Okay, so who do we have left? Nirvana died with Kurt Cobain. Alice in Chains and Blind Melon have also been ended because of drug-abuse related deaths and Soundgarden has disbanded. Pearl Jam has always been there.
Since “Ten” was released in 1991 ? selling a record 8.9 million albums, according to Billboard ? Pearl Jam has created six studio albums and numerous live recordings. Their seventh album, “Riot Act,” was released this last Tuesday, Nov. 12.
“Riot Act” is another amazing accomplishment by Pearl Jam. All the band members ? Vedder, McCready, Gossard, Ament and Cameron ? took part in the writing on this album.
This time around I think the band is gelling with Matt Cameron, former Soundgarden drummer. The album feels a lot more cohesive and natural. They have gotten a lot of touring under their belts with Cameron and I think they are growing as a band.
The album has some gems on it like the unbelievable “Cropduster,” written by Cameron with Vedder penning the lyrics. This time the “Down on the Upside” Soundgarden feel has permanently melded with Vedder’s voice and McCready’s licks.
“You Are,” another Cameron tune, sends rhythm guitar through a drum machine and has made it the farthest departing from their usual style. Vedder sings “Love is a Tower” over the multiple layers of guitar.
“Bushleaguer” is a Stone Gossard tune with Eddie helping with the lyrics. The song is a blatant attack on our current political leaders. The lyrics are more straightforward than other tunes, perhaps because of the conviction of their feelings ? who knows?
The album closes out with “All or None,” which I am going to go out on a limb and say is their best ballad work since “Release.” The Gossard song flexes McCready’s soloing and features piano by Adam Kasper, who also produced the album along with the rest of the band. The only thing missing from this song is four more minutes.
Since the multi-million-record debut of “Ten,” Pearl Jam’s sales have been decreasing at a steady rate with each album, but the quality of the music has not decreased at all.
If you expected them to just keep remaking the same record, then forget you. But if you’re looking for a solid album, go buy “Riot Act.”
Record Archive and Fantastic Records, as well as the HOG, are carrying the album on CD and vinyl. For information see www.pearljam.com.