Pearl Jam Album Reviews

Pearl Jam grew from the remnants of Mother Love Bone, whose singer Andrew Wood overdosed. Rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament started a new band with Mike McCready on lead guitar and recruited Eddie Vedder as vocalist. The band have gone through a succession of drummers who have all influenced the group’s sound. Dave Krusen anchored the arena rock of 1991 debut Ten, Dave Abbruzzese’s busy style  was highlighted in the aggressive Vs. and Vitalogy, Jack Irons helped facilitate the eclecticism of No Code, while Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron has been the drummer since 2000’s Binaural, and has contributed more as a songwriter than any of the other drummers.

It’s difficult to credit Pearl Jam as innovators, as they’ve always felt like a seventies stadium rock band at heart, but they’re a likable band all the same. They’ve explored plenty of sonic territory while largely sticking to meat and potatoes rock. Opinion is often divided on their best work; many fans enjoy their first two albums and think they fell away afterwards. I favour 1996’s eclectic No Code, but don’t think they’ve ever made a front to back classic album. It might well be worth using 2003’s double disc Rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003) as a one stop shopping solution to the band’s work. lists Pearl Jam as the 14th most acclaimed act of the 1990s, which seems fair or even slightly generous. The emergence of Creed and other less talented but deep-throated pretenders, has made Vedder’s baritone less unique. On their first couple of albums, their music feels like it’s aimed at spotty-faced, angst-ridden teenagers, and Pearl Jam started to grow up on 1994’s Vitalogy as Vedder took more control of the band.

Pearl Jam always looked uncomfortable as superstars, and throughout the 1990s gracefully exited from the mainstream, avoiding commercial success with ploys like not making music videos, including avant-garde tracks on their albums, and releasing an album without a barcode. 1998’s Yield was arguably Pearl Jam’s last gasp of cultural significance and since then they have continued to make respectable records, but it’s unlikely they’ll ever return as the mouthpiece of disaffected youth and instead they’ve been growing up alongside their audience. I haven’t checked in since 2006’s self-titled album, although I did enjoy Vedder’s 2007’s Into The Wild soundtrack more than most of the band’s studio albums.

Ten Favourite Pearl Jam Songs

I Am Mine
Red Mosquito
Nothing Man
Yellow Ledbetter
No Way
Hail, Hail