted by hippybear (44 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Never seen that Jeremy video. I have always assumed he was a shooter, not what happens. Will have to rethink now.
posted by Windopaene at 8:45 PM on August 25

Loved this album. Still do.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:49 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]

Oops, I left out Oceans [video].
posted by hippybear at 8:49 PM on August 25

I had a cassette of this album in the early nineties, and I played it so many times I wore it out.
posted by orange swan at 9:05 PM on August 25 [5 favorites]

Stood in a crowd of people at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert when some no-name un-billed opening act blew the doors off the place. I don’t even remember RHCP taking the stage that night because the whole audience spent the night talking about that opening act. Once people figured out who that band was, Ten was sold out everywhere for weeks afterward.
posted by etc. at 9:24 PM on August 25 [15 favorites]

Never seen that Jeremy video. I have always assumed he was a shooter, not what happens.

Not just you. From WikiP:
MTV restrictions on violent imagery prevented Pellington from showing Jeremy putting the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger at the climax of the video.[27] Ironically, the ambiguous close-up of Jeremy at the end of the edited video, combined with the defensive posture of Jeremy's classmates and the large amount of blood, led many viewers to believe that the video ended with Jeremy shooting his classmates, not himself.[27] In 1997, Rolling Stone described the song and video as depicting an unpopular student bringing a gun to class and shooting people.[29]
(It's misleading to describe the Uncensored version as the MTV version.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:34 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]

(It's misleading to describe the Uncensored version as the MTV version.)

I spent literally 15 minutes crawling through pages and revised search terms to find the MTV version because my wording was "original video, MTV video, uncensored video"

If you can f'ing find the MTV billion-times-played version, please post it. I could not.
posted by hippybear at 9:38 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]

Right back to senior year of high school. This cassette definitely never left my car that whole year.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:40 PM on August 25

And the articles I was reading about the release of the new version of the video all said "MTV demanded certain alterations, and that's what was aired". That's a "censored MTV version" which I could not find.
posted by hippybear at 9:41 PM on August 25

If you can f'ing find the MTV billion-times-played version, please post it. I could not.

Uqbar, is that you? I was not aware of how strong the Streisand effect - being epistemic in principle - manifests in the ontology of our physical world. Though maybe I shouldn't be surprised
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 10:21 PM on August 25

I entered UCLA in '85 a KLOS listener and left it in '92 a KROQ type.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 11:03 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]

Was never really a Pearl Jam fan, but they along with REM and The Tragically Hip (because I went to school in Kingston) were the ambient background music to my entire undergrad experience (wth Beck there at the very end).
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:18 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite PJ songs, "Yellow Ledbetter," was originally planned to be on Ten but didn't make the cut.
posted by zardoz at 11:40 PM on August 25 [9 favorites]

Back around 2013 I busted Eddie Vedder and what I'm guessing was some of Pearl Jam and/or the touring crew of the time and/or some friends. They were smoking a bowl in the plaza outside of the infamous 5 Point bar/cafe in Seattle and gave them a good natured ribbing and pretending I had no idea who they were.

They were also on tour and playing Key Arena in Seattle Center that night or the next or something, and some of them had embroidered tour jackets on and stage pass lanyards and everything.

This was after recreational legalization happened in Washington. They were smoking out of one of those cheap metal head shop pipes that screwed together out of various parts straight out of the 90s, and they were trying and totally failing to hide by standing down in the dry, empty fountain and monument for Chief Sealth that exists in the plaza.

I wouldn't have said anything normally but they were acting like a bunch of sheepish high school kids trying and failing to be stealth like cannabis was still illegal and I thought it was hilarious. There was also already like two or three different small groups at the plaza smoking, including one local and regular I knew that had a habit of walking around with a big art glass bubbler the size of his forearm that was about as discreet as a house fire.

It went something like this: "Hey, are you smoking weeeeed!? Guys, weed is legal now and no one here cares, and you're kind of obvious and suspicious looking standing in a group in the fountain like that. You can just sit in the plaza like a normal civilized person!"

They laughed nervously then visibly relaxed and sat at one of the tables in the plaza.

And then a few minutes when I got up and walked past them on my way back in to the 5 Point I said something like "And, hey, I really don't think anyone here is going to bust you in your home town in front of the 5 Point of all places. I'm pretty sure everyone here knows who you are, it's cool! Have a great show!" and left them cracking up.
posted by loquacious at 12:46 AM on August 26 [30 favorites]

I absolutely loved this album, but without going back and listening to it again (Or using the the links, I guess), I really have no strong memory of anything after Porch. I deeply love the beginning of the song, and all of the manic energy to it, but then I get to the jamming-ish outro that just dissipates all of that, and that’s usually when I went back to the beginning of the album. And that’s a solid half of an album, with some outright iconic songs. That seemed to be sort of an ongoing thing with PJ for me, really, really enjoying the first half or so of an album, with all of its sound and fury, and just sort of losing interest when they get jammy, or experimental. Some of those songs work, others just feel indulgent.

On the other hand, and I will feel pretty damn certain about this, Pearl Jam remains the worlds best at doing covers of The Who. Hell, most all of the covers they’ve done have been fantastic, and you can feel a deep level of love for the songs they cover.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:43 AM on August 26

Ten was the first CD I ever bought and I've probably listened to it more than any album apart from maybe OK Computer. I was listening to parts of it again, as well as some of the Unplugged performance, and I think it still holds up. For a long time, Pearl Jam was far and away my favourite band and I still have a soft spot for them, though I haven't listened to many of their albums after, I think, Riot Act.. They were definitely the soundtrack of my high school years (along with The Hip and REM) and I would hold "Black" up as one of the greatest rock songs of all time.
posted by synecdoche at 4:03 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]

Watching Eddie walk across the top of the stage scaffold, climb halfway down and stage dive into the crowd at Lollapalooza, in the meantime the band jamming its way through Even Flow- this is an indelible and all-time favorite memory of mine.
posted by simra at 4:10 AM on August 26

Was there a Gen-X dad who didn’t sing Even Flow while shopping or assembling baby stuff?
posted by MrGuilt at 5:01 AM on August 26 [14 favorites]

We have a toaster oven branded "Even Toast" so of course we sing every time it's doing it's toasty job.

Oh someday, yeah, we will have some toast again! Toast again!
posted by Gray Duck at 5:42 AM on August 26 [9 favorites]

Speaking of Gen X, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament played the members of self-absorbed grunge rocker Matt Dillon's band Citizen Dick in Cameron Crowe's 1992 movie Singles. The band also contributed a couple of songs to the film's excellent soundtrack.
posted by Gelatin at 5:48 AM on August 26 [5 favorites]

I vividly remember when Ten came out. I grew up just outside of Boston, and Tribe--a band whose career I'd been following for a while--had also released their major-label debut on August 26, 1991. Their music was synth-y and sinuous, and they had two female vocalists. When I walked into the record store to buy my copy of Abort, the guy behind the counter was playing Ten and I had this weird feeling that bands like Tribe were on their way out. (This was the single off their album.) Discovering alt rock/college rock was so exciting for me as a high schooler, and when grunge hit I could feel the culture shift away from the things I loved the most.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:11 AM on August 26

According to Wikipedia the album was released August 27th?
posted by leahneukirchen at 6:26 AM on August 26

There's also a newspaper article that inspired the Jeremy song.
posted by leahneukirchen at 6:30 AM on August 26

The release of Ten also began one of the most important months in rock history.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:30 AM on August 26 [4 favorites]

Maybe it's me, but I never got the sense that Jeremy was about a school shooting, but about a suicide, even before seeing the uncensored version. A troubled kid, parents who didn't really care as long as their kid wasn't a problem to them, uncaring and abusive classmates, a broken and screwed up inner world?

Fuck, one gun on hand and that could have been me. (Three years and two stolen bottles of scotch later, it almost was.)

And the last scene with the kids spattered with blood always spoke to me about the marks that Jeremy's blood would leave on them forever, and make them wonder "Was it me? Did I push him too far, instead of anyone else?"

In slightly lighter thoughts, I was at the Waverly on 8th in NYC at 11:30 one Saturday, waiting to get into Rocky Horror, and a guy showed up and pushed a button on a boombox and started singing along with Stone Temple Pilots "Plush", one side of his head shaved short and colored like the late Scott Weiland... and then suddenly it switched to "Evenflow" and he turned around to show the rest of his hair brown and styled like Eddie Vedder, and he seamlessly changed his voice to match it. He made about $100 from people applauding him when he passed the hat.
posted by mephron at 6:39 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]

Back in 1991 I was freshly and unhappily single, in the middle of a MA I was beginning to think was a mistake, and watched, as usual, the Late Show on BBC when this came on. The next day I got a bus to the nearest town that had record stores and went to each one until I got hold of Alive on cassette single, although I'd have taken any format. I played that until the tape broke. It made everything seem OK for a while.
posted by YoungStencil at 6:54 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]

This record came out during sophmore year of high school for me, so it triggers some pretty wild nostalgia. I liked it okay then, though at the time my taste was split mostly between shoegaze and R.E.M. , with a a little folk and a pretty heavy side serving of, like, Beastie Boys and De La Soul. And while Nirvana felt like a genuine and visceral pleasure (though the 90s, with all its rules and regulations required all the "I know this is totally popular and therefore uncool" disclaimers), there was a touch of corniness about Pearl Jam, and Eddie Vedder in particularly, that seems far more endearing in retrospect. At the time just remember my friends and their breathless affection for the mindblowing poetry of the "Black" lyrics and me being like, for real? like Leonard Cohen exists, y'all (two years later they'd all disavow Pearl Jam and quote Fugazi on their senior pages but you know . . . high school) . And I was 100% all "I'm pretty sure that this grunge thing is going to be over in five minutes. I mean, have you guys heard Teenage Fanclub??? THOSE GUYS ARE GOING TO BE HUGE!!!" I was an asshole about music then, and like most assholes, I was often unapologetically wrong.

My favorite Pearl Jam story was actually a couple years later, right around the time that Vs. came out. I was on a college tour with my dad and we were at Middlebury. I'd been handed off to admissions to this fairly hapless undergrad tour guide, who picked up on the fact that I liked music and was like, "OH SHIT. HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEW PEARL JAM?" And I was like, "No, I've been touring liberal arts colleges in New England with my dad who only listens toJames Brown and jazz from, roughly 1959-1973. " And he was like, "Dude, you have to come back to my dorm room and listen to this shit."

So we go to his dorm, which smelled like the bottom of a bong, and he cues up VS at, like, 11 and I sit there in silence for three songs. And he keeps looking at me all crazy-eyed like, "RIGHT?!" and I'm just sort of nodding because I'm seventeen and it's 10:30 in the morning and I'm thinking if I play my cards right I might be able to sneak in a cigarette now that I'm away from my Dad and the admissions officials. And it seems like the wrong time to tell this VERY EXCITED PEARL JAM FAN that my favorite music right now is definitely PJ Harvey, and this is just not hitting me the way it should, maybe. But I also couldn't tell if I thought he was flirting with me and whether I should be flattered because I wasn't the kind of girl that usually got flirted with especially by college guys. So we listened to the whole record in basically that kind of extended wild-eyed "HOLD UP WAIT FOR THIS RIFF" dude silence, even during a five-seven minute interval when his roommate came in and picked up a book for another class. When the record was over, he was like, That was something, right? and I was like, "Oh, yeah, totally." And he was like, "I should dub you a copy of this." And I was like, " I really have to get back." So he reached over and gave me his roommate's dubbed copy--"He doesn't understand good music anyway"-- and walked me back to admissions.

I gave the tape to my best friend/Pearl Jam fan back home. I got waitlisted at Middlebury.
posted by thivaia at 7:04 AM on August 26 [14 favorites]

My copy of Ten, which was a birthday gift in high school and one of the first CDs I ever owned, was stolen while I was in college, along with my Blood Sugar Sex Magik CD (go figure). However, I knew the former album more or less by heart, and had gotten back into, and was more into, hip hop and electronic music anyway, so I was pretty annoyed at the thief, a former roommate, but that was about it. Someday yet, I will purchase Ten again, Ten again (probably digitally).

Also, Ten is great, but Vitalogy is probably my favorite Pearl Jam album from my high school years. "Corduroy" still regularly gets stuck in my head, even though I haven't heard it in years.
posted by May Kasahara at 7:21 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]

Best live show I've ever, ever seen (and I've seen a lot of live shows. A. LOT.) was Pearl Jam in 1993 or 94 (I can't remember exactly when it was, my BFF was moving to Portland, OR and I bought us tickets as a going away present). Just unbelievably good.
posted by cooker girl at 7:47 AM on August 26

That Brendan O'Brien mix is waaaaaaaaay better, in that, a larger proportion of the time, you can hear that Jeff Ament is even playing. It's a bit like how the Butch Vig mix of Nirvana's Nevermind restores the dynamic range and makes it sound much better. Two of the most beloved records of the Gen X era and the original mixes both have huge problems.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:52 AM on August 26

And I was 100% all "I'm pretty sure that this grunge thing is going to be over in five minutes. I mean, have you guys heard Teenage Fanclub??? THOSE GUYS ARE GOING TO BE HUGE!!!"
Sassy magazine had a contest in 1992 where readers could win a Teenage Fanclub concert in their hometown... with special guest Nirvana.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:10 AM on August 26 [5 favorites]

Sassy magazine had a contest in 1992 where readers could win a Teenage Fanclub concert in their hometown... with special guest Nirvana.

100% likelihood that this exactly how I arrived at my opinion.
posted by thivaia at 11:51 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]

When I worked in the music biz in LA, I went out one night for beers with some other music biz friends. One of them walked in to the pub with her boyfriend, who had just moved to town from Seattle with his band to get ready for the upcoming release of their album. Long hair, sweet and folksy yet intense demeanor, you know where this is going. Eddie and I bonded on our common roots in the Pacific Northwest, chatted about the craziness of the business, etc. He struck me as being a remarkably authentic and grounded guy, a rarity in rock and roll those days (or any days, really). When we parted he basically said, "Welp, we'll see where this goes." Guess we now know where it went.
posted by vverse23 at 1:35 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

Ten may have been the last album I ever bought on tape. Even when it came out I had a CD player so either the music store didn't have it on CD or I didn't have the cash to shell out the extra $5 it would have cost. I listened to that first side so much, usually I'd listen and then rewind to listen again. Sometimes I'd actually play the second side but most of the time it was just the first side. Weirdly enough, as much as I listened to that album I didn't consider myself a fan, it was just an album that I liked.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:56 PM on August 26

The intro to Once and the outro to Release definitely had me listen to this album more times than if they were not there.... it was just one never ending album, ya know?

I had assumed the video for Jeremy was just the Director (of whom, I think MTV was just beginning to credit when they played videos?) of the video making their own artistic statement. How very, very wrong I was.

Random coincidence(s): My kid is just a couple of years younger than I was when Ten came out. Last week, they were looking at buying an mp3 player. I had been considering doing the same for a while, as with Google Music shutting down, I no longer had easy access to all of the CDs I purchased, without paying a monthly fee to stream them which I won't do because they have already been purchased AND there is a significant chunk of CDs that just won't be on the streaming sites (and b-sides, and promotional only releases and, and and...)

It's looking like I am going to have to re-rip the whole collection for reasons. I have been knocking out ~6 albums a night, and last night happened to be Pearl Jam heavy. Kiddo and I have been alternating days of listening to each other's music on the way in to school/work. Even with shuffle on and (checks) 1,000+ songs moved just over this week, we heard 3 PJ songs on our 25 minute drive. Lo and behold, this is one of the first things I saw in my RSS today.

(aside: I'm not moving the music alphabetically, so getting to P with only 1,000 songs is misleading. And, the band my kid has been playing on the rides in this week is Front Bottoms, for those who care.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:56 PM on August 26

I remember when that album came out and their Big Ass Label bought out the Hipster Venue in town for a listening party or maybe even a band appearance or something. I was (and am) an insufferable music snob and was rolling my eyes at the corporate fawning over this "super" group made up of refugees from some Seattle bands that were waaaay worse than the ones I worshipped. A fair number of people seemed excited about the band, but it all reeked of paid promo -- today you would call them influencers. It worked, big time.
posted by intermod at 7:09 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]

Oh fuck, I’m old.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 7:11 PM on August 26 [3 favorites]

I didn't buy into Pearl Jam with Ten or with Vs. Didn't even listen to them much. It was Vitalogy that won me over.

It was also their Third Album, and after what Ten did in the market and what Vs. did in the market (which was truly insane)... they sort of wanted to peel back the outer layers of their fan base and do an album that was really truly OUT THERE and so they did Vitalogy. With a booklet that cost the band a percentage of their earnings because it was more expensive to produce. And songs that were just... like... NOT what was expected based on Ten and Vs.

I think either you went through that with the band and kept going, or you just didn't.
posted by hippybear at 8:52 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

Probably the first time I "got" music. Before that I had always listened to music, but with this album - I had it on cassette as well as many others here - I finally understood that music does things.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:02 PM on August 26

Speaking of Gen X, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament played the members of self-absorbed grunge rocker Matt Dillon's band Citizen Dick in Cameron Crowe's 1992 movie Singles. The band also contributed a couple of songs to the film's excellent soundtrack.

The song State of Love and Trust is one of my favorite from that era, it's on that soundtrack along with another classic, Nearly Lost You by the Screaming Trees.
posted by chaz at 12:15 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]

Nearly Lost You is, to me, the perfect grunge song. Damn I love that song. State of Love and Trust is also pretty high up there as far as peak early Pearl Jam.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:27 AM on August 27

I never liked Ten much, or its peers Badmotorfinger or Teeenage Fanclub's Bandwagoneseque - they all spend way too much time lazily jamming and yowling like Led Zepplin (well not TFC for yowling, but The Concept is 2 minutes of song and 4 minutes of OOOing), who I'm not a fan of. But it was still the sound of my youth. Pearl Jam and Wilson Phillips, so I can listen to Ten and enjoy the nostalgia while not liking the actual music much.

I 'got' Pearl Jam on Vs, and beyond, and have seen them in concert twice, both fine.

This wasn't on Ten, but I'm pretty sure that a misheard lyrics video for Yellow Ledbetter might be the first thing I ever watched on Youtube.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:00 AM on August 27

This is only available this weekend: The No Code Concert from 2014
posted by hippybear at 10:36 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure that a misheard lyrics video for Yellow Ledbetter yt might be the first thing I ever watched on Youtube.

Isn't Vedder on record for having made-up/mumbled the lyrics for most of this song, so there are no real lyrics for this, but a sort of community created set of words has come into existence?
posted by hippybear at 10:37 PM on August 27

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