637 7.9 01. Ten - Pearl Jam
The one that kicked it all off. There isn't much more left to say once you've sold 10 million copies in the US alone. Most rock music fans (and even ones who are not fans) of my generation has heard at least one or two songs from this album (probably Jeremy and Alive), it's that ubiquitous.
261 7.6 02. Vs. - Pearl Jam
Almost as good as Ten, and still miles better than the best produced by most bands. New drummer Dave Abbruzzese really added an edge to the sound and right from the first song, Go, it becomes clear that this will be a harder hitting album than Ten. The sound is more organic and tough as well as more punkish than their debut.
The album is incredibly consistent as well, almost up there with Ten (which actually had some outtakes that were stunning) in terms of consistency. The only weak song is 'Rats' which just comes across a pointless rant.
199 7.3 03. Vitalogy - Pearl Jam
Vitalogy at it's best is comparable to Ten (and Vs.). The songwriting is excellent and there's some real classics here. The only reason it's not as good as either of the first two albums is that there actually is more than one throwaway song on here ('Bugs', 'Aye Davanita'). Ten had almost no throwaways and Vs had exactly one.
This album brings to a close the classic Pearl Jam era, which saw the band at their best, sold many millions of albums and redefined the sound for an era of music fans.
30 6.9 04. No Code - Pearl Jam
An absolutely bizarre sounding album at first listen. Pearl Jam totally went off the tracks here, and deliberately too. After three albums, they didn't want to redo Ten again. Once you get past the weirdness, it's not a terrible album, but it doesn't touch the sustained intensity or the ability to connect at a visceral level of their earlier work (or the polish and focus of the albums Riot Act and beyond). Coming after Ten, Vs and Vitalogy, this is such a letdown.
About half the songs sound like rejects from a Pearl Jam album - ideas that don't really add up to a decent song, filler in other words. There's still some good lyrics in here, but the music is often so innocuous so as to lull you into a stupor. They aren't as angry or fuelled by injustice as they were on those earlier albums anymore, which is fine. The problem is that they haven't understood how to combine the vibrancy of their earlier work and this new found peace and maturity. Not yet anyway. I guess the band needed to get this one out of their system.
144 7.1 05. Yield - Pearl Jam
Somewhat of a return to their earlier (pre-No Code) sound. Yield sounds very much like softer, gentler Vitalogy, but lacking the manic energy that the harder rocking songs exhibited in their first three albums. Still, this is a marginally better album than No Code, and even modest Pearl Jam is still pretty good music for the most part. The loss of Dave Abbruzzese is really felt here, much more than No Code. This is more of a straight up hard rock record... and it never rocks as hard as either Vs or Vitalogy.
82 7 06. Binaural - Pearl Jam
Another strange sounding album. It does have the few face saving singles, much like 'No Code'. The songs actually sound much better during their live shows, when they are played with a little more muscle and raw energy.
17 8.3 07. Riot Act - Pearl Jam
Finally, an album that feels like a natural successor to Vitalogy. It's experimental, but still driving hard rock for the most part. It reflects both sides of the band's personality, that were split between 'No Code' and 'Yield', finally fusing the two into one cohesive album.
152 7.1 08. Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam go right back to a that is some mix of Vs/Vitalogy/Yield with this album. It's like being transported back to the 90s; in a good way, I suppose. It's a little shocking coming right after Riot Act and the little arty flourishes are missing, which is to the album's detriment. At times feels like the band has overdone the hard driving sound a little, but the feeling passes after repeated listens.
5 9 09. Ten (Legacy Edition) (2CDs) - Pearl Jam
The Legacy Edition combines the original Ten in remastered form with a newly remixed version ('Redux') that brings the album closer to the sound of the rest of Pearl Jam's albums. A handful of the songs had already been remixed for the Rearviewmirror compilation and the whole album finally gets the treatment here.
Honestly, I prefer the new version, it's more muscular sounding hard rock than the original; but I also loved the original for over a decade, so maybe it's not all about just the sound in the end. Either way, I think the Redux version is how Ten should have sounded like in the first place, that's what Pearl Jam sounds like.
46 8.2 010. Backspacer - Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam loosen up, finally, and deliver a hard rock album that isn't trying to prove anything to anyone, or to themselves. They just feel really comfortable with what they are doing and how they sound, and for once just rock out. There's intimate confessions, anthems and even a few pop flourishes - and absolutely nothing sounds out of place.
1 10 011. Vs. & Vitalogy 3 CD Deluxe Edition (Featurin... - Pearl Jam
Remastered versions of Vs and Vitalogy, the two albums the really solidified Pearl Jam's reputation after the blockbuster Ten. They throw in a live performance from this era on the third CD ('Live at the Orpheum Theatre'). It sounds fantastic but I wish they had gone with a double CD version and not edited out any of the songs.
51 8.8 012. Rearviewmirror: Greatest Hits 1991-2003 - Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam made albums but they also made some great songs. This collection also throws in their contributions to the Singles soundtrack and some well loved B-sides. A fantastic listen, start to finish, not a weak moment.
40 7.8 013. Lost Dogs - Pearl Jam
B-sides, rarities and holiday singles collected on a 2CD set. If they had replaced some of the garbage on Binaural and No Code with these B-sides from the singles off those albums, we would have got much better albums. It's unbelievable that they left some of these songs off the studio albums.
4 6 014. Pearl Jam Twenty (Original Motion Picture So... - Pearl Jam
Soundtrack to the Pearl Jam 20 movie. It's rare live performances and even rarer outtakes. There's some great performances and other mediocre ones. An uneven collection, at best.
18 8.4 016. Live at Benaroya Hall - Pearl Jam
A performance that uses a large amount of acoustic instrumentation and sounds almost nothing like their usual live sets. Even the set list is not their usual stuff, with a good measure of rarities and covers. More than anything, it demonstrates the incredible range and versatility when performing live. I'm not the biggest fan, but being an official release, the sound quality is exceptional and there is an outstanding version of "Black".
1 9 017. 11/30/93 – Las Vegas, Nevada - Pearl Jam
A superb live performance from the Vs tour. The set list is almost entirely from Ten and Vs and the sound quality is excellent. Pearl Jam always sounded good live and more punk-ish than their studio albums. There's a Green River re-union at the end of the show, which ruins things somewhat, but this is still an excellent album.
2 7.5 018. Live in NYC 12/31/92 - Pearl Jam
Stunning live set composed of songs from Ten and Vs, with a few other songs thrown in. Pearl Jam always sound great live and this is no exception. Pearl Jam don't always sound as fired up and powerful as they do in this short and punchy set. The sound quality isn't perfect and nowhere near as good as their official bootlegs from 2000 onward, but it doesn't come in the way of the power of the music.
7 8.8 019. Live at the Gorge 05/06 - Pearl Jam
If you buy one Pearl Jam Live album, make it this one. It's actually 3 different performances, one in 2005 and two in 2006. The 2005 concert is a sprawling 36 song set that covers some of their best material till that time.
The two back to back performances in 2006 are even better. There's hardly any overlap between the two concerts, something Pearl Jam frequently does with such events. Together, you get nearly 4 hours of prime Pearl Jam live music.
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