20 years ago “Ten” exploded out of the blue. The album initially sold slowly upon its release, but by the second half of 1992 it became a breakthrough success, attaining gold certification and by February 1993, American sales of “Ten” surpassed those of “Nevermind”, the breakthrough album by Nirvana. “Ten” bring Pearl Jam to the elite of the Seattle grunge movement, along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain angrily attacked Pearl Jam, claiming the band were commercial sellouts, but later Cobain reconciled with Vedder. While Pearl Jam was accused of jumping on the grunge bandwagon at the time, “Ten” had overwhelming contribution in popularizing alternative rock in the mainstream. The album has been certified diamond by the RIAA in the United States and by June 2011, it had sold 9,869,000 copies, and remains Pearl Jam’s most commercially successful album.
The album produced three hit singles: “Alive”, “Even Flow” and “Jeremy”. Pearl Jam received four awards at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards for its video for “Jeremy”, including Video of the Year and Best Group Video, the band refused to make a video for “Black” and this attitude began a trend of the band refusing to make videos for its songs, despite it being common knowledge that music videos were one of the most vital sales tools in any band’s arsenal.
Released on 27th August, 1991, “Ten” is one of the rock classics, one of the (few) records that actually matters. Maybe meanwhile Vedder and his band mates lost their guts – and direction -, but back than Pearl Jam rocked.
Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were members of pioneering grunge band Green River during the mid-1980s. In late 1987, Gossard and Ament began playing with Malfunkshun vocalist Andrew Wood, in the band Mother Love Bone and PolyGram record label, signed the band in early 1989 and Mother Love Bone’s debut album, “Apple”, was released in July 1990, four months after Wood died of a heroin overdose.
In mid 1990 Chris Cornell approached Wood’s former bandmates, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament with two songs that he had written in tribute to Andrew Wood with the intention of releasing the songs as a single. The band’s lineup was completed by the addition of Soundgarden (and later Pearl Jam) drummer Matt Cameron and future Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder providing backing vocals on several songs as well as a duet with Chris Cornell on “Hunger Strike”. They named themselves Temple of the Dog, a reference to a line in the lyrics of the Mother Love Bone song, “Man of Golden Words”. The two songs would eventually be crafted into their self titled and only album Temple of the Dog released in late 1990.
Ament and Gossard started practicing with fellow Seattle guitarist Mike McCready and the trio sent out a five-song demo tape in order to find a singer and a drummer. They gave former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons the demo passed on the invitation to see if he would be interested in joining the band and to distribute the demo to anyone he felt might fit the lead vocal position. Irons passed on the invitation, but sent the demo to a friend from San Diego named Eddie Vedder lead vocalist for a local band called Bad Radio. Vedder listened to the demo and wrote lyrics the next day for “Dollar Short”, “Agytian Crave”, and “Footsteps”. “Dollar Short” and “Agytian Crave” were later retitled “Alive” and “Once”. Gossard and Ament heard the demo with Vedder’s vocals and lyrics, and were impressed enough to fly Vedder out to Seattle for an audition. Meanwhile, Vedder had written lyrics for “E Ballad”, retitled “Black”. Vedder went to Seattle and rehearsed with the band joined also by drummer Dave Krusen for a week, writing eleven songs in the process. Vedder was hired as the band’s singer, and the group signed to Epic Records shortly thereafter.
The band, then named Mookie Blaylock, entered London Bridge Studios in Seattle, Washington in March 1991 with producer Rick Parashar. Tim Palmer was hired to for mixing the album. Palmer decided to mix the album at Ridge Farm Studios in Dorking. Palmer also made a few additions to the already-recorded songs, including having McCready finish up the guitar solo on “Alive” and tweaking the intro to “Black”. Palmer overdubbed a pepper shaker and a fire extinguisher as percussion on “Oceans”.
02. “Even Flow”
04. “Why Go”
11. “Release” (contains the hidden track “Master/Slave”)
Total length: 53:24
Stone Gossard – Guitars
Jeff Ament – Basses
Mike McCready – Lead Guitars
Eddie Vedder – Vocals
Dave Krusen – Drums
Rick Parashar – Piano, Organ, Percussion
Walter Gray – Cello
Tim Palmer – Fire Extinguisher, Pepper Shaker
Concerns about trademark issues necessitated a name change; the band’s name became “Pearl Jam”. The debut album was namemed “Ten” Ten after Mookie Blaylock’s jersey number.
In subsequent years, band members have expressed dissatisfaction with the way the album’s mixing turned out. Ament said, “I’d love to remix Ten. Ed, for sure, would agree with me…It wouldn’t be like changing performances; just pull some of the reverb off it.”
On March 24, 2009, Ten was reissued in four editions (Legacy, Deluxe, Vinyl, and Super Deluxe). It is the first reissue in a planned re-release of Pearl Jam’s entire catalogue that will lead up to the band’s 20th anniversary in 2011. The extras on the four editions include a remastering and remix of the entire album by producer Brendan O’Brien, re-designed packaging, six bonus tracks.
Regarding his remix of the album, O’Brien stated, “The band loved the original mix of Ten, but were also interested in what it would sound like if I were to deconstruct and remix it…The original Ten sound is what millions of people bought, dug and loved, so I was initially hesitant to mess around with that. After years of persistent nudging from the band, I was able to wrap my head around the idea of offering it as a companion piece to the original â€” giving a fresh take on it, a more direct sound.”
The “Ten” reissue sold 60,000 copies in its first week, the second biggest selling week for the album since Christmas 1993.
I really loved – and still loving it – “Ten”, “Even Flow” is probably one of the biggest rock anthems ever and “Ten” have an incredible live/alive vibe, that album breathing as a live recording, it’s something almost incredible. And “Ten” have no fills, it have 11 great songs. Back then Vedder was a rocker and not a rock star and “Ten” is a strong rock album as rarely were released ever since. Vedder singing style was widely imitated and copied ever since.
To date, the band has sold over 30 million records in the U.S, and an estimated 60 million worldwide. Allmusic refers to Pearl Jam as “the most popular American rock & roll band of the ’90s.