(guitar) and Jeff Ament (bass) had both been members of seminal grungers Green River, and later MOTHER LOVE BONE with ex-Malfunkshun member, Andrew Wood, on vocals. When Wood died of an overdose, his longtime friend Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden) put together a tribute project called TEMPLE OF THE DOG (1991) -- Gossard,Ament and new recruit Mike McCready(guitar) were roped in, as was Eddie Vedder (vocals), who had provided some vocals for a demo tape put together by the others.
Once TEMPLE OF THE DOG was in the can Dave Krusen (drums) joined the other four. Flirting with different names on the way (Mookie Blaylock and Reenk Roink), they eventually settled on Pearl Jam, after an allegedly hallucinogenic recipebelonging to Vedder’’s grandmother. By spring 1991, Pearl Jam had begun to play live shows in the Seattle area supporting the likes of Alice In Chains. As the word spread about the Seattle scene, the band signed to Epic and their debut TEN (1992) was rushed out. Although it was recorded speedily, it distilled the pain and attitude of the disaffected, but injected it with an electric, classic rockfeel. Gossard and McCready’’s playing owed as much to Jimi Hendrix as to any punk band. Vedder’’s lyrics and vocals carried a rare, raw emotion, and the soaringly poetic ““Evenflow””, ““Alive”” and ““Jeremy”” took elements of his own traumatic childhood and transformed them into universal experience.
Just as TEN entered the US charts, Krusen left to deal with personal problems and was replaced byDave Abbruzzese. Fresh recording sessions produced ““State Of Love And Trust”” and ““Breathe””, for the soundtrack of Singles, a teen-romance comedy based on the Seattle music scene, starring Matt Dillon. Three of the band members even managed to make cameo appearances as part of Dillon’’s grunge combo, Citizen Dick. Despite this media exposure, the press were less than kind to Pearl Jam, reviewsequating their driven sound with the rock dinosaurs of the 70s, while Kurt Cobain fuelled the controversy by calling them a corporate band (conveniently forgetting their lengthy apprenticeships for some of Seattle’’s finest). The fans on the other hand could not have cared less; TEN outstripped NEVERMIND in the US metal charts and outsold it worldwide in 1992.
A new album was planned for late1992, but touring schedules slowed things to a crawl. Gossard kept himself fresh by working on SHAME (1993), the sole product of his Brad side-project; it was a mellow, danceable mix of psychedelia and funk rhythms. The summer of 1993 saw Pearl Jam providing support for NEIL YOUNG and tearing into soulful, breathtaking versions of old favourites along with fresh punk-inspired material. They joinedYoung for a powerful version of ““Rockin’’ in the Free World””, a song they reprised later in the year at the MTV Awards.
A new and important alliance had been forged.When VS. (1993) finally saw the light of day, the fan response was awesome, and it entered at #1 in the Billboard charts. The guitars and rhythms raged more freely, and Vedder displayed his vocal and lyrical diversity, with songsof raw, blood-curdling anger (““Go””, ““Animal””, ““Blood””) balanced by mellower textures (““Daughter””). Overall, it sounded more caustic, accomplished and mature than TEN.
Pearl Jam have always gone out of their way to be as accessible as possible; if fans write they will usually get a personal reply. This dedication to the public took a new turn in 1994. While continuing to tour, and makeoccasional appearances with Neil Young, they weighed in against the corporate might of the Ticketmaster booking agency, which they accused of raising prices beyond the spending power of their younger followers. They were joined in their protest by such artists as R.E.M., Aerosmith and, of course, Neil Young, and were to stay in dispute with the agency for the next two years.To show their faith...