Pearl Jam’s rookie debut “Ten” was released 31 years ago today, August 27, 1991.
Following the dissolution of their previous band Mother Love Bone in 1990, bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard began rehearsing with guitarist Mike McCready. The group recorded a five-song instrumental demo tape with Matt Cameron on drums. Copies of the demo were eventually given to drummer Dave Krusen and vocalist Eddie Vedder, both of whom were invited to audition for the band in Seattle. Many of the songs on Ten were instrumental jams or reworked Mother Love Bone songs for which Vedder composed new melodies and lyrics.
Despite its reputation as a quintessential grunge record, Ten is often noted for displaying a stronger classic rock influence than other contemporary grunge releases. In a review for AllMusic, Steve Huey asserts that the album’s “intricately arranged guitar textures and expansive harmonic vocabulary… especially recalled Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin” and characterizes the album as having an “anthemic” and “warm, rich sound”. Huey also praises Vedder for the “highly distinctive timbre” of his vocals and for the “passionate commitment of his delivery”.
Ten was not an immediate success, but by late 1992 it had reached number two on the Billboard 200. The album produced three hit singles: “Alive”, “Even Flow”, and “Jeremy”. “Jeremy” became one of Pearl Jam’s best-known songs, and received nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Hard Rock Performance at the 35th Grammy Awards. The video for “Jeremy” was heavily rotated by MTV, and received four awards at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year and Best Group Video.
Beyond its role in consolidating the mainstream success of grunge rock in the early 1990s, Ten is generally considered to have been instrumental in the rise and dominance of alternative rock throughout the decade. The album has since been ranked by several publications as one of the greatest albums of all time. By February 2013, it had sold 13 million copies in the US, becoming the 22nd record to do so in the Nielsen SoundScan era and has been certified 13× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Ten remains Pearl Jam’s most commercially successful album.
Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten,’ which turns 30 today, stands tall as one of the most iconic records of its era.
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