Sunday, October 25, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 46: Pearl Jam Again!

To those who say randomness doesn't have any artistic merit, I give you another example of great coincidence. On the heels of reviewing the worst...Pearl Jam...ever - I randomly roll a disc from the collection, and it ends up being one of the best Pearl Jam discs ever.

Disc 46 is...Vs.

Artist: Pearl Jam

Year of Release: 1993

How I Came To Know It: Vs. was just another Pearl Jam album my friend Greg bought. It was one of his albums I was always happy to hear in the house.

How It Stacks Up: As noted moments ago, I have ten Pearl Jam albums. I would say Vs. is the second best one - or maybe tied for second.

Rating: 5 stars.

Vs. is an album where every track means something a little different for me. Some, like "Go" and "Animal" are just what I need when I am feeling angry and rebellious.

Others make me chuckle because of the misheard lyrics phenomenon. In "Glorified G" I used to think that "Glorified version of a pellet gun" was actually "Glorified version of a pelican." Of course, that would be silly. In "Rats" I mistook "lick the dirt off a larger one's feet" for "lick the dirt off Olajuwon's feet." This second error is more forgiveable, since Hakeem Olajuwon was a pretty big basketball star in 1993.

Anyway, I find my favorite tracks are the more acoustic ones where Eddie's mournful voice tells us a story. "Daughter" and "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" are particular favourites. The latter deals with dementia, which I am encountering in my own family these days, and so is affecting me even more than usual. Because of the emotional resonance of these tracks and a couple others like "Dissident" and "Indifference" this album gets elevated to a 5 for me.

All the songs on Vs. are strong, and I like that they are very different from each other. Vs. even has a groovy funk guitar lick in "Blood" which I always groove on when it comes up. By contrast, I often find "Ten" (itself a great record) a little too much of one thing by comparison.

In short, Vs. was just what the doctor ordered to get the bad taste of "Back Spacer" out of my mouth, and a fine reminder as to why this band remains one of my favourites. If you have no Pearl Jam, this is a fine place to start.

Best tracks: Animal, Daughter, Glorified G, Dissident, Elderly Woman..., Indifference

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