Sunday, April 5, 2015
Song Of The Week: 4/5/15
Song: "PJ20 Song/Improv"
Artist: Pearl Jam
Album: No Album, performed live at PJ20 Festival, 9/4/11
"PJ20 Song/Improv" is a song that Eddie Vedder wrote backstage at the band's 20th anniversary Labor Day weekend festival concerts at Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin. It's a folksy song, much like Vedder's solo material and it celebrates the fact that they made it through the tough times and the long years and that they are glad they made it when the times got good. Clearly it's about a band that is in a very good place and it's a rare treat for PJ fans. The song was never properly recorded or ever played again. Pearl Jam formed as a band back in 1990, hailing from Seattle, Washington. Bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard were still reeling from the untimely death of Andrew Wood, who fronted their previous band Mother Love Bone. Soon Gossard and guitarist Mike McCready began jamming and invited Ament to the sessions. Dave Krusen was brought in on drums and a demo tape was given to former Red Hot Chilli Peppers' drummer Jack Irons, who intern gave the demo to San Diego surfer Eddie Vedder. The rest is history! Vedder laid vocals to songs which would become "Alive", "Once" and "Footsteps" and Pearl Jam was born! The band was quickly signed by Epic Records and in 1991 released their debut album "Ten". One of the most influential hard rock records of all time, "Ten" has gone on to achieve 13x Platinum status! It spawned PJ staples such as "Alive", "Evenflow", "Jeremy", "Black" and "Release". Krusen soon departed the band, replaced by the short lived Matt Chamberlain and eventually Dave Abbruzzese. Pearl Jam made a name for themselves at this time as a live band, something that they are noted for to this very day. In 1993, PJ released "VS". This album sold 950,378 copies in it's 1st week, a record that was held until 1998. The album featured the singles "Go", "Daughter", "Animal" and "Dissident". The band was on top of the world at this time, at the forefront of the Seattle/grunge musical movement alongside bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana. A lengthy battle with Ticketmaster would almost consume the band however. 1994 saw the band release "Vitalogy". Abbruzzese was fired from the band at this time and replaced by Jack Irons. "Vitalogy" became the 2nd fastest selling album in history, moving 877,000 copies in it's first week of sales. The album featured the songs "Spin The Black Circle", "Not For You", "Corduroy", "Better Man" and "Immortality". The Ticketmaster battle was still going on, limiting the venues with which PJ could play and ultimately killing their tour. Pearl Jam was not happy about the service fees Ticketmaster was charging fans and tried to boycott their venues. It was a battle that almost destroyed the band as their live shows were so much of what they were about. In 1996, the band scaled back their sound and got a little experimental with their new release "No Code". This album featured the singles "Who You Are", "Hail Hail" and "Off He Goes". In 1998, the band dropped "Yield". This album marked a return to form for the band and it also marked a return to the entire band contributing material to a record. "Vitalogy" and "No Code" were essentially Eddie Vedder albums with little contributions from the rest of the band. "Yield" was a full band effort and a breath of fresh air for Pearl Jam. The album featured the songs "Given To Fly", "Wishlist" and "Do The Evolution". Irons left the band at this time and was replaced by Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron, who is still the band's current drummer as well as still playing with Soundgarden. The band released their very first live album "Live On Two Legs" this year as well. They also covered the old J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers song "Last Kiss" and released it as a single. "Last Kiss" became the band's highest charting single. 2000 saw the band release "Binaural". Featuring the songs "Nothing As It Seems" and "Light Years", "Binaural" became the first Pearl Jam album not to achieve platinum status. Pearl Jam also recorded each and every concert during their "Binaural" tour and sold them marking the first time that one band had that many albums debut on the Billboard charts at one time, a world record. The band's bootleg series continues to this very day but they tweaked the process by making shows available on their website, either in cd or digital form. 2000 also saw the band endure a tragedy. As headliners of the Roskilde Festival, 9 fans got trampled to death during their live set. This tragedy affected the band very much and made them even question whether or not to go on. Thankfully they did go on. In 2002, the band released "Riot Act". This album featured the songs "I Am Mine", "Save You" and "Love Boat Captain" and was the first album to feature Boom Gaspar on B3 organ. Gaspar is an old friend of Eddie's from Hawaii and has since been on all of Pearl Jam's tours. In 2003, PJ decided not to re-up with Epic Records and decided not to sign with any major label. To fulfill their contractual obligations to Epic, PJ released the b-sides album "Lost Dogs" and a 2004 greatest hits package, "rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003). 2006 saw the band release "Live At Easy Street", released exclusively to independent record stores and they also released the self titled "Pearl Jam" through J Records. "Pearl Jam" was an intense record, a product of society at the time, the Bush administration and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to an aggressive, political record. The album featured the singles "World Wide Suicide", "Life Wasted" and "Gone". This time also marked the first time PJ headlined festivals since the Roskilde Festival. In 2009, Pearl Jam released "Backspacer" through their own label, Monkeywrench Records. An upbeat album by Pearl Jam standards, it featured the songs "The Fixer" and "Just Breathe". 2011 saw the release of the live album, "Live On Ten Legs". It also marked the year that Pearl Jam celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band. They released a documentary directed by Cameron Crowe called PJ20 which also featured a soundtrack. The band also played a Labor Day weekend festival in East Troy, Wisconsin. The PJ20 festival featured Pearl Jam headlining with bands such as Queens Of The Stone Age, The Strokes, Liam Finn, Star Anna and Chris Cornell joined the band for an impromptu reunion of Temple Of The Dog. In 2013, the band released "Lightning Bolt". Featuring the singles "Mind Your Manners", "Sirens" and "Lightning Bolt", this became Pearl Jam's 5th album to reach #1 on the Billboard 200 charts. Currently, the band is slated to do a tour of Latin America in the fall of 2015. Pearl Jam is one of the most influential American bands of all time. Their live shows are legendary and their music has inspired several bands to follow. The band is a lot more judicious with their time now a days, mostly because the members all have growing families, but they always find the time to record new music and perform live concerts. Where they used to release new albums 2 years apart, now it's more like 4 years so perhaps a new album may surface in 2016 or 2017, hopefully sooner! They are not afraid to delve into personal subject matter or political and social topics in their songs and are still going strong as they reach their 25th year anniversary!