Music, My Stories

1996 – Part 5.8: Pearl Jam – No Code

I got into Pearl Jam late.

I heard “Even Flow” and “Alive” but didn’t really gravitate to those songs. Then I heard them play “Jeremy” at the MTV Awards and it was intense. Then they delivered a drugged up smashing version of “Rockin In The Free World” with Neil Young and I became a fan.

And when I finally got “Ten”, it was the song “Black” that really made me a fan.

So the fourth album was heavily anticipated. Because of this anticipation, it debuted at Number 1, but it started to spiral out of the charts pretty quickly, because we didn’t really like it, so we didn’t spread the word on it like we did on the earlier albums.

And the band was not a happy band. They had legal issues hanging around with the Ticketmaster boycott on the last tour. Because of that they couldn’t play the venues they wanted.

They couldn’t get along in the same room so they did their parts separately. Bassist Jeff Ament, even walked out on the sessions due to Eddie Vedder’s growing control of the creation process.

Plus they recorded this album in between touring. This meant after doing a run of three hours shows, they would then have to find some energy and inspiration to be creative.

Looking at the Spotify counts, the highest is 20.6 million for “Off He Goes”. This pales compared to the 300 plus million that other songs have from the more popular albums.

The band is Jeff Ament on bass, Stone Gossard/ Mike McCready on Guitar and Eddie Vedder on vocals who were joined by new drummer Jack Irons.

Who You Are

Written by Stone Gossard and Jack Irons.

This could have appeared on a “Tea Party” album and it wouldn’t be out of place.

In My Tree

It reminds me of Joy Division and Depeche Mode.

Off He Goes

Written by Eddie Vedder. The song could have been on the “Desperado” album from The Eagles or a Springsteen’s “Nebraska” album and it wouldn’t be out of place.

Present Tense

Written by guitarist Mick McCready, it’s my favourite track on the album. Slow and introspective.

From the many tracks on offer the above four are my favorites.

The album was varied with a lot of different soundscapes.

I like it when an artist experiments. The issue artists have is how much of that experimenting should end up on the album. If they get it right, it’s genre defining. If they get it wrong, it’s their worst selling album.

The tour in North America was short because of their refusal to play venues controlled by Ticketmaster.

Fans also didn’t like it, as the services of the venues that were not controlled by Ticketmaster left a lot to be desired, with purchased tickets never arriving in time, or tickets just proving too hard to get with the “not Ticketmaster” services crashing frequently.

All artists have an album like this. From this point on I was still interested in what came next for Pearl Jam but it was a try and buy approach.

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