Pearl Jam Ten

Pearl Jam Ten
It's hard to believe that Pearl Jam have been around for almost 20 years. While listening to Ten the whole way through since my (now-distant) teens, I found that it triggered the same emotional responses that it always did. Maybe this is entirely Pavlovian: if you were an angst-ridden adolescent when grunge broke into the mainstream, I dare you to keep your heart rate steady during "Even Flow" or not get goose bumps during the eerie closing bars of "Jeremy," their hit song about a deeply disturbed kid who shoots himself in a classroom. Despite the emotional headlock it maintains, the album doesn't transcend the early '90s; it sounds dated, belonging to another time and place. That said, this debut remains the best of the band's career - nothing touches Ten. The sound quality on the Brendan O'Brien remix is completely mental but if you also grew up listening to the album on cassette tape, it isn't tough to be impressed. Six bonus tracks round out the reissue but they do more to detract from the main event than enhance. Thankfully, the original and untouched version of Ten is also included. (Epic/Legacy)