Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Real Fan?"

I try to keep my posts positive. There is so much music to try to write about so it would be silly if I did a review of Celine Dion, and gave it the treatment it deserved. That would accomplish nothing as I have never been a fan of hers. But, I will write from time to time about bands that I love that later make me say, "say it ain't so."
One such case is Pearl Jam. I got a listen to an advance copy of Ten by a good friend of mine. I was hooked and showed up at the Music Warehouse to buy my cassette copy the day it was released. I delivered pizzas at the time and was in my car 40 hrs a week and played nothing but that album for a few months. I physically destroyed two copies of the tape from playing it so much. I subsequently was at the music store to purchase both Vs. and Vitalogy. I saw them play at Lollapalooza and saw them at Soldier Field off Vitalogy. I bought a bootleg box set of 5 cd's called Hallucinogenic Recipe for $125.00. I knew all the arcane trivia (pre -internet) from reading every interview possible.
Then came Merkinball with Neil Young in 1995 and Eddies vocals and the bands sound has never been the same. I am not a Neil Young fan and like his effect on other musicians even less. After this album Eddie's vocals and the Pearl Jam sound changed. The ensuing album, No Code is the lowest point of Pearl Jams sound. It is a straight forward classic rock tinged pedestrian sound. The band was way too young to be turning into a classic rock band. I bought the following album, Yield , hoping the previous one was a mirage. I can't tell you how many people said it was "better than No Code". Well, that's saying something.
Now I hear everyone say how great Pearl Jam is. Maybe they are one of the few 90's Seattle bands left so people are giving them a wide berth. As I often have people tell me, that's what "real fans" do, they support whatever the band does. Wow, I couldn't disagree more. The reason you got into the band in the first place is because the music moved you so much.
It seems to me that the band may have been given an ultimatum and Eddie ended up with way more say to the finished product than he should. Maybe he learned how to co-opt a band with a power play, from Neil Young who was deft at elbowing his way into other bands (Crazy Horse, Peter Paul and Mary).
And now comes news of the Target deal with Pearl Jam. Can't wait to see those commercials. Shades of Bono's news conference from K Mart or Metallica's Versace get up and videos and blues-stomp rock for The Black Album. Sometimes a band can disappoint you so much that you know you will never make your way back.
Say it ain't so.


John Jones said...

This is the kind of post I can sink my teeth into. I'm a firm believer that music finds US at certain times in my life. There are things I loved as a teenager that I cannot listen to now, and there are things I used to find uninteresting that I now love. Pearl Jam is a case of the latter.

I worked at Crow's Nest, the only cool record store in Joliet, when I was a freshman in college. At that point I was into pop, R&B and jazz...laugh if you will, but I still love a lot of Amy Grant's music to this day. So when Nirvana and Pearl Jam came around, I didn't get it. At all. Co-workers would play those CDs at the store EVERY DAY, and if I had to pick one, it would've been Pearl Jam. But it wasn't the kind of thing I'd buy at the time.

Fast forward 10 years. By the early 2000's I was DEEP into classic rock and singer/songwriter stuff...and a lot of the artists I liked (Bonnie Raitt, Joan Osborne, Vonda Shepard) were being produced by Mitchell Froom, sometimes with Tchad Blake. I liked their sound so much, that when I saw Tchad Blake produced the Pearl Jam album Binaural, I had to give it a try. I thought their songwriting had really matured - I cover "Light Years" in my shows every chance I get. So I loved the album so much I started working backwards in their catalog. I really liked Yield, especially the insane "Do the Evolution" and the catchy "Pilate." So when I kept moving backwards towards their earliest stuff, I was ready for more noise. I know the grungier, younger sounding rock was their core sound, but for my ears their catalog worked in reverse. I am a huge fan now.

Riot Act was pretty good, but I REALLY loved the self-titled album (avocado on the cover). I'm really excited about their new album but I have a feeling I won't listen to it much for a few weeks as I'll be ears deep in Beatles remasters. Oh yeah, and there's that album of my own I really want to finish...

John Jones said...

What I meant to say in the beginning was, Music finds us at certain times in OUR lives.

MinesInDoubly said...

Thanks John. Truer words could not be spoken. I look forward to interviewing you here and doing a review of the new stuff. Then maybe a review of the first album shortly thereafter.

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