In the Name of Pearl Jam
By: Paula M. Sherman
Rocking again with new music from Pearl Jam, fans gather together in anticipation of their new release entitled Yield; which will be out on February 3rd. The following is not exactly a review of Pearl Jam's new music, which has been filling the ears of fans earlier than expected. It's more of an observation of the band and the "rekindling" of the everlasting controversies that surround them and their music due to their busy activities these days. Seemingly, there is always a metaphorical anvil over this band, and it's all very amusing. But what does the music mean to Pearl Jam, to Seattle, and the rest of the world?
In life, regarding opinions and issues, there always seems to be an extreme shift to either left or right, with a few minglings in the middle. With Pearl Jam, the extreme difference of opinion resembles a political debate. What it all comes down to is this band is either hated or loved to death. And there are a few who are indifferent to the whole thing. The people who hate Pearl Jam mostly address their reluctance for stardom, using the group's lead singer Eddie Vedder as the target of their pot-shots. A good example of these anti-Pearl Jamites bleed through in some popular music magazines; demonstrating the ones who want the anvil to drop so the band's efforts slather in an orchestrated bloody mess. The people who love Pearl Jam mostly address the meaningful ascents of their music and how it positively weaves into their lives. These well-wishers, the faithful fans who sometimes stand united, raise their arms under the anvil in support to make sure it never falls.
Whenever I bring the topic of Pearl Jam up to people, I either get a smile of acceptance or the birth of a heated argument. It's quite annoying sometimes, as can be a political discussion. And in reading many articles on the band's new music and endeavors, it all feels like a really bad re-run from Pearl Jam's last release of No Code. Although, I do notice more positive objective words being shed on Pearl Jam's efforts of late. Positiveness started with the reviews of the Santa Cruz show back in November of 97, where Pearl Jam so comically called themselves, "The Honking Seals". This teasingly deceptive title speaks loads about the band. If they ever need a career to fall back on, stand-up comedy should warmly welcome them with open arms. The reviews of their performances opening for the Stones in Oakland, California were also very favorable; regardless of the bickering about whether Pearl Jam was "selling out" with their appearance at a Ticketmaster venue. But now in light of the controversies over their promotional tactics for Yield, the early leaking of this new music onto the Internet, and the resemblance of their new single "Given To Fly" sounding like Lep Zepplin's "Going To California"; we are back to the three-ring circus atmosphere in terms of lop-sided reviews.
The only thing that saves this rhetorical mess are the interviews that Pearl Jam has been granting recently. The overall essence that comes out of their words in these interviews is that they are happy, content, excited, motivated, and they are having fun with their new music. That's really all that matters. Additionally, they are reviving their old songs with a new attitude; which they will most likely be demonstrating on their upcoming tour starting in Maui, Hawaii on February 20th. Personally, after hearing Yield, their thoughts and words match their music. Pearl Jam's travelling some different avenues of sound and style; while again telling us some cool stories along the way. Dare I say they are evolving? I think that's obvious once the words, "It's Evolution Baby!" roared from Eddie's throat in Santa Cruz. He said it all. But "evolution" is a nasty word to the fans who want to hear the angst-ridden "Ten" rock. There's no more angst anymore; just experience, attention, experimentation, passion, and talent.
Like a snake, Pearl Jam finally shed their Seattle grunge scene skin back with the release of No Code. This proved to most to be a big mistake, but it was just the beginning. It marked a turning point for Pearl Jam, as they stood firm to resist becoming mainstream. Despite the tremors of contention, Yield is transmitting a bit of boldness on all levels, while the guys still stand their ground with no signs of cracks in the foundation. Their new foundation, formed after the release of Vitalogy with the introduction of drummer Jack Irons, is a steady one that's going to last a long time. Seattle fans should be proud of their rockers, while they confidently reach out to entertain the rest of the world.
The rest of the world will decide this year on Pearl Jam's recent contribution to rock music, as the band tours to New Zealand, Australia, and then return back to the states to rock some more. But before the live concerts begin, there are some upcoming Pearl Jam events. For details on tour dates, events and other Pearl Jam happenings; go to Synergy.
To the doubters, I suggest a more open mind. To the devoted, I know you'll enjoy and remember that it's not a good thing to steal or vandalize traffic signs. To Pearl Jam, I wish the best of luck and a safe journey.