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Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Yield" at Ten

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the release of what I think is the finest Pearl Jam album to date - Yield. To me, it represents a culmination of the whole "grunge" phase of the band - from the out-of-the-gate commercial successes of Ten / Vs. / Vitalogy to the shedding of fair-weather fans (who moved on to the next MTV trend of the '90s) with No Code. Yield marks the beginning of the an era of sum-of-its-parts synergy from the band. Instead of being merely Stone's album (with Ed's lyrics) or Ed's album with some collaborations, each band member contributed to album with their own songs, in their personal style:

"Brain of J.," "Faithfull," and "Given to Fly" are Mike McCready's wailing rockers. Stone Gossard's penchant for groove and rhythms butting against each other are evident in "No Way," "Do the Evolution," "In Hiding," and "All Those Yesterdays." Jeff Ament contributes yet another melancholy song in "Low Light," and the emotional residue thereof is also glimpsed in the rocker "Pilate" and the spoken-word groover "Push Me, Pull Me." Of course, Eddie Vedder lent a hand in several of the aforementioned tracks, as well as penning some minimalist rock 'n roll with "Wishlist" and "M.F.C."

Not to be left out, then-drummer Jack Irons wrote a transitional track - the one labeled with a red dot - and in future albums, current drummer Matt Cameron has had several songwriting contributions.

Pearl Jam has since left their previous record label Epic (Sony BMG) in favor of a quasi-a-la-carte distribution deal with J Records (another Sony BMG label) and other media outlets (like Rhino/WEA), so consumers will probably be spared from some sort of special anniversary repackaging of the album with a bunch of bonus material or whatever record companies do these days to siphon money from people. It's something neither the band nor its fan base probably will tolerate, in any case. However, if you want to celebrate the album Yield with auxiliary material, the band released such material throughout the calendar year 1998:

1. In August of '98, the band released a making-of-Yield documentary film called Single Video Theory.
2. In November of '98, the band released a Yield Tour compilation called Live on Two Legs, which features the band in another transition, with former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron keeping the beat.

So here's to my favorite album by one of my favorite bands. If you follow the syllogism, then Yield would have to be on my list of favorite albums.

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