Deep Cuts: Pearl Jam

Read the entire Pearl Jam Deep Cuts list, and check out Bullz-Eye’s review of the new self-titled Pearl Jam album.

A confession: I can’t remember the last time I played Ten start to finish. It’s been years, quite a few of them, in fact. And yet, I’m one of the biggest Pearl Jam fans you’d ever meet. So why have I neglected Ten, one of the defining albums of the 1990s and the most significant release in my own music universe, for so long? I guess I’ve outgrown it. It’s no big deal. I’m not putting it down, and I’m certainly not forgetting the impact it had on me and so many others more than a decade ago. The album just doesn’t ring true for me anymore.

In a very tangible way, I’ve grown up with Pearl Jam, or at least with their discography. Every release had songs that I instantly and eagerly latched onto, some admittedly more than others, and more than a few of those songs have provided me with insight into some of my own questions about life. Now, 12 years after I first heard “Black” on the bus ride to a track meet in high school, I don’t have those same questions. I’m about to turn 30, so I guess that’s a good thing. I just hope kids in high school today are listening to Ten.

So consider this all a disclaimer, because you’ll only find one song from Ten on this list of Pearl Jam Deep Cuts, and just one from Vs., the band’s sophomore release. Aside from the reasons I laid out above, everyone’s heard Ten and most people have heard Vs. too, so uncovering more than one or two true deep cuts from each album is next to impossible. Besides, the music from the band’s more recent releases, including their new self-titled album, is simply better than the stuff they were putting out in the early ‘90s. It’s true. Just like I’ve outgrown Ten and the whole grunge “thing,” Pearl Jam has too.

“Porch” – Ten
Like so many people, I played Ten to death, but I couldn’t kill “Porch.” For a long time, “Black” was my favorite cut off their debut but, while “Black” has faded a bit, “Porch” has endured. Nobody knew it at the time, but this song offered the clearest preview of what was to come. In fact, without “Porch,” there may never have been a “Corduroy,” and see if the opening riff of “Severed Hand,” off the band’s latest album, sounds at all familiar. Forget why you used to love Pearl Jam so much? Play this song.

“Leash” – Vs.
“Drop the leash, drop the leash / GET OUTTA MY FUCKIN FACE!” Gee, why did high school boys dig this song so much? This song should’ve made it clear to everyone that Pearl Jam was more than just a grunge band. “Leash” is one ballsy rocker that still sounds great 13 years later.

“Last Exit” – Vitalogy
Those who claim Pearl Jam went soft with Vitalogy need only listen to the album’s first track to drop that notion. Raw, defiant and edgy, “Last Exit” is the pitch-perfect opener for Vitalogy, an album crammed with jagged lyrics, crunching guitars and bold experimentation. It also served as an early notice from the band, an indication that things were going to be a little different this time around. Listen to Eddie roar, “Let my spirit paa-aaaass!” and try calling him a softie.

“Whipping” – Vitalogy
One of the best cuts from Vitalogy is the single “Not for You,” in which Eddie shouts at everyone greedily clutching his band’s coattails, “This is not for you / Oh, it never was for you / Fuck you!” That retaliatory mood also churns throughout “Whipping,” a relentlessly paced song that confronts the backlash Pearl Jam experienced from fans, critics and label execs who resented the band’s refusal to stagnate and follow up Ten with Eleven: “They don’t want no change / We already have.” In many ways, “Whipping” represents a more mature and refined “Leash,” just as aggressive but much more focused, and instead of “Get outta my fuckin’ face!”, Eddie growls, “Don’t mean to push / but I’m being shoved!”

Find the entire list here.


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