Tag Archives: Pearl Jam

The day he quit, the rocket took off.

There are some bands you create such a bond with that, no matter that they almost copy one set to the previous one, every time they come to your city on tour, you’ll attend their performance regardless. For 10 years I’ve never failed to my appointment with Jonny Kaplan since the first time I saw him in Lleida, and last Thursday was not to be an exception. It’s not a problem either that his last albums are not as brilliant as earlier ones, because he never fails, singing and playing with such groove everything is good vibes, and songs such as ‘Damaged’, ‘Seasons’ and ‘Ride Free’, will always be played for us.

There was a remarkable addition to the band, which was quite appealing for many, and that was the presence of Dave Krusen on drums. You might wonder, who the fuck is Krusen? Well, he’s a guy who happened to record all the drum parts of the debut album of Pearl Jam, as he was in the band.

pearl jam early days

The handover of drummers, from Krusen to Abbruzzese (from Dave to David) in the band was something which remained unknown for some time, and it was something weird in the day. Krusen had played the first shows and had recorded the album. He appears on the cover picture, and there were few promo pictures with him as member of the band. In fact the video of their first single, ‘Alive’, features him on the drums. Apparently what happened was that Krusen, right after the Ten recording, checking into rehab, due to personal issues and alcohol abuse.

How could he deal with the success of Pearl Jam as one of the bands able to be on top for more than 25 years knowing he stepped outside right before they rose like a rocket? What would have happened if he hadn’t quit? Perhaps his life would be sorted out by now, not worrying about which band to play with next, financially secure (even though I’m sure he get royalties for Ten, being properly credited). Or he could have been fired after the second album, considering the main problem of Pearl Jam has to do with the drummers all the time.

I try to figure out how is to wake up every day having this constant ‘What if’ in your head. Probably he overcame this issue time ago, but it must be really hard to cope with a past decision which was so meaningful and decisive for the rest of your life.

He’s been playing all the time since then, being involved in several projects as Candlebox or Unified Theory and playing with established artists, but it was really weird to see him in front of 100 people at a tiny club as Rocksound is, with Jonny Kaplan, who’s a terrific artist, but very low profile in the rock scene.

krusen

So right after the show I went to greet him, not to ask him to sign any stuff nor praise him just for being a member of Pearl Jam, but to thank him for his work in one album that really made such a marking point in my life, being a teenager and so, as to be what I am nowadays: a rock freak. Very humble and polite, Krusen received the compliment in the best manner, and thank me back for expressing such feelings to him.

I understand you cannot harass every musician who has made an impact in your life, and we create this respectful and elevated halo around the musicians up to such point we forget they’re also human beings, and have feelings. But I think if approaching the artist in the right way, not bothering nor interrupting or being impatient, and with politeness, is not a bad thing, but the opposite. Musicians appreciate receiving a feedback on their work, not only in terms of charts and record sales, but also in a more personal and emotional field, and probably this side of the recognition is still the most rewarding.  At least I will keep on doing it the same way. Wish I was able to make an emotional impact on people the way that some have made and still are making on me up to day.

krusen toi

 

STATE OF PEARL & JAM

How many times have I said that MTV used to rock my world 20 years ago? I don’t know, but remember the last time I did, talking about the amazing performance of young Guns n’ Roses at the Ritz. Well, today I have to repeat myself, MTV used to rock, and was a very important contributor to my musical education back in the day.

Probably because circumstances have brought Pearl Jam back to my memory recently I’ve been remembering how much I used to love this band back in the 1990s. My favorite one at least until AEnima by Tool was released in autumn 1996 and turned into an obsession. Pearl Jam was everything to me, and their 3 first albums were the Bible. And of course, Eddie Vedder was THE man.

pj promo

Not sure whether I told you the first time I was acquainted with the band was during their performance on the MTV music awards in 1992. Hell of a night, by the way! Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana almost ended fighting because of  some female trouble between Stephanie Seymour (Axl’s girlfriend) and Cobain’s missus, Courtney junkie Love. On the other hands not only Pearl Jam played Jeremy, but also Red Hot Chili Peppers performed Give It Away, The Black Crowes played Remedy, and U2  were broadcast via satellite with Even Better Than The Real Thing. And GN’R played November Rain with Elton John. THAT was a ceremony.

Sometimes I behave very absent-minded and don’t put much attention into certain details. Some day I’ll write about it (I’ve discovered a good one today). I had seen a couple of Pearl Jam videos not focusing on them at all. It was the energy and rage of that performance what finally caught my attention and  drove me nuts. Vedder’s voice wasn’t at his finest, but his attitude was irresistibly threatening, and you know what’s said, first time, first love.

From that moment I became devoted of the band, started bothering my friends to listen to them (only Diana did, and she’s been a diehard ever since), and also tried to find new acquaintances into the band and that musical movement. I was lucky on this regard.

Not sure why I bought my copy of Ten on vinyl. Probably because at that time it was still more common than CDs, and more copies were available, and also because it was better quality than cassette. I paid the same amount as you get charged for brand new re-issues, it was outrageous, but I accepted as there weren’t many options and wanted to have it badly. First time I listened to it I got freaked out because there was a repeated scratch in first song of side B, Oceans. I thought the copy was faulty but kept it all the same, however, thanks to my brother who took my vinyls without permission to a bar and lost them (first pressing Ten and Vitalogy, a drama), I had to buy another copy on vinyl 5-6 years ago, and the same scratch was there.

Whatever! In March 1992 Pearl Jam recorded an unplugged performance. Up to date, there had been a couple of shows, and the most remarkable one from my point of view was Eric Clapton’s, which become very popular thanks to the song Tears in Heaven inspired by the recent death of his son. Talking about an unplugged performance in 2014 is not interesting, but if you analyze the moment, the band, and the blurry concept of an unplugged performance in the day, Pearl Jam’s should to be recognized as the first rock band to dare adapting their wild and powerful sets to something milder. They were the reference to other bands which followed them, such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots or Kiss, to mention some.

vedder unplugged

I don’t think the audience knew exactly what  they were about to witness, and sure many of them didn’t even give a shit about the band. It took almost two minutes to the band to start the show and ovation was exaggerated, way too much even for Americans, who really are very enthusiastic.

Pearl Jam played 7 songs, my top 3 included, 6 included in Ten, and State of Love and Trust, which was part of Singles soundtrack: Oceans, State of Love and Trust (not many songs in history have such a terrific title), Alive, Black, Jeremy, Even Flow and Porch. You can notice they weren’t recorded following that order, or maybe there were additional outtakes. If there was anyone who tough it was going to be a low and quiet show, he was completely wrong. Probably things get more under control afterwards, as no band got so insane on stage, as far as I can remember.

It’s weird because you know they’re playing fantastic, but at the same time, guitars are very low and drums and bass are most predominant. But it doesn’t matter. This show was a blast.

It was last Thursday night that I watched the unplugged again. My day had been a shit, flu was attacking, and needed something to cheer me up. This time I observed many details I hadn’t noticed before, and lots of memories stroke back, so hard, for 30 minutes I was 16-17 again, and this feeling moved me very much.

It is so amazing to relate moments of your life to music, I cannot conceive that there are people unable to mark relevant point in their lives in the same way and feel pity for them. When Pearl Jam were ruling my life, this was changing, and I was growing up. I felt in love with someone who used to sing me State of Love and Trust, and got disappointed listening to Animal and No Excuses. And then I met another guy who learned to love Pearl Jam with the passing of time, and introduced me to other bands which are now part of the soundtrack of my life. Because at the end of the day, life is made of experiences, memories and songs, and I try hard to compile a good one, no matter what.

20 YEARS AGO YOU WERE IN MY REARVIEWMIRROR

I’m quite sure some of you haven’t yet experienced the effect that the 20th anniversary of the release of one of those albums you’ve been growing up with can produce. Let me tell you something. The feeling is a sweet and sour combination, and sometimes it tends go beyond, because the passing of time reminds that you’re getting old as if it was a twisting pinch. You start enduring but then pain arrives, and it always lefts a mark afterwards.

Since the beginning of this decade this anniversary thing has turn into something very frequent (who the fuck says 1990’s was dead musically speaking?), basically because it was more than 20 years ago I sold my soul for rock, to avoid labeling, to anything which exuded energy and distortion, and was capable of impressing by already stimulated teenager state.

A huge wave of nostalgia invades me, because that was a wonderful time in which every day a new record or a tape felt into my hands, it was like receiving a huge present, my ridiculous record collection was my most valuable treasure and every band was like discovering an unknown galaxy. So young and innocent!

Today I’m celebrating the release of one of these albums, Vs, or untitled when I bought it, with the company of a couple of beers, turning the volume up to 11, and yelling with Eddie Vedder, with the same passion as back in the day, when I thought Pearl Jam was the greatest band on earth.

Vs

In that time I was still assimilating their debut album, Ten. I was recovering from their impeccable performance on the MTV awards. They played Animal first, with Eddie Vedder looking insanely rabid and Jeff Ament jumping like a kangaroo, and then they covered Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World with Neil Young. I remember it was awesome! Old and new generation playing with same passion. I knew about the imminent release of a new album, but it was Felix (hey Felix, where are you?) who reminded me of it. As I wasn’t informed of the exact date of release, and I HAD to have the album the very same day, with some dough I had been given for my birthday separated for this purpose, I started my daily pilgrimage to the record store, waiting for the arrival of the album, with a level of patience and determination which would have been very useful for other activities.

And finally, the day came, and the desired trophy was in my hands and arrived home. Let’s admit the cover is horrible, but that particular smell which my booklet still keeps intact, the artwork with the guns, the bullets, rats, needles, and those cryptic lyrics with unfinished sentences which seemed to be Vedder’s thoughts interrupted by who the hell knows. I didn’t understand anything, but it was awesome anyway.

To be honest before pushing play, I had a slight panic attack, fearing the album was a shit, or the band had lost their sparkle. What if I ended disappointed by my favorite band? This kind of doubt or fear, which makes complete sense, throughout our lifetime music experiences has become something real. Eventually I overcame this fear, and magic came back to my room, and I was happy again. How many albums you can list which can include so many different yet awesome songs as Glorified G, Rearviewmirror, Dissident or Animal?

I’ve been listening to this album a lot these past weeks, and recovering some memories from 20 years ago, and exactly related to October 1993, has been very emotional. Falling in love with someone you barely know, with a band, Pearl Jam, and this album, as the main connection is weird, but I was young, he was older (very very) than me, and reminded me of Eddie Vedder. I couldn’t help it. Oh, Felix! Where are you? There are so many stories I’d like to tell you about myself… Lost your track 13 years ago, you weren’t a bad boy, but never very straightforward either. Once you were in my rearviewmirror.

Aaah, life again!

SINGLES, THE PORTRAIT OF A GENERATION

I’ve heard this morning that the 20th anniversary of the release of Cameron Crowe’s film Singles had been early this week. Unbelievable! This is the kind of things which make me realize I’m not a youngster anymore, and at the same time, the awareness of this fact also invades me with nostalgic memories.

I don’t know how much you’re familiarized with this film, catching a moment of emotional mess  in the lives of a group of six friends in their 20s, living in Seattle. It is basically a cakey compilation of love stories, with one of these generational stunning casts, including Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Bill Pullman and Eric Stolz. And the added value of guest appearances which had to do with the current local heroes at that time.

To be honest, not only the plot is quite simple but also the movie is not big deal. It’s nice and entertaining but it’s not overwhelming. However the great achievement by Crowe was to portrait a generation of American youth in that time, affected by a wave of pessimism caused by the Persian Gulf War, which in a way awoke the ghosts from Vietnam.  And more accurately, he approached the grunge movement in Seattle, the epicenter.

 It took quite a long time to release the film in order to find the most suitable marketing strategy. The big bosses were confused about the bait to attract the audience. Love? Seattle? The voice of a generation? Grunge? Singles eventually saw the light in September the 18th 1992. Here in Spain things took even longer time and the film was released the year after in August, worse timing ever as most Spanish people are away on holidays, so it just lasted one week in cinemas and Singles was unnoticed.

Cameron Crowe has a taste for romantic and mild stories, but also, and this is what makes his movies worth watching from my own point of view, the director is a music lover, and the soundtracks are essential in his films. They are awesome.

What happened to the Americans with Singles and its soundtrack, was the same which occurred here. Officially the soundtrack of the film was released about 2-3 months before the film was released. It included songs from the hottest bands in Seattle: Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Screaming Trees. The first ones released two songs for the film, Breath, and my personal favorite, State of Love and Trust. Chris Cornell also recorded the wonderful Seasons, and the presence of Nancy and Anne Wilson (Heart) as The Lovemongers was also remarkable. This soundtrack was a compilation of the current Seattle scene of the time, and it was the final push to consolidate grunge and turning it into mainstream.

As commented before, Singles was released in Spain in summer 1993 which was a complete disaster. All of my gang, approx 20 boys and girls, were on holidays, and never heard of Singles in town. It took more than half a year to be re-released for just one week again and it was in English with subtitles, something unbelievable in that time, which made the whole experience even more exciting so we could hear “their” voices for real.

Therefore, in early Spring 1994, a gang of 20 went to Eliseos movie theater in our coolest outfits to watch Singles. You can imagine, wool hats, plaid t-shirts, Doc Martens, XL tees with our bands there… it was like attending a live concert. By then we had learnt the soundtrack by heart, thus when we were hearing Nearly Lost You or Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns subtly, we were all singing low. And we were out of control when Eddie Vedder (I was in love with him for many years) and Chris Cornell were appearing. I think we really didn’t pay so much attention to the film because when it was over we thought it was one of the best movies ever, and we were hugging each other as if congratulating for sharing the experience. I kept the film advertisement on the local newspaper for ages. We were 17. We were a bunch of teenagers, genuinely innocent and easily affected, crazy about our most recent discovery and passion: rock, and Singles was the peak of it. And we all were trying to start our bands hahahah

Few years later the gang was missing members day by day, and everybody grew up and moved on.  Most of them are into music, but we’ve separated paths and our tastes are different. We are spread in the world, some are married, some have kids, guys cut their hair, girls left their Martens in their wardrobes… Still in touch with some of them, but in the distance.  Probably I’m closer to what I was back then than the rest of my friends, and it’s funny, because I wasn’t the coolest, nor the toughest, not the most badass in the gang. The truth is that I’m still devoted to rock and music, even more committed than I was as a teenager.

Anyway, at the end of the day what Singles really means to me is the tangible summary of the most intense period in my life, when I started being myself, growing up, taking decisions, getting acquainted with many things, experiences… Singles is the witness of my lifetime choice. Positive, one of the best times in my life.

(*) Johanssen, Vane and Lorenza, hope you read this. I love you!

ALBUM OF WEEK 41 – VITALOGY

This is a bit ridiculous, we are about to finish week 42, and I’m gonna talk about the album of week 41.  This has been a busy week, with terrible flu included, to make things harder. At this moment I still feel like shit, but I’m forcing myself to accomplish certain routines and obligations, so I’m gonna write about my album anyway.

Another week under Seattle influence, lately I’m recovering classic albums from my teenage days. Yes, I’m passing through a serious period of nostalgia. Never happened to me in such remarkable way before.  20 years anniversaries of certain album releases are to be blamed for this state. The funniest thing is that many people close to me are “suffering” same condition.

I discovered Ten late, thanks to MTV, but the following album releases I was ready with money in my pocket to get them as soon as they were sold. Remember with Vs. I was visiting the music department of El Corte Ingles every single day for one month, until the album eventually came out.

Vitalogy was different. In my last high school year, I got close to 3 other girls who loved rock bands and used to wear black clothes. They told me not to buy Vitalogy, so it came in vinyl as a late birthday present. It was a blast, and one of the most beautiful presents I’ve ever received. Not only because for the album itself, but for the effort and the caring attitude of my friends. Not sure Montse will read this, I’d love to, but would love to say thanks from the deepest in my heart. Such things I never forget.

To start with, album artwork is definitely one of the most amazing ones, totally different than anything I had seen before. On vinyl everything is big and clear enough to read, pictures, illustrations, lyrics… on CD I got to know the concept of digipak, a format not very useful when piling up CD’s, but definitely old ones were worth buying, because they were different and special.

Vitalogy is a more mature album, I think, wild times seemed to have gone, and it was time for the band to settle and focus on their future.  Or so it seemed. This album was a changing point.

I don’t know where to start, most of songs are classics for me,  Spin the Black Circle, a tribute to vinyls, beautiful Better Man, Nothingman, or Immortality, insane Bugs… all of them have something special.

Reading some blog posts yesterday, someone told something that really impressed me and now I’m taking as mine (Kar, hope you don’t mind, we share same feelings on this matter). More or less he was saying, talking about Pearl Jam is not just a subject on music, it goes beyond that, it has to do with our lives. And I agree.