'Ten' + 18

Metroland | April 23, 2009
One of the biggest selling "alternative" albums of all time is finally ripe for reissue, and 18 years after its release and subsequent explosion Pearl Jam's Ten may finally be in a position where hindsight can treat it fairly. For, particularly if you were a teenager with any feelings of disenfranchisement in the early 1990s, you most likely hold a special place in your heart for this record. Unless of course you were one of those who decried it as overdramatic, bombastic, or "classic rock" (the latter of which would later be used in the album’s defense).

Well, yes. Ten is overdramatic, and bombastic, and pretty much everything you could want from a debut rock record. It's got chutzpah! It's also got strong performances across the board, from that so-familiar mega-solo over the coda of "Alive" to the dynamic, free-for-all jam on "Porch." And some really good songs, too: While some of the lyrics read like angst-by-numbers (though they sounded so deep at the time), there's a reason tunes like "Jeremy" and "Black" are irreplaceable entries into the rock lexicon. This music helped define the 1990s in part because it was palatable to traditional rock audiences; the band doesn't exactly try to hide their love for Led Zeppelin.

The Deluxe Legacy reissue of Ten pairs the original album (produced by Rick Parashar) with Ten Redux, which finds the 11-song tracklist remixed by longtime producer Brendan O'Brien, plus a half-dozen outtakes from the original sessions, and a DVD of the band's now-classic appearance on MTV Unplugged. The bonus material is negligible—much of it has circulated for years, or appeared in superior forms elsewhere. The remixes offer an interesting conundrum: While they're technically, sonically very clean and clear, the reverb-laden original mixes still come out ahead. Because half the fun of listening to Ten as a teen in the pre-Internet age was trying to figure out what Eddie Vedder was talking about.


Metroland was founded in 1978 as a monthly entertainment guide; a year and a half later it went weekly, continuing to focus primarily on arts, entertainment and lifestyles. In September 1986, Metroland reinvented itself as a full-fledged alternative newsweekly, offering...
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