http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/f10a2a2ffcbae57c9953c1a987756da888a0ed5f.jpg Ten

Pearl Jam


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December 12, 1991

All hail seattle's new sons of Zeppelin, still kicking and shrieking with a whole lotta moxie. Soundgarden bolts out of the starting gate on Badmotorfinger with a nifty high-speed inversion of the "How Many More Times" riff on "Rusty Cage." It then proceeds to upend the entire Zep-lick apple cart, stitching melodic fragments and jarring time signatures together with Frankenstein enthusiasm and hauling the results over hot guitar coals. "Jesus Christ Pose," a searing put-down of somebody with a major crucifixion complex, is as good as Badmotorfinger gets, a runaway train ride of stammering guitar and psycho-jungle telegraph rhythms.

On Ten, Pearl Jam — descended from the late, lamented Mother Love Bone — hurtles into the mystic at warp speed. Singer-lyricist Eddie Vedder sometimes lets his words get way ahead of his good intentions: "I don't question/Our existence/I just question/Our modern needs" ("Garden"). Focus instead on his voice — a ragged, enraged mongrel blend of Robert Plant and James Hetfield — and the Pearls' surprising, and refreshing, melodic restraint. They wring a lot of drama out of a few declarative power chords swimming in echo.

Temple of the Dog is not a band but a one-off project recorded in memory of Love Bone vocalist and OD victim Andrew Wood, with members of both Soundgarden and the future Pearl Jam exorcising their grief with the amps at full crank. If for nothing else, buy it for the eleven-minute requiem "Reach Down," a fiercesome death-rattle blues that may some day come to be regarded as Seattle's own "In My Time of Dying."

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