I am the music child of the 80s. There was a time when I followed Wham and Elton John (of the 80s) fervently thinking that this is it, this is the music I live for (I would not start listening to the music of 60s and 70s until late 90s!!). And then I found Bon jovi and thought this is so much better and cleaner than the crap I had been listening to. And then someone gave me a cassette of Judas Priest. I have never looked back since.
The year that I really fell in love with music was when I first heard Nirvana. They took me to another level altogether. And soon I started to hear a lot about Pearl Jam. I didn’t really give them much of a listen until I heard the song Jeremy on MTV. Of course, I couldn’t get enough of Pearl Jam after that. Ever since, I have been following their music off and on ever since that first album.
By the time they released “Yield” in 1998, they we getting to be a little tiring.
Keep in mind that I loved all their albums but something was missing. The music critics tell me it’s their lack of PR activities for each album that they release. I acknowledge that it’s true up to a point i.e. that they didn’t actively pursue new audience and that always hurts sales since the younger audiences always buy more than any other demography. Moreover, if you don’t release your material in the more traditional sense (A video, singles, larger concert instead of the small ones that Pearl Jam was pursuing), you wouldn’t have known that the album was pretty good enough to spend USD 20 on. But for the “more experienced” fan like me, the problem was their inability to connect like they did on their first big three (TEN, VS and VITALOGY). “No Code” and “Yield” were really good but I never really wanted to play them again and again. I will leave it to the more musically tuned as to why I would feel this way and still love the two albums.
And then came Binaural. The first time I heard it, it really blew my mind. Each song was so different yet quite like the songs in “Vs”. More importantly, that was one album that I was going back to again and again. The only thing that had changed was that Jack Irons quit the band and Matt Cameron (from Soundgarden). Did he provide an impetus to move back to hard rock or was it something that the band had mulling, we’ll never know. All I know is that the songs were really fresh and the band sounded like the old Pearl Jam we have come to love.
I completely missed the next album and I fault Pearl Jam for it. Since they never advertise their albums I never really got hold of “Riot Act” and to this day I have not listened to it.
But when I started to hear rumours about their latest album, I put all sort of reminders of the day of release on my home and office computer. And boy am I glad I did. Their latest is called “Pearl Jam (2006)”. And it is their best since “Ten”. This albums truly rocks. I have, so far, listened to the album numerous times and each song is a gem. Eddie is back to his vocals of choice, sincere and gutsy. The music in the first half is hard and all the songs “Life Wasted”, “World Wide Suicide”, “Comatose”, “Severed Hand” and “Marker In The Sand” out do each other. In the second half, the band brings their music down several notches and that’s where the true gems lie. The last two songs “Come Back” and “Inside Job” are not their usual angry songs. They are mellow and sound full of hope especially the closer. There are hard rocking numbers in the second half but mixed with the mellow songs they feel like breath of fresh air.
All in all I would say that the album has bought the band to prominence just as “Don’t Believe The Truth” bought Oasis back from the cold.