Last week saw grunge legends Pearl Jam inducted into the Rock ’N’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Becoming famous in the nineties, Pearl Jam were a key band in the alternative rock explosion at the beginning of the decade. Their first two albums, Ten (1991) and V.S. (1993) saw the band develop a sound more influenced from stadium rock acts such as Led Zeppelin and Neil Young than their contemporaries.
From there the ever evolving grunge heroes experimented with different genres, such as garage rock, new wave, art rock, and folk. In celebration of Pearl Jam’s induction into the Rock Hall, we present with you a list of some of their lesser known songs.
10. Come Back
Featured on Pearl Jam’s self-titled album, released in 2006, “Come Back” is a somber yet hopeful track. Drawing influence from ’50 style ballads, smooth guitar chords and a warm organ fall over a tumbling drum beat. Guitarist, Mike McCready’s lead lines exist between the organ and rhythm guitarist, Stone Gossard’s, chords expertly as vocalist, Eddie Vedder croons overhead.
9. All Those Yesterdays
“All Those Yesterdays” is the closing track on Yield (1998). Another ballad, the track takes a more experimental take with horns accompanying the two guitars. “All Those Yesterdays” maintains a tight groove in-between building up and letting down tension. The track then inevitably breaks into an impeccable solo from McCready while Vedder sings the title-hook somewhere in the background.
The opening track on Pearl Jam’s fourth album, No Code (1996), it was the first listen fans had of the band taking a new direction. Unlike Pearl Jam’s first three albums, which more or less remained in the realm of grunge, No Code saw the band experimenting more than they had ever before. “Sometimes” is a soft, minimal track that see McCready and Gossard playing two perfectly complimenting guitar parts. Vedder sings softly, even in the chorus, as the song looks to explode into a more heavy place but avoids the temptation to.
7. Johnny Guitar
This track features on the band’s album Backspacer (2009), an album that saw Pearl Jam return to their roots in some ways, and experiment with new sounds in others. Taking influence from new wave music, the album saw the return of urgency found in Pearl Jam’s first three albums, but presented it in shorter and less-serious songs. “Johnny Guitar” is a punky, new wave track that showed the band having fun again.
“Evacuation” can be found on the band’s record, Binaural (2000). The album saw Pearl Jam become more diverse in an attempt to distance themselves from grunge. On Binaural the band experimented with neo-psychedelelic jams, folk rock, and post-punk. “Evacuation” is a power-chord driven post-punk track with phased out leads and an off-beat but catchy chorus.
5. Satan's Bed
Featuring on Pearl Jam’s third record, Vitalogy (1994), “Satan’s Bed” hints at the post-punk direction the band would take on future releases. Gossard leads tense verses with power chords as McCready performs almost out of place licks in the background. Vedder sounds deranged throughout the song with it all working together to break out into a sing-along chorus that Pearl Jam’s earlier work is so renowned for.
4. Who You Are
No Code (1996) saw Pearl Jam experiment with word music sounds, with “Who You Are” a prime example of this. The tom-heavy drumbeat as played by Jack Irons is reminiscent of bongos with Vedder’s vocals being backed up by the band providing a gospel feel. Strange chords played by Gossard give a slightly middle-eastern aspect to the track as well.
“W.M.A.”, off Pearl Jam’s second album, V.S. (1993) shows hints of the band’s future experimentation with neo-psychedelic sounds. Dave Abbbruzzese’s drum beat creates a primal, almost African feel to the tune as Jeff Ament’s repeated baseline throughout the track hypnotises. McCready and Gossard then dance their guitars around this rhythmic base, giving and taking away effects laden guitar parts to create tension within the song. Vedder screams racial themes somewhere far above the rest of the band.
A bluesy, folk tune, this track just sees the band utilising an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and Vedder’s fragile baritone. “Footsteps” first appeared as a B-Side on the “Jeremy” single before being released on the compilation, Lost Dogs (2003). The song is meant to be the last instalment of a three part trilogy which also contains “Once” and “Alive”, both found on the band’s debut record, Ten (1991).
Found on Pearl Jam’s massive sophomore effort, V.S. (1993), “Rats” is a track that is often neglected. Beginning with a funky bass track from Ament, the song then locks into a groove with Gossard and McCready’s loose guitars. The chorus then sees the two guitarists tightening up with the rest of the group as Vedder screams above everybody. After the second chorus McCready launches into a funky solo, the grooviest we have probably ever seen from him. A criminally overlooked track, “Rats” is a highlight from Pearl Jam’s second record.
What do you think? What are some of your favourite Pearl Jam tunes? Let us know!
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