Pearl Jam during the days of "Ten"
|Lets's start at the beginning. Guitarist Stone Gossard, who was born and raised in Seattle, forms a band Green River, along with Montana native, bassist Jeff Ament in 1984. Green River plays around the clubs in Seattle and later splits. Gossard and Ament, in 1987, form the cult band Mother Love bone, with Andrew Wood. The sound is a bit on the glam rock side of the '80s. Just when the band were getting popular, with the release of their first album "Apple" eminent, Wood dies of a drug overdose. "Apple" is released, but MLB disband. Gossard and Ament were discouraged and seperate for a while, playing with other musicians. But soon, they sought each other out with plans of starting a new band. They discvered Mike McCready, playing guitar at a party on a borrowed amp.|
Stone Gossard at Mtv Unplugged
|Pearl Jam's audience starts growing little by little. "Alive" is the first single and their signature track for a long time. Meantime, singer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, writes songs for a tribute album to Andrew Wood, his friend and rommate. The project is called Temple Of The Dog and includes Soundgarden's Matt Cameron and Wood's bandmates in Mother Love Bone Jeff & Stone along with Mike McCready. Eddie also lends his vocals for the superb "Hunger Strike" a hit single of the album. Meanwhile the band tour in support of "Ten". Pearl Jam also had appeared in a Cameron Crowe movie "Singles", based in Seattle, and the soundtracks features two songs by the band - "State Of Love And Trust" and "Breath". Eddie, Jeff & Stone also have bit parts in the film as the backup band of actor Matt Dillion. And then "Jeremy" happens. The single (inspired by the true story of a boy in Texas who shoots his classmates beofre killing hinself) becomes one of the biggest tracks of the year with the powerful and though-provoking lyrics sung excellently by Vedder backed by the band's intense playing, and the video goes on to win four awards at the MTV Video Music Awards. "Evenflow" (US Top Ten, UK #15) is also released with a live video.|
|"Animal" and "Rearviewmirror" were two songs that were shown regularly on the musical channels available to me. Other fan favorites from the album were "Daughter", "Glorifies G" (Eddie's ode to America's obsession with guns), "Elderly Woman..." & "Indifference" - a song which almost states the band's attitute to the media and the rest of the world ( my advice to first time listeners of this song, is to turn off all the lights, light a candle and open your mind). After two secret gigs in the US, they headed for Europe. Eddie Vedder appeared on the cover of Time Magazine around this period. Also around this time, the fight for lower ticket sales for their concerts was staged with Ticketmaster, the ticketing agency for big venues in most cities in the US. The following year saw the firing of drummer Dave Abruzzese for personal reasons. With a new album coming out, everyone were guessing who would now play drums for the band. "Vitalogy" was released, first on vinyl and 2 week later on cd and tapes. Once it was released on cd, the album shot straight to the #1 slot on the Billboard charts and went multi-platinum. The record features the radio hit "Better Man" (which in 1998 PJ would dedicate to Hillary and Bill Clinton.. listen to the lyrics, u'll find out why :-) ) The battle with Ticketmaster continued to rage on and PJ found themselves having to either play smaller venues or in obscure outdoor parks or colloges. Before the tour, it was announced that former Red Hot Chili Peppers & Eleven drummer, Jack Irons would be the new skinbasher for Pearl Jam.
Eddie Vedder live in Warsaw
Mike McCready solos on a Les Paul
|Irons, who introduced Stone and Jeff to Eddie in the first place - thereby coming full circle, was a long time friend of the band. Other than "Better Man", the hit "Nothing Man", "Tremor Christ", "Not For You", "Spin The Black Circle" (for which they would win a Grammy). But the gem on this album (and my long time favorite song of PJ... until I went back to "Alive" ;0) ) is "Immortality", a haunting, beautiful and powerful track. The day I bought my copy of "Vitalogy", I reached home and put the tape into my stereo system and began listening to it. I stopped the tape just before "Immortality" and went to sleep. Around 3:00 am I woke up all of a sudden and couldn't go back to sleep again. So I played the last two songs on the album and "Immortality" came on. There that night in my room, with just a small light glowing, I was blown away by the song.|
|Also in 1995, Mike started his side project, the Seattle supergroup, Mad Season, along with Alice in Chains's Layne Staley on vocals, Screaming Trees's drummer Barett Martin, and bassist Baker. They released the highly acclaimed "Above" in the spring of the same year. 1996 sees the release of the EP "Merkinball" which went to #7, containing the great songs "I Got Id" and the lovely, sad and sweet "Long Road". They also rescheduled some cancelled shows of their earlier tour. Later, the soundtrack to the movie "Dead Man Walking" was released with "The Face Of Love", performed by Eddie and the late Pakistani quawli singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and "Long Road". Everyone who saw the movie (including me) say that the songs complimented the movie to great effect. Pearl Jam offered those songs at the personal request of the film's director, Tim Robbins, a fan. Pearl Jam went on to win the American Music Awards for the Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock and Favorite Alternative Music Artist categories. After winning a grammy for best Hard Rock/Metal act, they release their fourth album, "No Code". The first single "Who Are You" enters the Billborad Singles Chart at #35 and the album debuts at #1 (yes once again, without almost no promotion or support from the media) Most people thought the album was sparse and lacked direction, it's weird combo of experimental rock and worldbeat a bit too much to take for some fans. But "No Code" still has a few great tracks - ""Sometimes", "In My Tree", "Off He Goes", "Red Mosquito" and the ballad "Around The Bend", which was written for drummer Jack Irons baby son.|
|As they were starting their 1998 tour, Jack Irons left due to personal & health reasons. He decided that he wanted to spend his time with his family. It is not known if the split from Pearl Jam is a permament one and if he will return once he has settled all his problems. The band were supportive of their drummer and all they told the media was that they stand by his decision and wish him the best. Matt Cameron, ex-Soundgarden, was playing in small projects to while away his time after his band has split up. Cameron joined up with Pearl Jam and a full scale tour was conducted, culminating in a live album "Live On Two Legs", with performances culled from the dates on the tour. And then a surprise came in the form of a smash hit single. Pearl Jam released "Last Kiss", a cover of a 1960's song about a boy who loses his love in a car crash, as a Christmas Freebie for members of TenClub (the official Pearl Jam fan club). It was a simple, bare recording, but played with passion and feel. The song got played on radio stations around the US and slowly the rest of the world, and became a huge phenomenon.|
With no video, no promotion, just simple old fashion word of mouth was enough for the song to become on of the most requested singles in recent years. "Last Kiss" went to #1 in the US (for seven weeks in Australia) and other countries. The song was included in a benifit album for war torn Kosavo called "No Boundaries" and made millions for the aid of the refugees. A pleasant surprise indeed, maybe things are not all that wrong with this world! Then the band set about to write songs for the first album with Cameron. In May 2000, "Binaural" was released, with excellent cover art. The moody "Nothing As It Seems" was released as the first single. Once again no videos to support the single. Other great songs are "Thin Air", "Evacuation", "Grievance", "Sleight Of Hand", "Light Years" and "Soon Forget" which just has Eddie singing and strumming a ukelele. A successful tour was spolied rotten by one incident, which will haunt the band for years, but which was no fault if theirs. Indeed no band can be blamed when things like this happen. On June 30, 2000, nine fans lost their lives in a stampede that occured during the band's convert at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. The crowd just rushed towards the stage and the unfortunate victims were crushed. Pearl Jam were shocked and cancelled their remaining few dates in Europe, before regrouping and returning to play dates in The US and Canada. What can u say? There are idiots in the audience who create trouble for others and this was an extreme example of what could go wrong. But Pearl Jam have pulled themselves back and delivered great performances in the North American part of their tour. And another pioneering venture by the band...PJ have supported bootlegging by their fans at live concerts. This time they decided to put out official bootlegs of the 25 European concerts and later the North American ones too. The band had 5 of those albums go into the Billboard top 100 Album Charts at the same week ending September 26. No other band has been able to have more than two brand new records on the charts on the same day. Well PJ had 5. Now that is a first and only Pearl Jam can do something as wonderful as that. So who cares about videos and MTV (the channel sucks anyway) and being in the spotlight 24 hours a day. It's all about the music.
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