Why is Pearl Jam’s Ten on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
The pinnacle of Pearl Jam’s output. At least so far.
What does Pearl Jam’s Ten mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
I have a little bit of a strange relationship with Pearl Jam. I often find myself appreciating more than enjoying their music, as strange as that is to state.
Some of it I like quite a lot, whereas a lot of is just kind of… fine. Heretical talk for hardcore Pearl Jam fans, I know. Additionally, much like fellow Seattle-based megaband Foo Fighters, I’ve found that each band’s debut album to be the pinnacle of their output. At least so far.
Which brings us to Ten. On this smash hit of an album, there are four “huge” songs: “Even Flow,” “Alive,” “Black,” and “Jeremy.” I’ve heard these songs countless times – and their music videos were on heavy MTV rotation back in the day. For me, three of them hold up really well and help to make this a great album and best 1,000 albums ever worthy.
If I had to choose a favorite, it’s “Even Flow.” It contains a combination of the band’s best hard rock riff and its best chorus. This song is programmed to get a crowd going, and Eddie Vedder’s voice sounds fantastic.
“Alive” is arguably even more of an arena rocker, and its chorus comes in a very close second to that of “Even Flow.” And it’s the one that, no matter how obliterated one is close to the time when Last Call comes around, can be screamed for all its might with some semblance of clarity.
“Black” shows surprising sophistication for a debut album, and a depth that most bands – “grunge” or otherwise – couldn’t hope to ever match. And most importantly, it’s a beautiful song, subtly dark and haunting.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Pearl Jam’s Ten
A picture popped up recently on one of my social media feeds that brought back a flood of memories.
Among my group of high school friends, a surprisingly large percentage wound up heading off to three colleges: Cornell University in Ithaca, and the State Universities of Buffalo and Binghamton (all located in New York state).
As I’ve brought up many times before, I attended the latter, and was absolutely thrilled to get accepted due to, in part, a chunk of high school crew was already there or were heading there. Cornell was a good place to gather for all of us as it was the closest thing to a halfway point between Buffalo and Binghamton in the wide-open stretch that is western New York.
As an aside, I had a recent conversation with my mother about where I would have headed to college had I not gone to Binghamton. It’s likely that I would have gone to Buffalo, and I think I would have also had a great experience based on my frequent college road trips to visit friends there.
The picture is of a gathering that the aforementioned high school crew made to Cornell for the occasion of our guy Larry’s birthday. My memory is hazy as to exactly when this took place, but it was fall semester of either my freshman or sophomore year.
The most striking thing about the picture, as viewed today, is how impossibly young we all look. We also look like we easily could have been extras on a 1990s TV show such as Party of Five or My So-Called Life.
There was a nice group of us there, and we slept in a dorm room lounge while we were there. This was a terrible idea on multiple fronts. The lights could not be shut off, for one, and one of them had that classic industrial buzz. Sleep was not a friend, one could say.
But we were young and hearty, and the trip was a blast. Larry’s dorm suite mates had the outstanding idea to pull a pretty elaborate prank on our guy, which turned out to be the classic “reassemble the subject of the prank’s entire bedroom, furniture and bed included, outside of the subject of the prank’s bedroom.”
Which turned out to be the dorm room lounge. So Larry may have slept in the lounge with us one of those nights, but I can’t quite recall.
Larry was – and I believe still is – a huge Pearl Jam. I’m not sure if he had a poster of Pearl Jam’s Ten on his Cornell University dorm room wall, but it feels like he did, so let’s just say that he did for the story’s sake.
Some stats & info about Pearl Jam – Ten
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Grunge, Seattle Bands
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #160
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Ten released? 1991
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #790 out of 1,000
Pearl Jam’s Ten on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.