Vinyl Vlog 523

Vinyl Vlog 523

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Tuesday, 26 October 2021
COLUMN

Pearl Jam
Alive 12”
(Record Store Day edition)

Everything critical that can be said about Pearl Jam has already been said. What’s left now are just end stories and personal experiences. The validity of “grunge” as a music genre can be debated (and it should be since it’s complete limited to the bands that came out of a certain part of the earth in a certain point of the 90s), but what is a fact is that Pearl Jam was one of the biggest bands on earth in the 90s, and their skyrocket to fame and success is an interesting one.  

It’s said that most bands reach their peak in their second or third album. That can be true in a lot of cases and Pearl Jam’s Vs and Vitalogy are certainly favorites full of their most popular songs. But what we’re covering here is the beginning of it all: the debut single Alive, which has been rereleased for Record Store Day in a beautiful 12” single. Alive is one of those songs that is deceptively simple. We all know the riff, and we all sing along to the chorus, but most of us do an impression of the verses instead of paying attention to them. Alive was the trial for Pearl Jam, which they faced and came out victorious. Released 50 days before their debut album, it helped generate interest in the band and all the attention (some of which unwanted), they received afterwards. It’s funny to think that out of all the grunge bands that came out of the 90s, Pearl jam was the smartest one, embracing vinyl as a viable format, pushing back on corporations, and standing up for women’s rights. And it all started with this single.

There are many forms of this single, and the RSD release goes with the definitive version combining tracks from the different versions of the release. Here we have the album version of Alive, along with another highlight Wash, a perplexingly Give It Away-era RHCP-sounding song Dirty Frank (which is almost unlistenable), and an equally-perplexing (but much more listenable) Beatles cover of I’ve Got a Feeling. I have no clue why they would cover THAT song, when there are many others in the Beatles catalog which would fit their style (Back in the USSR?), but there it is. That’s all on side A and side B has an etching of the famous Pearl Jam stick man.

Pearl Jam might not be everyone’s band (they ARE my cup of tea), and this is a lovely tribute to their legacy. Fans and collector’s take note.

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