The Album that left me wanting to rebel against my school teachers in Castlebar

The very first time I heard about a band called Pearl Jam was in October 1992 and although the bands debut album Ten was released in August 1991 it took an entire year or so when on one dark evening upstairs in Casey Jones restaurant that a friend of mine called Declan Swift handed me a cassette tape and (didn’t ask) but told me that I should listen to an American group who had released an album called Ten.

 

Castlebar was never the same for me after I listened to Ten: Pearl Jam pictured in 1991 for promotion of Ten

At the time I was in first year in St Gerald’s college and I hated my teachers, had a dagger for an earring which I got in Jewellery store in Castlebar called Rings ‘N Things.

I hated school and my teachers and I all I wanted to do was rebel against the so called ‘Monastery Brothers’ system. I also had long hair which at the time got a lot of abuse for. (Looking back on those things old photos , I can understand why now)

Pearl Jam’s Ten still hails as one of the top grunge-era rock albums of the decade, and is certainly worthy of its placement the upper echelon of debut albums from across the musical spectrum.

The album, released via Epic Records,  is filled with songs that are now considered classics in rock circles, and many of them now transcend the grunge genre to be considered “classic rock”. The band injected a large amount of excitement and unpredictability to the world of rock and roll during the height of the highly-commercialized MTV era of American pop music, and acted as a bridge between the mainstream and Seattle’s blossoming alternative music scene at the time.

 

 

After a decade’s worth of synths, drum machines, and digital studio effects throughout the 1980s, Pearl Jam was a well-received breath of fresh air when Ten was released in August 1991, and the album propelled Eddie Vedder  and company towards being one of the biggest and most influential bands of their 

 

 

In late 1988, a band called Mother Love Bone ruled Seattle’s underground music scene. The music being played was in stark contrast to what was currently popular on the radio at the time, and it was an exciting era to be a fan of underground rock, to say the least.

 

After two years of gigging locally, MLB was ready to release their debut album and tour the country. After recording their first record, Apple, the band sensed its pending success. Unfortunately, however, tragedy struck, and unique and energetic frontman Andrew Wood overdosed on heroin, passing away at the young age of 24.

 

The band members were stunned, and Mother Love Bone was no more. Bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Goddard Stone Gossard  were beside themselves, and they took several months off to grieve.

 

After the month-long decompression, it became clear that the duo wanted to continue making music. They quickly teamed up with local guitarist Mike McCready  as well as Soundgarden  members Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron  to form Temple of The Dog , but that was never going to last as Soundgarden was would soon be on its own path to superstardom. Temple of the Dog released their sole, self-titled record to critical acclaim in April of 1991, and it featured an as-yet-unknown singer named Eddie Vedder on backup vocals on several tracks, including a memorable duet with the late Chris Cornell on the hit single, “Hunger Strike”.

 

Knowing that Temple of the Dog was temporary at best, a reinvigorated Ament and Gossard formed a new band with McCready that they were called “Mookie Blaylock.” Vedder, who had passed his test with the musicians by wowing his colleagues during the Temple of the Dogrecording sessions, would stand front and center as the lead vocalist and frontman for the new project, bringing with him a wild attitude and an incredible ability to captivate his audience. Vedder proved to be an electric addition to the group, adding poetic, introspective lyrics reminiscent of Neil Young and he showcased a unique singing style that came to define the entire grunge culture. The band quickly renamed itself Pearl Jam, and went into the recording studio almost immediately to put together what would become the material featured on Ten.

Most of the songs heard on Ten were demoed in March 1991 at London Bridge Studios in Seattle. Ament and Gossard took the lead and recorded several instrumentals during this session, where the music for “Porch”, “Deep”, “Why Go”, and “Garden” were all recorded during this time, with “Alive” joining the bunch from a previous session back in January.

 

 

When the full band hit the studio in May 1991 to finish the instrumentals, Ament and Gossard had recorded, Vedder added his contemplative lyrics, touching on issues such as homelessness (“Even Flow”), psychiatric hospitals (“Why Go”), and an intense tale about bullying (“Jeremy”). Even “Alive”, a seemingly uplifting song with soaring guitar solos, is about the painful late-in-life realization that Vedder’s father was actually his stepfather.

 

The album touched on more serious, real topics that were relatable to many younger rock fans around the world. Pearl Jam’s socially-conscious attitude certainly shined through on their debut record, and has remained a hallmark of their career to this day.

This album changed my attitude towards music and made me want to seek out more unheard of bands in Castlebar, it also defined an image for me for the future and opened my mind to the life I was living as a teenager at the time

Thanks ‘Swifty’

Finbar Hoban

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