Monday, May 10, 2010

Vs Ten

Vs was a puzzling one. First, the name. Was it V’s? Or was it Versus? Could never figure it out. And then, what on earth was that animal on the cover? It looked like a sheep, but the scariest one ever. But enough about the skin-deep stuff.

This was when Pearl Jam suddenly got a wind of what fame was and, instead of other bands falling all over each other to get a piece of the gloss and a dig into the drugs, these guys just stepped back and decided it wasn’t for them. It was time to see what the fans really liked. It was Pearl Jam asking their fans: glamour Vs music. Pick one. Surprisingly, a whole bunch of fans chose the latter and stuck around. And it paid off.

This album was brilliant in it’s own right, more experimental in many ways with tracks like W.M.A and Rats. They refused to make videos of any of these songs, though I think they were bullied into allowing concert footage of Animal and Rearviewmirror to get aired on MTV and the like. The anger and musicianship didn’t falter for a moment on any song, but didn’t quite pack the commercial punch of Ten. I don’t think the band minded that much actually.

But this was the beginning of a long period of hibernation from public view. More albums did come forward with more and more artistic experimentation in the music and the CD covers too, but no more videos for a while.

You just had to listen.

Back to Ten - Watching Pearl Jam do The Evolution

I listen to the most recent Pearl Jam albums and find I just can’t relate to them anymore. It makes me wonder what I’ve missed out on? Was there a memo I missed about this drastic change? Or was there something I missed along the evolution of these guys?

So I have started from scratch, Back to Ten if you please, to try and chart their history of 9 albums and see if I can find a new appreciation for their stuff or not. If everyone is saying this is Pearl Jam’s best work in a long time, there’s got to be more to it.

So here I am Once again at the beginning, trying to find an Even Flow (sorry, the word play was irresistible) through their legendary debut album, Ten. There’s not much one can say about this album that hasn’t already been said. Jeremy came along and brought Grammies along with it. The power and unparalleled aggression was inescapable. The epic music still remains as fresh as ever today with bands still doing covers of Alive everywhere you look. Personally, I will never ever get tired of this one.

For one, it was the first album I actually owned back as a wide-eyed lad in New Delhi, circa 1994. I remember endless hours head-banging to each song on my brother’s huge speaker stacks, playing drums on chairs and guitars on the air. This one is truly in my blood. It has a role to play in who I am now.

But it’s time to move on. The evolution continues.