Ten – Pearl Jam

Ten by Pearl Jam. If you were born before 1980 you probably own this album already. Possibly on tape.

Ten by Pearl Jam. If you were born before 1980 you probably own this album already. Possibly on tape.

Another culprit in the series of “Albums I have been obsessed with“.

Ten, by US grunge rockers Pearl Jam, came out in 1992, when I was just heading into the sixth form. Even now, just listening to the scraping moan of the intro takes me straight back to a world of teenage angst, black eyeliner, check shirts with miniskirts, coloured tights and Doc Marten boots, all-consuming crushes on unsuitable boys and drinking K cider in a graveyard.

While the cooler kids raved about Nirvana, Faith No More, PWEI, Pantera and Mudhoney, I flew the flag for Pearl Jam. Sure, I loved Nevermind and Angel Dust in a big way*. But time and again I would pull out my battered cassette version of Ten, slap it in my Walkman, put on a suitable scowl and stamp off into the difficult world.

From the screaming energy of Once, Porch and Why Go to the melancholy of Black and Garden, or the epic swell of Oceans and lurching swirl of Deep, every song is a masterpiece, in my opinion.

But even on an album where every track is my favourite, my favouritest of them all is Jeremy – social commentary delivered through the medium of awesome power pop. The song starts with chiming harmonics, then crashes in with a massive hook and even bigger chorus.

It’s not as edgy or raw as many of the other songs on the album (and certainly much more polished and commercial than many of the other big grunge hits at the time) but this tale of a tortured misfit was music to my teenage ears.

Here’s the video from Youtube:


If you’re in your thirties you probably own Ten already.  If you don’t, you really should.  Just don’t bother buying the deluxe legacy edition. “Bonus tracks”, you say? Ah, “Tracks not as good as the ones on the original album” you mean. Except possibly State of Love and Trust. Which still sounds much better live.

*For the record, Angel Dust by Faith No More is an AWESOME album, and easily one of my favourites. And I wore out my Nevermind tape. But they never wormed their way into my psyche in the same way as Ten, which is what this is all about.

2 responses to “Ten – Pearl Jam

  1. YES! Awesome album. I also managed to wear out my bootleg cassette of it and I had to actually buy a copy for myself. “Oceans” still gives me chills.

    It should also be noted that Pearl Jam’s best song ever, “Yellow Ledbetter”, didn’t even make it on the album. They used it as the B-Side to “Jeremy”.

    And I do believe that you meant to say that “State of Love and Trust” is better Unplugged: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmKpUrKQkiM

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