Genre: Rock (Alternative)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Years active: 1990-today
Cited by some as the most popular rock band of the 90s, Pearl Jam began as a project named “Mookie Blaylock”, after the former New Jersey Nets point guard. Pressured by their label to change the name, they still paid homage to their favorite player by naming their debut album Ten (Blaylock’s uniform number).
Pearl Jam is a curious entity in many different aspects. For starters, they found immediate success with Ten but drew just as much criticism for being a corporate cash grab during the grunge startup of the early 90s. As the decade wore on, however, the band began to deconstruct that image. After their first two albums, they refused to make any more music videos, and, more impressively, boycotted industry giant TicketMaster when it came time to set up tours.
Although they never matched the smashing success of Ten or sophomore album Vs., they still put on one of the best shows in America, and continue to produce new albums. Their last effort, Backspacer, was released in 2009, and new material is expected in 2012.
Pearl Jam’s ultimate legacy will probably be that they are the only band from the “Seattle Four” (Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden and PJ) that survived the 1990s and have never parted ways. Alice in Chains and Soundgarden recently reconvened to try and create some leftover magic, but Pearl Jam hasn’t folded yet, and for that, they have my respect.
My five favorite Pearl Jam tracks:
4. “Yellow Ledbetter”
2. “Better Man”
Also, check out this awesome video of singer Eddie Vedder jumping into the crowd from a TV mast in his younger days: