PEARL JAM - In Stores Tuesday, May 2nd
PEARL JAM (2006) is a message to be certain. It's actually packaged as a little hardback book. The pages contain lyrics to the songs amidst some dark and disturbing artwork. And, there at the back is a sleeve with a compact disc. Here is what that CD contains:
1. Life Wasted (Vedder/Gossard)
2. World Wide Suicide (Vedder)
3. Comatose (Vedder/McCready/Gossard)
4. Severed Hand (Vedder)
5. Marker In The Sand (Vedder/McCready)
6. Parachutes (Vedder/Gossard)
7. Unemployable (Vedder/Cameron/McCready)
8. Big Wave (Vedder/Ament)
9. Gone (Vedder)
10. Wasted Reprise (see "Life Wasted")
11. Army Reserve (Vedder/D. Echols/Ament)
12. Come Back (Vedder/McCready)
13. Inside Job (McCready/Vedder)
"Life Wasted" is a rockin' opener, a call to arms, so to speak. "I have faced it/A life wasted/I'm never going back again". Great song. This is followed by the 1st single, "World Wide Suicide". It's certainly an anti-war song: "It's a shame to awaken/In a world of pain/What does it mean/When a war has taken over". Heavy, driving electric guitars and screaming vocals. "Medals on a wooden mantle/Next to a handsome face/That the President took for granted/Writing checks that others pay".
"Comatose" is yet another heavy rocker. "Severed Hand" has a slow, almost spacey intro that builds to a solid, pseudo-funk gutar riff with slow and deliberate vocal delivery. "Tried to walk/Found a severed hand/Recognized it/By the wedding band".
"Marker In The Sand" is funky, in an edgy, rockin' way. "Those undecided/Needn't have faith to be free/And those misguided/There was a plan for them to be/Now you got both sides/Claiming killing in God's name/But God is nowhere/To be found, conveniently".
"Parachutes" is the first acoustic song, and slower in pace. Vedder makes use of his favorite metaphor, the breaking of waves. "World Wide Suicide" contains the line, "And the wave won't break". Here, we have "A wave will break on me today". Haahnster can clearly hear the song from Yield that says "We're all just breaking like waves" (It's "Push Me, Pull Me", I believe). The guy's a surfer, whattaya want?!
"Unemployable" returns to the heavy, electric guitar. It's the story of an unfortunate soul who loses his job. How will he support his wife and kid? "So this life is sacrifice/To a stranger's bottom line"...wait, there are real, human faces attached to those unemployment statistics?!
"Big Wave" is a fast, heavy rocker involving riding big waves (one presumes they are breaking at some point). I suppose this song is a sequel of sorts to "Do The Evolution" (from Yield): "I used to be crustacean/In an underwater nation/And I surf in celebration/Of a billion adaptations".
"Gone" starts off slow and mellow. "This American dream/I am disbelieving". The heavier sound kicks in to punctuate certain passages, then fades back out. It's one of those just-need-a-change-of-scenery-to-get-past-current-hopelessness type of songs. "If nothing is everything/I'll have it all"...Eddie sure can be cheery!
"Wasted Reprise" consists of select lines from "Wasted Life" sung over a churchy-sounding organ. I think it serves to refocus, as it leads into "Army Reserve". There, funky guitar returns, as we get a soldier's, as well as his family's, perspective on war. "She tells herself/And everyone else/Father is risking/His life for our freedoms" and "I'm not blind/I can see it coming/Looks like lightning/in my child's eye", among other passages.
"Come Back" is a slow, sad song that deals with the personal loss associated with those left behind. "Please say that if you hadn't gone now/I wouldn't have lost you another way/From wherever you are...Come back". This song ends with guitar soloing behind Vedder's seriously soulful wailing. It's powerful stuff.
"Inside Job" closes the album. "I will not lose my faith." "Life comes from within your heart." We each need to do what we can.
Bottom line: Buy it and play it LOUD!