Vinyl Vlog 631

Vinyl Vlog 631

Thursday, 04 January 2024

Pearl Jam
Give Way
Record Store Day Exclusive

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. For me, the album I was really able to sink my teeth into was Yield, and that is an incredible noteworthy time for Pearl Jam. Not since Ten have they had a radio hit as big as Do the Evolution. I have no idea what it is about the song that made it such a hit, but I think the music video, which tapped into the popularity of the MacFarlane style of animation worked to an unexpected degree. It was stark, compelling, uncomfortable, provocative and just plain well-done. It’s what a good music video does. So, even though they had been releasing great albums for years, Yield tapped into the mainstream once again for this band and reinvigorated the fanbase.

It’s in this environment that Live on Two Legs was released. It was supposed to be the band’s definitive live album and it is a great one, but right around the time of its release, the band embarked on a tour and decided to record every night and make them available to fans. That way, you could have the live show you wanted: the buzzed-about one, or the one you attended. Live on Two Legs remained an amalgam of Pearl Jam’s tour following the release of Yield. Unbeknownst to us, there was another live album underneath the surface which was harboring something a little more special. The Sidney show was recorded and broadcast live on the radio and is the only official document of their drummer Jack Irons’ time with the band. No Code was how I really started exploring this band, and Irons’ drumming is how first identified with the band’s music. Hearing him now, in this wonderful, crisp, lively recording, it’s undeniable that he brought something special to the band’s sound, and as good as they are live, the Yield and No Code songs sound like they fit together better with him behind the kit.

I love Live on Two Legs, but I think Give Way is probably the superior official live album. The setlist is better, the energy is more evident, the sound quality is equal if not better, and you hear the band as a snapshot from a single night. Pearl Jam sounds happy and in top form.

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