Pearl Jam - Absolutely Nothing's Changed.

Fucking out of control. I'm like one of those women you see on fucking Dr. Phil, "My Wife Is A Spend-A-Holic." Somehow, I've managed to mismanage my finances in such a way as to overestimate how much money I ACTUALLY had in my checking account. And now I have none. Zip. A-badea-a-badea-a that's all folks. I'm fucking lucky I get paid every Friday. I've got a $325 rent check floating around out there just WAITING to bite me in the ass.

So, I've been listening to a lot of Pearl Jam recently, and I've decided, if there was ever a chance for comparison to the Rolling Stones for non-stop ass-kickery over a long period of time, Pearl Jam would be in the running. Obviously, we'd have to scale down the model here, because the Stones have been going for forty years now; PJ's got something around 15. Let's look at the facts. The Stones enjoyed a great run in the 60s, sucked it up for about five years in the 70s, never made much of an impact in the 80s, had a slight revival in the 90s, and still, to this day, draws huge press whenever they announce another Summer Tour. That's very broad and general, I know, but look at 'er like this: All the hits came out in the 60s; their greatest album came out in '72; they didn't have another great album until '78; then they came out with Voodoo Lounge in the 90s, not a personal favorite, but it made some hay.

Now, go ahead and look at Pearl Jam. For all intents and purposes, we're looking at Seven Studio Albums. Right off the bat, "Ten" is one of the greatest albums in Rock N' Roll (and I'm thinking about that last outlandish statement and now I have to really ponder this. OK, definitely best album from anyone in Seattle; All right, best album in the so-called "Alternative" catagory). OK, so like I said, not THE best, but one of. It holds up. I'd put it in my top ten, and that top ten's pretty fucking badass. The thing with a lot of the older bands I love from the 60s and 70s, bands like Cream and Creedence and The Doors, they made fucking-excellent Greatest Hits albums, but their actual studio work left a lot of filler (mistakes the White Stripes could learn from). So, when I talk Greatest Albums, I'm talking "Electric Ladyland" by Hendrix, "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd, "I" by Led Zeppelin, and then, of course, there's "The Real Thing" by Faith No More, "Use Your Illusion I & II" by Guns N' Roses, "Master of Puppets" by Metallica (because I am, at heart, a Metalhead).

Anyway, so like I was saying, Pearl Jam's first album cannot be topped. Then, you've got Vs. and Vitalogy, two more albums HUGE on great songs. Then, things start to settle down. Albums, instead of coming out every year or every other year, are taking two years. Of course, this means increased touring, increased time in the studio, whatnot, things that can only help your band grow. Fuck, the Stones never put albums out with much rapidity after the 60s. I look at No Code in 1996 as a keystone album. What you've got here is ten really fucking great songs in the same light as the last three albums. Funny thing is, they happen to be the first ten songs of the 13 song album. I ain't crazy about the last three, and that's telling, because this marks the end of the vibrant, insanely-great run of albums.

Two years later, we get Yield, and a return of sorts to the public eye. From this point on, any mainstream success Pearl Jam sees comes at the hands of softer-rockers like "Wishlist" and "Last Kiss." Seriously, when my MOM's getting into these songs, you know there's something wrong. While Yield is good, it's gonna be the blueprint for the next few albums. It has hits, it has high points, but it tends to follow a formula. You've got the one or two radio-ready songs, you've got the one or two really hard-rockin' punkish songs, you've got the one or two slower, strummier, acoustic-ier songs, you've got the one or two heartier, balladier songs, and some filler.

Don't get me wrong, the later albums are still good, but they don't match the intensity of the first three albums and ten songs. Pearl Jam can still produce some mindfuckingly great songs and translate them into awesome live performances. Which is pretty much my major reason for enjoying Pearl Jam so much. Their live performances have supplanted any desire for them to recapture their early success in the stuido. Now, I just dig looking through their vast collection of live albums, sifting through and finding the shows that produce performances of my favorite songs and covers.

Plus, they strike me as one of the least disfunctional bands. Out of all the great Seattle bands, it isn't surprising this is the one that stuck around. If anyone's going to challenge the Stones for longevity, this'll be it. And, I know what you're thinking, "What about U2?" Well, what ABOUT them? Yeah, they're pretty big; yeah, they're more known for their touring lately; yeah, the public eats up every new morsel they create; yeah, they've put out their share of crap along with the greatness. Still, it's hard to see U2 as a ROCK band. The Stones, they rock. Pearl Jam rocks. U2 . . . they're more about theatrics and bellowing singing and television monitors and saving Africa from itself. Yeah, Pearl Jam has causes, but you don't see them buddying up with the president.

In short, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can't fucking wait for the Pearl Jam concert on September 2nd in Vancouver, B.C. And the subsequent new studio album shortly after. And eating some more of my pizza sandwich right now and watching some Newsradio.

The End (Yeah yeah, thanks College, no one really cares)