Stepping Out Onto The Porch

Greetings! Sorry this wasn’t posted on Thursday. Life got just a little wacky and I didn’t have a chance to finish (let's just say that I got a little tired of seeing 'This video is no longer available due to...' on YouTube). But rather than belly ache, we're just going to get into it. For those of you who don’t quite ‘get’ the post title, here it is in plain language: I'm finally going to devote a NRT of one of my all time favorite bands - Pearl Jam. My love affair with them began in 1992 and has been holding steady for the past 14 plus years. Hell, I still hold a glimmer of hope that Eddie will some day leave his wife to be with me. Until that happens, I will continue to feed my passion with late night listenings and many an hour of video viewing. However, we must all remember that before this great band could be created, the stars had to correctly align themselves. With that, I give you the first of a two part series on the MIGHTY Pearl Jam

In the mid 1980s, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were making music with their new band Mother Love Bone. Their first band, Green River, considered a Godfather to the Grunge movement in the Pacific Northwest, received only local success before disbanding in 1987. Following Green River's breakup, Gossard and Ament took up with their guitarist Bruce Fairweather' Malfunkshun's front man Andrew Wood, and Skin Yard drummer Greg Gilmore to form
Mother Love Bone. Side note: the other two members of Green River [Mark Arm and Steve Turner (who was replaced by Fairweather)] went on to form Mudhoney. Anyway, Mother Love Bone was very well received and was signed to a major label in 1989. Sadly, just a mere six months before the release of their first album, Wood died of a heroin overdose - yet another great talent to leave us before his prime. However, this tragedy lead to one of the greatest Grunge gatherings of all time. You see, Chris Cornell had shared an apartment and a close friendship with Wood for many years. After Wood’s death, Cornell dealt with his grief by writing Say Hello 2 Heaven. He then approached Gossard and Ament and spoke about recording the song as a single to honor Wood. They rounded out their group (Temple of the Dog) with Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron, and guitarist Mike McCready who was kicking around things with Gossard and Ament in hopes of creating a new band.

Now, about this time, Eddie Vedder was living in San Diego and working part time at a gas station in between his gigs with funk-rock band, Bad Radio. Knowing he was looking for something a bit more stable, his buddy, and former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, gave him a demo tape that he had received from Gossard (Gossard had high hopes of getting Irons to sign on for drummer). Irons never did sign on, but Vedder high tailed it to Seattle to audition for the vocalist slot. While in Seattle, Vedder made one hell of a splash. He nailed his audition and then sat in while Temple of the Dog worked on Say Hello 2 Heaven and a few others. During a practice session, Vedder chimed in on the vocals to
Hunger Strike and history was made. With the final edition of drummer Dave Krusen, a new band was formed: Mookie Blaylock (named after the NBA great). Mookie Blaylock made their appearance in Seattle in October of 1990 and were later signed to Epic records in March of 1991 where they changed their name to Pearl Jam in order to avoid any kind of trademark issues.

TEN (Blaylock’s jersey number when he played for the NJ Nets) was released in late August of 1991 and the rest is pretty much history. With songs like Even Flow, Alive, Black, and Porch, Pearl Jam began to gain both a following and critical acclaim. But, when Jeremy was released into heavy rotation on MTV, the dam burst. Their interpretation of a newspaper article they read about a high school student shooting himself in front of his English class in Texas brought Pearl Jam to the forefront of the Grunge movement. They were showered with Grammy nominations, MTV awards, and countless requests for interviews.

Then, on October 19, 1993, I stood in the cold waiting for my local college record store to open their doors at midnight so I could be one of the first to own Pearl Jam’s sophomore release: VS. Originally titled ‘Five Against One’, and then a self titled disc, the band changed the title to Vs. shortly before its release to describe the theme of conflict the album presents. Songs such as
Animal, Daughter, Rearviewmirror, and Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town are just some of the highlights of one of the strongest sophomore albums ever recorded.

And that ends the MIGHTY Pearl Jam Part I. Next time, we’ll continue by delving deeper into the evolution of this band (read: Soundgarden breaks up and Pearl Jam reaps the benefits!) as well as take a musical tour. Perhaps not so much the albums, but rather, what these guys do best – LIVE performances and B-sides. And speaking of B-sides, check out this week’s ear candy. As I don’t know when I’m going to be able to get back for part II (my work schedule is in the process of changing and this is going to mean MANY days in sequence), I’m giving you double the pleasure: The flip sides to both Even Flow and Jeremy. Finally, check out the updated Primate of the Week - this species was chosen due to its vocalizations. They 'hoo' just like Eddie. Maybe that's why I love them as much as I do????