Toronto Mike

Your Pearl Jam Primer


I'm writing this Pearl Jam primer off the top of my head, because I was there and I remember.

For me, Pearl Jam flew in under a cloud of Nirvana dust.  My ear buds were freaking out over Nirvana's Nevermind when our local alt rock station, CFNY, started playing Pearl Jam.  The media lumped them together as part of Seattle's grunge scene.  I didn't care what they called it, so long as they played it.  Ten, released in the summer of 1991, was a play-through I played through about 4 zillion times.  You can hear Alive, Evenflow, Black and Jeremy on any rock station on any day, but I preferred Porch, particularly this version from their Unplugged performance for MTV.

While waiting for Vs., we got a couple of great Pearl Jam tracks on the Singles soundtrack.  State of Love and Trust was one of those soundtrack tunes that was way too good not to appear on a studio album.

Pearl Jam could rock out with Eddie's wail, but those ballads could carry the night.  One moment you're yelling until your throat hurts and the next moment you've got the lighter out and you're swaying back and forth staring at the stars.  Here's Eddie and his pal Ben Harper singing one such song.

On the morning of my first day of university, I awoke to one of my favourite covers of all-time.  This is Pearl Jam singing Victoria Williams' Crazy Mary for the Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams LP and I still love it.

Studio album #3 was Vitalogy, another Pearl Jam album I got on its first day of release.  Do kids even do that anymore?  Did the internet kill that feeling you get when you'd peel off the plastic on day one and throw that disc you've anticipated for months into the player?

When I first spun Vitalogy, I couldn't get over one track that just got my heart racing.  It's even better live.  It's Corduroy.

I could go on forever about Pearl Jam, a band I've seen live six times.  I've got lots more on my little Pearl Jam in Toronto page, if you're interested.  The weight of the Pearl Jam catalogue is impressive, even without delving too deep into the rarities and b-sides.  For my money, nothing beats Daughter with the extended It's Ok tag.

Let me just leave you with another cover... this one a recent cover of Hunters and Collectors' Throw Your Arms Around Me.

Ok, I lied.  There's only one fitting way to close out a Pearl Jam show, and that's with Yellow Ledbetter.  G'night, all.

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