Tag Archives: Pearl Jam

The Sound of Music – Ranking Revealed

Over the last while, in an homage to High Fidelity I’ve been writing about my Top 5 Albums of All Time. I used some basic criteria to make the list:

  • Number of songs I like on the album (i.e. the fewer songs I skip over, the better)
  • Emotional impact of the album (i.e. how does listening to it make me feel?)
  • Composition of the album (i.e. are the songs arranged in an order I find pleasing?)

Truthfully, though, I went with my gut. I tried to pretend someone asked me, “What’s your favourite album of all time?” and then answered as quickly as possible. Lather, rinse, repeat four more times. I spat them out in five blog posts with some detailed explanations and stories behind each one. What I didn’t do was put them in order. This post is designed to remedy that.

The first one was easy. The next four? Not so much.

Number 5: Shakespeare My Butt – Lowest of the Low
This is a really fun album with some really happy memories attached to it. If you haven’t listened to this one (and a lot of people won’t have) you should add it to your collection.

Number 4: Ten – Pearl Jam
I saw these guys play shows twenty years apart and the songs they played off this album still held up. This album will never grow old. 

Number 3: Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Turn out the lights, close your eyes, maybe have a sandwich, and play this album start to finish. Best destresser ever. 

Number 2: In The Trees – The Watchmen
Another Canadian gem. Such great lyrics and the vocals are truly a gift to your ears.

Number 1: The Joshua Tree – U2
I could listen to this album every day and not tire of it. It’s the reason it’s #1 and my always answer to the question, “If you were stranded on a desert island and only had one album, which one would you want it to be?”

Of course, no Top X list wold be complete without some honourable mentions! Give these a look-see. I know you won’t be disappointed. I’ll add more as I get around to it. For now, these will do the trick.

  • The Watchmen – McLaren Furnace Room
  • RUSH – Moving Pictures
  • Led Zeppelin – IV
  • The Beatles – The White Album
  • Nirvana – Nevermind
  • Pink Floyd – The Wall
  • The Tragically Hip – Road Apples

Happy listening!

~Andrew

The Sound of Music – Part 5

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the Sound of Music – My Top Five Albums Of All Time. 

My “deserted island” list of albums I’d want to have with me if I were stranded is almost complete. Thus far I’ve presented the following (in no particular order): 

As a reminder, I present my main decision-making criteria:

  • Number of songs I like on the album (the fewer songs I skip over, the better)
  • Composition of the album (are the songs arranged in an order I find pleasing)
  • Memories invoked when I hear a song from the album
  • Emotional impact of the album (how does listening to it make me feel?)

Today, we complete the list with an album that literally helped define a generation. By many it is not viewed in the same regard as, say, Nevermind by Nirvana, but in my opinion, this album was more complex, richer experience that touched a much broader audience. 


Without further ado, I present …

Source: Wikipedia
Released 1991
Track Listing: 
  1. “Once”  (9/10)
  2. “Even Flow” (9/10)
  3. “Alive” (10/10)
  4. “Why Go” (9/10)
  5. “Black” (9/10)
  6. “Jeremy”  (10/10)
  7. “Oceans”  (8/10)
  8. “Porch” (8/10)
  9. “Garden”  (8/10)
  10. “Deep” (9/10)
  11. “Release” (10/10)

I like every song on this album. In fact, I’ve liked every song on this album since the moment it was released. If I were to rank each song from one to eleven the songs at the bottom, Oceans, Porch, and Garden end up bouncing around in my head for hours after hearing them.

I completely understand why the producer decided to open with the song “Once”. It’s a powerful song and within the first minute of the song the lyrics, “Once upon a time I could control myself / Once upon a time I could lose myself” tell us that we’re about to embark on a fairytale journey like none other. Followed by “Even Flow” these two tracks make you feel like all you’ve been doing is climbing, then, without warning like the first big drop on a roller coaster we hear “Alive”, a song just as powerful as any of the others but slightly down tempo. Not to have us get lulled into a false sense of security the album hits back with a 1-2 punch with “Why Go” and then “Black” only to follow up with probably the most iconic opening bass line in the band’s catalog on “Jeremy”. The album continues with songs that alternate between laying low a little and jumping right up in your face until we get to the last song on the track. As far as album endings go “Release” is a formidable choice for the end of this wild ride, though I have to admit that it’s just as fitting to have it as a live show opener. All in all, the songs on Ten are perfectly arranged and are a pleasure to listen to on their own, in order as they are on the album, or randomized on an iPod with a thousand other songs. 

This album makes me feel like jumping around and yelling. Occassionally, a song will come on that’s one of the slower ones and instead of jumping around and yelling it will just magnify whatever feeling I am having in that moment. The themes of the album are dark and uncomfortable and complex, and the feelings it invokes are the same. But most of all, it makes me feel like jumping around and yelling. 

There are too many memories involving this album to list them all here. I remember one of my longest standing childhood friends driving us to a party and saying, “I’m feeling kind of grunge tonight” and putting PJ on in the car. I remember countless days and nights “studying” with Riaz; half written physics equations haphazardly scribbled on scrap paper and Riaz with his guitar in hand and Pearl Jam on the CD player. They are the go-to concert for another friend of mine and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them a couple times with him. I should have seen PJ in New Orleans with him back in 1995 but this girl I worked with wouldn’t switch shifts with me (which was a total jerk move, if you ask me). 

Probably the coolest memory I have involves the pop/ska band The English Beat. I was in Ottawa, Ontario, standing a few rows from the stage with my Pearl Jam tour buddy and Pearl Jam launched into their hit song “Betterman”. They extended the ending and out of nowhere started singing the English Beat’s “Save It For Later”. Fast forward five years and I’m in Waterloo, Ontario (a solid six-hour drive from Ottawa) and I’m in a small club watching the English Beat with my wife when right in the middle of their song “Save It For Later” they start playing a few bars of Pearl Jam’s “Betterman”. I figure I was the only person there who had that experience and every time either of those songs come on my iPod I think of those two concert moments. Also, if you’ve never experienced the crowd participation at a Pearl Jam concert, you are truly missing out. I only need to speak two words on this topic: Baba O’Riley. Look it up on YouTube

So there you have it, my top five albums of all time. Next time, I’ll put the songs in order and give you a list of great albums that didn’t quite make the top five cut but are worth checking out nonetheless. 

~ Andrew

Tales…

… from the road!


This week I’m at the beginning of a mini vacation and whirlwind meet ‘n greet tour of a number of wonderful places in the northeastern United States… and Buffalo. With special Fan Club tickets to the Pearl Jam show in Buffalo on Saturday night, airline tickets being what they are, and me with my new fuel efficient Mazda 3 (Sport, with SkyActiv technology), I made the executive decision a few weeks ago to drive from Buffalo to Cambridge, Massachusetts while making a stop in upstate New York to visit my friend and fellow blogger/writer Gordon Bonnet (his twitter handle is @TalesOfWoah and his blog is Skeptophilia).


But before that I had a few things to sort out. Step one is getting across the border. Last time I made the trip I was harangued at the Peace Bridge by an overzealous guard. In addition to the usual “What’s the purpose of your trip? Where are you staying?” questions the following exchange occurred: 

Guard: “How do you know your friend?

Me: “We grew up together.” 

Guard: “So you’ve lived in the United States?” 

Me: “No he used to live in Canada?” 

Guard: “So why is he living in the United States?” 

Me: “He went to grad school in Wisconsin and then got a job in Chicago. He switched jobs and moved to Cambridge. Met a nice girl and got married.” 

Guard: “So is that why you’re visiting? To get a job?” 

Me: “No sir. I have a job. I just want to visit my buddy.” 

[Handing me back my passport] 

Guard: “Have a good trip.”

Seriously?


This time the trip across was a lot smoother, even if it did take 45 minutes to complete. With it being the long weekend and with there being a Bills game on Sunday it was amazingly busy. The border guard did rummage through all my stuff and check the wheel wells of my car for contraband but other than that it was uneventful. Oh, a lady a couple rows over was detained for reasons unknown, so I guess that was exciting.

Saturday night was spent in a packed arena in the armpit of America watching one of the most exciting bands of the last two decades. Pearl Jam has graduated from 1990’s grunge to good old fashioned Rock and Roll and they put on a show that I certainly won’t forget. Smart phones being what they are I managed to capture a few things. Here’s a taste (oh yeah, I caught myself a Mike McCready guitar pick too):


Sunday brought a quick 90 minute drive down to see Gordon. It was everything I hoped it would be, and then some. I’ll admit it, I have a serious man crush on him and he did not disappoint. Aside from writing a thoroughly entertaining blog, he’s written some thoroughly entertaining books, and he’s a SCIENCE TEACHER! Anyone who knows me knows that science is my favourite -ence. 

We chatted about writing. We talked about art and creativity. I got to see his son working on his art (glass blowing and other assorted glass creations). He made me a cheese and bacon sandwich. He even let me see his writing hole… er… workspace. He probably has the best window ever for looking out of. The picture doesn’t do it justice:

 

So it’s been an eventful weekend to say the least. Tune in next week as I continue my quest to meet as many writers as possible. With any amount of luck I’ll get to tell you what Richard B. Wood drinks at the pub, what kind of flooring is in Alex Kimmell’s house, and where A.J. Aalto’s favourite place is to dump a body.

Stay tuned!

~ Andrew