Tag Archives: Pearl Jam

All Five Horizons Revolved Around Her Soul – Pearl Jam 20 Years Later

It’s raining today, not buckets like it will on Sunday I hear, but raining nonetheless. it seems that time of year is upon us. The time when the sun comfortably rests & the rains shower us with the moisture of the heavens. It’s only fitting that a band from the Seattle grunge scene played their first show ever today in 1990. Under the name Mookie Blaylock soon to be Pearl Jam they played a gig at the Off Ramp in Seattle & made rock history. Pearl Jam is one of those enigmatic bands that seems to shun the limelight* & genuinely care about the fans that support them. It seems like such a short time ago that I was listening to this new wave of music called grunge that would come to change my life.

*except when they’re fighting Ticketmaster.

20 years together is a feat for any kind of relationship, but especially a band with all the egos & celebrity that go along with being in a band that has sold out Soldier Field in Chicago among other places. Nirvana was together for less than a decade when Kurt killed himself, Alice in Chains lost Layne Staley to drugs & Chris Cornell did a pop album that was hideous before he decided to reunite with Soundgarden. Through all of that Pearl Jam has stayed together. It hasn’t all been pretty. They’ve made some pretty bad albums, but also some of Rock’s greatest albums including Ten. An album they think was overproduced. So in staying true to their vision I’ve recently gotten hold of the first week rehearsal demos (10/23/90) from a friend & I will now share them with on this the 20th anniversary of Pearl Jam.

Also, because it is raining & I do love it so, here is a poem (not something I would normally condone – poetry that is) by Sara Teasdale that I first saw in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. One of my favorite books of all-time & really less about Martians & more about life in the Nuclear Era.

There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

There are some that have asked for zip files & others that want to pick & choose what they download. Unfortunately, right now the company that I store my files with does not do zip files yet & I really don’t want to move to another site. So for now this will have to do, sorry.

Pearl Jam First Week Demos – 10/23/90

Even Flow

Once

Breath

Release

Girl

Goat

Alive

Alone

Oceans

Black

Improv (Early Yellow Ledbetter)

Weird A

Daddy Could Swear I Do Declare

Hearts & Thoughts They Fade…Fade Away

Nearly 17 years ago Pearl Jam released their 2nd album & one of the defining albums of my teenage years, VS. While the album was released in October of 1993, rehearsals started in February which is when the demos that you will no doubt be listening to shortly, are from. In February of 1993 I was 16 years old getting fully ingratiated into the grunge scene, leaving the sounds of gangster rap that my peers were listening to in the rear view. I became a bit more of an outcast than I already was, at a new school hanging out with guys that listened to things that I no longer had a connection to.

Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots & later Green Day & Bad Religion sparked something inside of me that connected me to a sense of rebellion or awkwardly connected me to disconnection. Always feeling like the outcast or at least the observer to everyone else’s enlightenment, but now I felt like I was the enlightened one & they were still waiting to take the blue pill. How could they not understand the beauty in a simple guitar riff? Was it the nearly unintelligible lyrics of Eddie Vedder, my newest hero?

Eddie was a long haired Sampsonian figure who screamed his angst into a microphone that might as well have been dipped in gold. He sung of boy’s killing themselves in front of their classmates, dissidents & the guilt of being alive while others around you drop like flies. It was my teenage years personified. Everything I couldn’t express in so many words, Eddie & Kurt did for me. I’d retreat to my bedroom, after observing the animals in the cage all day within the confines of the school & the factions that existed between so many different people from similar backgrounds.

I would sit in my room listening as Mike McCready did things with a guitar that until then I had never heard before. Eddie sung things like “Daughter”, not so cryptically speaking of violence, when all she seeks to do is please her parent. Reminding me of my own relationship with my father. No, it wasn’t a physically violent relationship at all, but the conversations were rarely pleasant. We had a weird, never comfortable relationship.

Something that spoke to the inner demons he shared with his own father. That disconnection I spoke of earlier was never more evident than when my father & I spoke. We connected on so few levels that when he died in 2001 there was a guilt that arose from having a weight lifted off my shoulders & having that last argument with him moments before he died. It never set well with me, but I always turned back to Eddie & the way he seemed to internalize everything. Not the healthiest response to be sure, but a coping mechanism nonetheless.

Often times people think of their High School years fondly as a time that they were at their peak or when they met people they made lasting lifelong relationships with. They go to their reunions to reacquaint themselves with lost time, a time when they were the king of the court. For me, high school was an observatory experience that jaded me & at the same time helped me become the writer I am today. Without the experience of those early years I never would have been able to coherently describe things the way I seemingly can now.

Without, what people offhandedly refer to as “The Grunge Years”, I never would have had that outlet that helped me to cope with things that I had no way of grasping in reality. It was because of this music that I picked up a guitar & taught myself how to play. It was because of this music that I enhanced my vocabulary. They were using words like the aforementioned dissident, making me wish I’d paid more attention in Mr. Hughes’ English class. It showed me that intelligence & music could forge a beautiful bond.

This album meant so much to me when later the same year as my father died, my grandfather succumbed to the cancer that ravaged his body. The man that I idolized had left an indelible mark on me, so much more than the man who raised me. The life that he told me I could have from working hard to achieve whatever my goals were. Starting work as a 12 year old washing dishes having taken a train to California with a friend to owning his own business & living near the beach. All the stories came flooding back & that clear refrain came into my head as we held a wake for him:

Hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade…

Versus Demos – 1993

Alone

Animal

Blood

Daughter

Dissident

Glorified G

Go

Hard To Imagine

Indifference

Leash

Rats

Rearview Mirror

Small Town (Elderly Woman…)

Whipping

I Want My MTV

Watching the circus that was the MTV Video Music Awards a couple weeks back & that the ruckus that was caused by a certain rapper over a certain video brought MTV once again back into the limelight. This article, however, is not about Kanye West, Beyonce Knowles or the VMA’s. All of that has been discussed ad nauseum to the point of Jay Leno asking about Kanye’s deceased mother. No, what this is about is the hypocrisy of MTV. How is it that a channel that started a revolution in music by “Killing the Radio Star” has an awards show honoring videos when they no longer show videos?

What happened to MTV? How did it get so bad, so fast? Remember watching Nirvana Unplugged in New York a few months after Kurt died & wondering what might have been? This was must see TV for Generation X & left an indelible mark on our brains about what music should sound like. MTV made stars of artists who in an age of visualization were savvy enough to carve out an image for themselves.
Now, though, MTV & VH1 have devolved into fodder for late night television & the blogosphere with their sub-moronic scripted reality shows that are killing brain cells every moment they are on. VH1 has become a haven for washed up 80’s musicians like Bret Michaels who intend on extending that 15 minutes of fame to cash in on whatever remaining seconds of popularity they have left.

Consequently, MTV has lost all credibility in the music world as they can no longer call themselves a viable music network. They broke the mold on Music related programming like Headbanger’s Ball & YO! MTV Raps. They owned the market on music related content like TRL which was the quintessential standard for pop music in the late 90’s early 00’s. For better or worse MTV created a niche for itself that made artists take notice & reinvent themselves.

Now, it’s shows like The Hills or True Life (which is anything but) that dominate MTV’s viewership. I’m not some old guy longing for the days when music was played on a phonograph. There is a place for original programming. The Real World was seminal in starting the reality show craze we see today, for better or worse & created one of the best seasons of television with the Judd Winick, Pedro season. it was when they started to focus strictly on reality though & stopped caring about the music.

Would Billy Idol have been the huge star he was in the 80’s if we hadn’t watched him in “White Wedding”? Would Madonna be anybody today if she hadn’t dressed up like Marilyn Monroe for “Material Girl”? Would Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, have created the huge grunge explosion if it weren’t for watching “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Jeremy” or “Black Hole Sun” on MTV? Perhaps, but they would not have enjoyed the type of success they achieved if it weren’t for the double marketing of videos & music.

MTV shaped a generation, giving greater appreciation for the duality of Music & Film. It became a brand, a standard for current trends. You could see what your favorite artist was wearing in a video & emulate it. Sure there’s You Tube & artists still post videos up there, but it isn’t like it was. Coming home from school to watch videos while doing my homework was a favorite past time of mine as a teenager & now all of that it gone. Much like Dire Straits who said in their classic song/video “Money For Nothing”, “I want my MTV”. The difference is, my MTV is dead.

Top 250 of All-Time 199-190

#199 – Abraxas – Santana

Abraxas is Santana at his most lyrical, especially when Gregg Robie isn’t singing. Layered in Latin flavor Santana excels at songs like “Samba Pa Ti” where he speaks through his guitar playing a beautiful melody though intricate & refined. Covers of Peter Green’s (Fleetwood Mac’s original line-up) “Black Magic Woman” & Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” stamp the Santana insignia on them creating classics that would become his & his alone. At only 22 Santana proved that his first album was no fluke & his intensely mesmerizing performance at Woodstock only lent itself to his growing mystique.

Samba Pa Ti – Santana

Black Magic Woman – Santana

#198 – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty’s debut album after Mudcrutch disbanded became a huge hit in the U.K. before it went gold in the U.S. This album shows Petty embracing 60s rock more than most artists at the time. I t was a style familiar to the Byrds & Bruce Springsteen with that familiar Blue Collar element that became so apparent in songs like “American Girl” which All Music referred to as:

The similarities between Petty & the Byrds became apparent. Take the closer “American Girl”, it’s a Byrds song by any other name but he pushed the Heartbreakers to treat it as a Rock & Roll song not as something delicate.

“Breakdown” has that familiar hook with Petty’s Dylan-esque vocals. A sign of great things to come.

Breakdown – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

American Girl – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

#197 – War – U2

U2’s third album, War, was the one that propelled them into the limelight as it was their first overtly political album. Bono put it best:

War seemed to be the motif for 1982, everywhere you looked, from the Falklands to the Middle East & South Africa, there was a war. By calling the album, War, we’re giving people a slap in the face & at the same time getting away from the cosy image alot of people have of U2.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” is the perfect example of one of the protest songs as it speaks to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s military-esque drum beat by Larry Mullen at the beginning is followed immediately by the Edge’s fiery solo. It is a song written by the Edge after a  period of growing frustrations with his own writing ability & problems with his girlfriend.

Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2

New Year’s Day – U2

#196 – Ten – Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, is a seminal album in grunge lore. Eddie Vedder mumbles his way through classics such as: “Jeremy”, “Alive” & “Black”. When Mother Love Bone broke up Jeff Ament & Stone Gossard recruited Vedder, Mike McCready & Dave Krusen to form Pearl Jam. Vedder wrote of depression, homelessness, suicide & abuse. “Jeremy” the song about a boy who is picked on, to the point of committing suicide in front of his classmates is an example of Vedder’s pulling stories out of the newspaper & turning them into hits.

“Alive” tells the semi-biographical tale of a son that discovers his father is actually his step-father & that his real father died many years before & his mothers grief turns her to sexually embrace her son who strongly embraces the biological father.

Jeremy – Pearl Jam

Black – Pearl Jam

#195 – Animals – Pink Floyd

Animals is Pink Floyd’s take on George Orwell’s classic political allegory on communism, Animal Farm. The various animals described on the album represent different elements of society. Dogs are businessmen, Sheep as the powerless pawns & Pigs as ruthless leaders. While the book is commentary on communism, the album deals more of it’s pointed attacks at capitalism.

David Gilmour said this to Mojo in 2008 about Animals:

Roger’s (Waters) thing is to dominate, but I am happy to stand up for myself & argue vociferously as to the merits of different pieces of music, which is what I did on Animals. I didn’t feel remotely squeezed out of that album. 90% of the song “Dogs” was mine. That song was almost the whole of one side, so that’s half of Animals.

This in response to long held conclusions from media & fans alike that Roger Waters was the driving force behind the album & in effect began to take greater control beginning with this album.

Pigs on the Wing (Part 1) – Pink Floyd

Dogs – Pink Floyd

#194 – Metallica – Metallica

On previous albums Metallica were the speed metal masters of the 80’s with songs like “Ride the Lightning” & “Master of Puppets”, but with the so called Black Album it was a new direction for Metallica. Gone were the staccato riffs that had defined them & with that change over from Metal long hairs to true rock stars they created an album so great that it is one of the top selling albums of all-time having sold 22 million to date. Along with the good, the alter ego of Metallica must be taken into account as they have crusaded for years against the sharing of music on peer-to-peer sites & even blogs. Lars Ulrich in particular has been the most vocal as he seemingly wishes to keep his music locked in a vault. As an aside, what many artists don’t realize is by bloggers, such as myself, bringing attention to some of their works they have a better chance of getting paid than if they wage a war against their fans. A war that no matter how many sites they shut down, they can not win.

Unforgiven – Metallica

Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

#193 – The River – Bruce Springsteen

The River was intended to be a single album with joyful songs, but Springsteen, never one to be complacent, wrote “The River” about his sister and brother-in-law. About a couple marrying too young because of pregnancy, changed everything, and the narrator feels they’ve forgotten what used to be important and feels like his dreams will never come true. After that he changed the album from the single album The Ties That Bind to the double album The River with a darker edge to it. This according to Bruce himself:

Rock & Roll has always been about joy, this certain happiness that is in it’s way the most beautiful thing in life. But Rock is also about hardness & coldness & being alone…I finally got to the place where I realizes life had paradoxes, a lot of them & you’ve got to live with them.

Among many of the songs was the happy sounding but ultimately tragic classic “Hungry Heart” originally written for The Ramones, but Bruce was convinced by Manager/Producer Jon Landau to keep it for himself.

The River – Bruce Springsteen

Hungry Heart – Bruce Springsteen

#192 – The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle, was released in 1973 to little fanfare initially. It’s a telling album of the young Bruce’s thoughts & opinions at the time. About the police, “The newsboys say the heat’s been bad since Power Thirteen gave a trooper all he had in a late summer scuffle.” & about sex, “All the little girls’ souls grow weak when the man-child gives them a double shot.” Typically, for a Springsteen album, it has a host of characters with everyman names that could easily be you or I.

In “Incident on 57th Street”,  “Spanish Johnny dressed like dynamite” meets “Puerto Rican Jane”, who dreams of taking him to, “the other part of town where paradise ain’t so crowded”. While Jane sleeps with her “sheets soaked damp from sweat” Johnny’s friends call through a window in what seems to be some sordid affair to make “easy money”. He promises to meet Jane “tomorrow night on lover’s lane”. The album is as close to an ode to West Side Story as anything Springsteen’s ever written as with “Rosalita” his tale of forbidden love screams Romeo & Juliet & Tony & Maria.

Rosalita – Bruce Springsteen

Incident on 57th Street – Bruce Springsteen

#191 – Black Album – Jay-Z

What was supposed to be his final album, The Black Album, turned out to be his Michael Jordan moment. Creating greatness & being lauded for it is hard to stay away from. With samples of songs from Madonna, Run DMC, R. Kelly & the Chi-Lites, Jay-Z created a return to his Reasonable Doubt style, getting away from the commercialized, over-hyped offerings he had been putting out since. What may be the best indication of the enduring legacy of this album are the remixes & mash-ups that have consistently been made since his accapella version of the Black Album were released. Most notably the Grey Album, by Danger Mouse, which combined this with the Beatles White Album. Another version with Linkin Park was a lso released & is the only authorized copy to date.

Dirt Off your Shoulder – Jay-Z

Lucifer – Jay-Z

#190 – Disraeli Gears – Cream

Initially self titled, Disraeli Gears got it’s name from roadie Mick Turner’s response as Ginger Baker discussed purchasing a racing bicycle. Turner exclaimed, “It’s got them Disraeli gears!” meaning to say “derailleur gears”, but instead alluding to 19th Century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. The classic track, “Sunshine of Your Love” was a sign that the band was distancing themselves away from their blues sound & more towards a psychedelic sound.

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream

Music News – Jay Z (D.O.A.), Lemonheads, Pearl Jam

  • The Lemonheads have a new single this week. Coincidentally, Evan Dando is suing, nearly defunct, GM because he alleges they used his song “It’s a Shame about Ray” in a commercial. Why, of all the artists songs to use, would GM use a Lemonheads song? A group most famous for covering a Simon & Garfunkel song, “Mrs. Robinson“. Ah, maybe it’s tangible proof of their poor decision making that led to their undoing. See for yourself. If anything the Lemonhead song sounds like the Velvet Underground’s, “Who Loves the Sun?“. So maybe instead of gunning for companies who can’t even pay their employees, maybe Evan Dando should watch his own ass in case Lou Reed decides he needs a little extra coin.
  • In another case of odd litigation someone named Jocelyn Brown is suing shitty 90s group Snap! over their song “The Power” that’s been featured in 500 movies, TV shows, commercials, etc. Honestly, it’s been 20 years, you didn’t think about suing before now? Isn’t there some sort of statute of limitations on contributing to kitschy shit? Maybe they weren’t really the lyrical Jesse James…hmmm?
  • Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes did a really long interview over at Pitchfork. I spent 20 minutes reading it & got about half way through it.
  • Thom Yorke, of Radiohead, will playing solo at the Latitude Festival this year in Suffolk, England this year. It’s rare that Yorke plays solo so you may want to reserve your tickets now my England bound friends. July 16-19.
  • Interesting how groups like Pearl Jam have become corporate douches after spending many years fighting for the common man. Nick Hornby favorite & Pearl Jam acolyte, I Am Fuel You Are Friends Blogger, Heather Browne, got into a bit of a dust-up last week with PJ Management. It may be time for Pearl Jam to descend into that good night. Since Vitalogy have they made a good album? If so use the comment section to name it and why it’s relevant?
  • Not sure if this is really Music News but Apple is set to reduce the price of the current I-Phone on the cusp of their new I-Phone anouncement said to come within a month or two. Prices could down $50-100.
  • Our condolences to ex-Guns ‘N Roses guitarist, Slash, who’s mother passed away June 5th after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. She was a professional costume designer who tailored outfits for such acts as John Lennon, Diana Ross & the Pointer Sisters.
  • Jay-Z’s New single “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)” off his yet to be released album The BluePrint III, has leaked and guess who’s got it? Hova, once again, proves why there is no other rapper in his league, period.

Velvet Underground – Who Loves the Sun

Jay-Z – D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)