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Pearl Jam - Ten

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Rating: * * * * *

Pearl Jam's Ten and Nirvana's Nevermind were the two biggest and best albums - with Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger rating a mention too - to come out of the heady days of the early 90s when you were still allowed to stage dive and showering was optional.

It's possibly unfair to compare them, because they are very different beasts.

However, it seems only apt, since both albums were released in 1991 (with Pearl Jam's debut coming out a month earlier than Nevermind) and each played a crucial role in the rise of grunge and alternative music crossing over into the mainstream.

One thing is certain, both still stand up 18 years on. The main difference is that though Ten has the passion of Nevermind it doesn't quite have the chest-beating power and vitality of Nirvana's grunge classic.

Yet songs like Even Flow, Jeremy, and Garden (the most beautiful song of the era), sound so beautifully familiar. And this time round take time to rediscover more unassuming songs like Black, with Eddie Vedder at his serenading best, the sonic Doors-meets-metal of Deep, and spooky hidden last track Master/Slave.

And for those who like to shower a little more these days the new Ten comes with an extra disc featuring a freshened up recording of the album by producer Brendan O'Brien (AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen).

This new cleansed and toned cut sounds better and more direct than the original, but it's the musty, old, real-deal version you get more of a hankering for.

Scott Kara



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