It’s ironic and yet awesome that 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite bands, Pearl Jam. Though most people came to recognize them from songs they heard on the radio in 1992 when the album went platinum, the band actually came together two years prior, following the death of Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. Wood was the lead singer of the Seattle rock group. The remaining members started working on new material. Guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready joined bassist Jeff Ament and wrote some music, calling themselves Mookie Blaylock (after the NBA star). Jeff Irons was a good friend of the band and at the time was the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He took a tape the trio had recorded and gave it to a then 25-year old surfer in California named Eddie Vedder. After an evening of surfing, lyrics began to form in Vedder’s head that went with the music. He recorded his words to their music and sent the tape back to Irons. When the guys heard this young man’s lyrics and voice, they invited him to Seattle. The results were a new band named Mookie Blaylock. They wouldn’t keep that name, eventually changing to Pearl Jam. One of the original tracks from that demo tape session was a song called Just A Girl, which wasn’t included in the original release of Ten, but was incorporated in the recent re-release of the album.
Pearl Jam's original cast (from left to right) Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Dave Krusen
Starting this weekend, I’ll be presenting a collection of some of my favorite Pearl Jam songs from all of their albums, including some of the concert material they’ve released from their tours. Most, if not all, of these songs were not heard on the radio when the album was released. Often times, if you’re a die hard fan of a band or artist, your favorite tracks from them are stuff you’ve heard over and over again on your cd player because you picked up the album the day it came out. Chances are, you don’t even listen to, nor really like the songs that are played on the radio. You might even feel like those tunes don’t properly reflect the sound and value of the band or album. That’s how I feel about Pearl Jam. Ten was a great album, and all of the songs are great. The ones most people recognize are Jeremy, Black (the best breakup song bar none), Alive, and Even Flow.
Those are great tracks. I prefer the live versions of them (with Matt Cameron on drums because he’s much more talented than original drummer Dave Krusen). But some tracks that never made it on the radio airwaves only compliment the driving rock tunes that most people know. I’m talking about songs like Once, one of the songs originally written and recorded while Mookie Blaylock was looking for a lead singer (and a song from the demo sent to Vedder). The song tells the story of someone’s deterioration into insanity that leads them to become a serial killer. Other great songs from Ten include Garden, and Release Me. You’ll hear some of these on the upcoming series Pearl Jam, Celebrating 20 Years Of Ten, starting this weekend.
I won’t stop at Ten though. The first hour of the series for The Appetizer also includes music from their albums No Code, Vitalogy, and Vs, all tracks that are well known by fans of the band. You can hear the music of Pearl Jam, this weekend on The Appetizer. The show airs Saturdays at 3P on KVLU-1 in Beaumont, Tx, Saturydays at 9PM on KACU in Abilene, TX and Sundays at 9PM on KTRL in Stephenville, Tx. If you don’t live close to any of these places, click on their call letters to go to their page and listen live online at the time the show airs. And let me know what you think.
You can find more insights into the music and story of Pearl Jam on this website, www.feelnumb.com. The band also just announced a special live cd set to release next year to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Information can be found here.
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