Possibly if you were born in the 80’s years more, years less, this band musicalized your adolescence. Pearl Jam faithfully represented the feeling of being suffered, that emptiness, that anguish to grow, and that unbridled force to go out into the world. The founding band eddie Vedder (vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar) and Jeff Ament (bass) was formed in 1990 after the dissolution of Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog.
Their debut album, Ten, was released on August 27, 1991, with 11 songs that were mostly written by Eddie Vedder, who received the demos of the songs and during the night put the lyrics to them. Vedder said about it, “All I believe in is this fucking moment, like right now. And that’s really what the whole album is about.”
Tragedy, death, pain, resilience, a tribe of people that already spans several generations and of course songs that were forever incarnation, are a fundamental part of the success of this album, which since its release, has been certified platinum 13 times and is one of the best-selling debut albums of all time. That said, let’s talk specifically about TEN, which was released by Epic Records, and wasn’t an immediate hit, but got its visibility after the Nirvana explosion, with the release of Nevermid and their hit “Smell Like Teen Spirit.” The album opens with Once, part of the three songs that would form the Mamasad trilogy, and closes with Release, a meaning. And in the middle, and during, we get into social and personal issues that make the album a masterpiece.
Themes such as the homeless in “Even Flow” and the sufferings in psychiatric hospitals in “Why Go”, to incest in the very personal “Alive” or “Jeremy” whose music video is inspired by a true story of a student, Jeremy Wade Delle, who shot himself in front of his classmates. To the heartbreaking “Black”, infallible every time the band gets on stage, make up the accumulation of songs that make up the first album with which we know the band. In addition Ten contains a two-part track called “Master/Slave” which opens and closes the album. The first part “Master” can be heard just before “Once” begins, and the second part “Slave” closes the album, after “Release”. Eleven, Alive and Footsteps: The Mamasad TiologyThe trilogy begins with “Alive” and tells the story of a young man, who in his childhood his mother confesses to him that the father he believed he had all his life, was not such, and that his father is actually dead. And as, at the death of his supposed father, he begins to have an incestuous relationship with his mother. The story continues in “Eleven” where it is narrated how this character, because of his resentments and the things he lives as a child, lead him to become a serial killer. The trilogy concludes with the song “Footsteps”, where it is told how this person is already under arrest and, with little to die executed, tells his misfortunes from prison. Two of the three songs, Once and Alive, would be released on Ten, while Footsteps would be released as the B-side to the single Jeremy.
Alive : The curse of Vedder that the public resignedAbout the story of Alive, the third track of the album, Vedder told, on some occasions what it meant to write about a personal fact that he called a “curse” and how the audience over the years was transforming that feeling and resignifying that pain.” It was the first song we wrote as a group and we played hundreds of times, it has been transformed over the years, not only by the musical arrangements, but by the interpretation,” explains Eddie “The original story I tell in the song, is that of a young man, somewhere, receiving some shocking truths. One of these is that the man she believed was her father wasn’t. And the second truth was that this man had died a few years ago. But when the mother reveals this information to this subject, it made that young man, who was not emotionally unstable until that moment, become confused. I know, because I met that young man. It was me.”
The album is full of feeling, and stories and over the years it was transformed with each presentation, however its brand is also perceived in its cover, which portrays the members of the band united by the palms of their hands with their arms raised. The cover features a real wood cutout made by Ament.
Dave Krusen described the concept of the album cover, which shows the band all together, mostentating “unity.” Jeff built this huge wooden cutout from Pearl Jam. That thing we stand up to was life-size! Jeff is an amazing artist from start to finish”Ament said, “The original concept was about really being together as a band and about entering the musical world as a real band… a kind of ‘all for one’.
TEN in numbers As we already said, Ten was not a successful album at first, it took four months to enter the U.S. Billboard 200 and did so at number 155.However, a year after its release it reached number two. Eventually, it would remain on the list for 250 weeks (5 years). The album has sold over 13 million copies in the United States alone, being certified 13 times platinum by the RIAA and remains Pearl Jam’s most successful album.
With all this data, and today on the 30th anniversary of this musical gem, I don’t know what you’re waiting for to go play and celebrate being alive! to keep listening to it.