Friday, July 11, 2008

FDF Vol 1 Issue 100 - Pearl Jam - No Code

Album - No Code
Artist - Pearl Jam
Key Players - Mike McCready -guitar, Jeff Ament - bass, Stone Gossard - guitar,vocals. Jack Irons - drums. Eddie Vedder - lead vocals, guitar
Produced By - Brendan O'Brien and Pearl Jam

Release Date - August 27, 1996

What caused me to blow off the dust? Probably the recent tour. I can't tell you the last time this record got played front to back....but hey that is the purpose of this blog after all.

Overview - Pearl Jam released this, their fourth album after a year long plus battle with ticketmaster. The band was focused on making a solid record, but tested themselves individually as well as collectively. The recording sessions took place in two locations, and bassist Jeff Ament was left out of the mix during the first few days of recording. The band had also brought in drummer Jack Irons who had played with them on the prior tour. The result was a record that left many fans unsatisfied. It would debut at number one on the billboard charts but its sales would steadily decline and this would become the first Pearl Jam record to no reach multi platinum status.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- A single guitar slowly and quietly brings up the lead off track "Sometimes". The band joins in as Vedder begins to whisper the vocals. Ament has a nice swooping bass line underneath it all as the the band is very laid back on the track. Quickly returning to their rock roots "Hail Hail" rushes at you. Still a live concert staple this track has good give and take on the guitars from Gossard and McCready. The guitars chime off one another via a slight delay as the song fades out. Fan favorite "Who You Are" follows. A simple click of a cow-bell like instrument begins the track. The drums slowly roll as a simple, yet articulated guitar line chimes out. The backing vocals stand out on this track as well as there is more harmonization going on. After the first verse the band comes in a little stronger with the drums and bass kicking in but it really doesn't get too crazy. There is a more tribal drum feel on the track as well. Acoustic guitars flush over some downbeats of fuzz but overall the track is very solid. Rolling drums and bass bring up "In My Tree". Vedder once again begins the track vocally laid back, almost just above a whisper. By the conclusion of the first verse the band fully joins in. The song will continually grow in heaviness and Vedder will even get hoarse at times. The guitars get more a workout at the outset on "Smile". Sounding an awful lot like a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tune, harmonica is played before the band claps off the verse. The harmonica returns at the end of each verse and the second verse sees Vedder pushing himself more. The largely acoustic "Off He Goes" follows. A pretty song that really shows off the baritone of Vedders voice. "Habit" brings back the heavier guitars after a few laid back tracks. Vedder has a heavy ragged voice and the guitars push him further. Irons and Ament keep the bottom tight and at a steady clip. "Red Mosquito" follows along the same lines. A sort of odd tempo begins the track, but the guitar has a heavy compression on it and with a cymbal crash the vocals start. The vocal line near the "if I had known then what I know now" sheds a lot of light where the band were at during this time. The barn burner track "Lukin" comes up. Ament has the bass pushed up in the front as Vedder is frantic on his vocals. The guitars and drums at the outset are here to compliment the two it seems. The song is a quick/in out track. "Present Tense" is a far cry from what the listener just heard. This track almost feels like the band sat on a front porch, beers on side tables and just had some fun. Jack Irons actually takes the lead vocals on "Mankind". Vedder is reduced to more of backing role but the band maintains the steady tempo. Purists may call foul but its sort of a welcome diversion. A drone guitar brings up the spoken word "I'm Open". There is not a lot to report on that. The album closes out with the mellow "Around the Bend". Once more, acoustic guitars lead the way with a laid back Vedder on vocals. Piano and acoustic guitar leads the way as Vedder leads the band down a dusty dirt road. Flashes of guitar, but not major solos. Sort of ends the record on a down swing.

Where are they now?
Pearl Jam are still active as a recording and touring outfit. The only change from this record is Jack Irons left the band and was replaced by Matt Cameron. Irons left the band in 1998 after being burnt out with touring.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- The
most recent time I saw them (June 30, 2008) was my ninth time seeing them. Although each was memorable here are just a few quick comments on the shows. The first was November 1, 1991 at Walter Brown Arena. Pearl Jam was the "who the hell are they" band on the bill with Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers that night. I was at the venue and watched them absolutely kill. Vedder crowd surfed from the stage, to the soundboard and back. Not bad considering they were an opening band. The second time was July 7, 1992 on the Lollapaloosa tour. By now, "Ten" had really blown open and in a stunning move, Pearl Jam played second that day rather than a more marquee later slot. Still, the venue was packed for them. April 12, 1994 at the small Orpheum Theater. I missed both the Boston Garden shows, but they added this as a surprise show. At the time it was a phone order only deal, 2 per person (this was before the internet mind you) so I hit re-dial for 2+hours. Finally I got through and the woman told me "all we have is balcony"..umm thats fine considering the theater holds about 2800. What made this set even more "legendary" is that the band allowed the crew to choose the set list. Sept 15, 1998 and August 29, 2000 were both at the larger (then) Tweeter Center, the next two September 28, 2004 and May 24, 2006 were both at the Fleet Center in Boston. The Sept 04 show was a "benefit" of sorts for the West Memphis Three. Pre "Plans" Death Cab for Cutie and a band called "Gob Roberts" opened. Gob Roberts front man was actor Tim Robbins and I remember Pearl Jam taking the stage just "way too late". The 06 show had My Morning Jacket opening, I did a review for that here

FDF Overall Take - I recall feeling sort of let down when this record came out. There was still a massive buzz around the band, but this set sort of fell flat, and fell off the radar quickly for me as well as many fans. Upon the re listen it has some great moments and moments that sort of remind me why I gave up on it back then. A few gems as noted, but there are stronger records overall that would be suggested to new or casual fan(s) first. I am to some it is their favorite record of theirs, and that is fine too.

Links -
Official site here
Pearl Jam on myspace

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

**all mp3's have been removed***

Hail Hail
Who You Are

Both tracks taken from "No Code" which you can buy here

Special downloads

Pearl Jam Acoustic
13th Annual Bridge School Benefit
October 31, 1999

mp3s have been removed.

Nothing as it Seems
Off He Goes
Last Kiss

One more..

Rockin in the Free World taken from somewhere in Europe.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just dug this one out a couple of months ago myself because I HAD to hear In My Tree again. Great album.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger fiftypercent said...

Nice blog. If you need an additional contributor, let me know.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

fifty..i may just take you up on it..i'll be be touch...

At 12:00 AM, Blogger JamieSmitten said...

I own it, but I've never listened to it. At least you didn't cost me money this week.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Ello said...

Whew! I don't feel so old! Great review. Great band! But I actually don't know this album. I'll have to take a listen on itunes.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

jamie..glad I saved you some $$ this week.

ello I am sure you know a few of the tracks of the album at least..


Post a Comment

<< Home