joshthevegan: (woody)

Around the time Pearl Jam was recording the follow up to their hugely successful debut, Ten, the members were involved in a number of struggles with the powers that be, most famously singer Eddie Vedder taking on Ticketmaster. In addition to these real conflicts, the media was painting a contest between Pearl Jam and fellow Seattle-ites Nirvana, which Pearl Jam has vocally said was a complete fabrication. It is for these reasons that they titled their sophomore effort Vs. (initially Five Against One for similar reasons).

The cover art, a black and white photograph of a sheep taken by bassist Jeff Ament, is representative of the way the band felt at the time. While they were grappling against things they found unjust with all their might, they still often felt like they were trapped in a cage.

On a personal level, I was 12 when Vs. came out, and the older guys that I hung around with at the time were all huge Pearl Jam fans, and they were among the 1.3 million people that purchased copies the first week the record was out. Seeing copies of this CD going around, I couldn't help but be drawn to this powerful image. It also didn't hurt that some of the best music ever recorded also happened to be included on the bright orange disc.
joshthevegan: (screamy)

After spending many years intermittently playing in a number of bands, Mike McCready was invited by his childhood friend Stone Gossard to start a band. Gossard had previously played in a few bands with bassist Jeff Ament, so they invited him to join as well. The trio joined up with a few members of Soundgarden to record a tribute to the deceased singer of Mother Love Bone, Andrew Wood, dubbed Temple of the Dog. After this venture, the three recruited Eddie Vedder as a vocalist, and formed what is today Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam rose to fame very quickly, aided in no small part by the amazing guitar work of Mike McCready. His solos on songs like "Alive" and "Animal" helped turn the band into a stadium rock phenomenon through the first half of the 1990's.

As time has gone by, Pearl Jam has intentionally made decisions that have seen them morph from the massive act that every rock magazine is talking about to a cult band with a huge, loyal following (which still allows them to play stadiums in basically any city they go to). Their songs are a bit less flashy these days, and because of this the extended solos are a thing of the past, but McCready still manages to work some tasty little licks in from time to time.

McCready has said that the solo he recorded for the Temple of the Dog song "Reach Down" is one of his proudest moments, and with good reason; it's very likely the best of his career.

September 2014



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