This was easily one of the most agonizing things I’ve ever done. I consulted with experts*, did hours of research, and asked my dog for advice. I covered a cork board in Polaroids, string, and index cards that was so extensive, it would make Carrie Mathison jealous. In the end, I believe I reached a conclusion I can live with.
Well, at least for now.
The task was to rank Pearl Jam’s studio albums. If I included the live albums, we could be here for weeks; Pearl Jam probably just released a couple more live albums in the time it took you to reach this point of the piece.
As for how the rankings were done and now this list was constructed, I let two key things make the decisions, my gut and my heart. Why? Because that’s where Pearl Jam resides for me, and where they’ve lived since I first heard them more than 20 years ago. I still remember listening to Ten over and over again in my folks’ basement, and the giddy anticipation my buddy and I had as his mom drove us to buy Vs. at the local record store. I’ve grown up with Pearl Jam, and I can’t say that about many bands. Actually, I’m not sure I can say that about any other bands.
Pearl Jam’s albums exist on a scale of Wow, This Album Is Great to Meh, This Album Is Okay. They don’t have any bad albums, which is impressive given the length of their career. But they do have a couple albums that are, you know, not totally great.
So, we’ll start with those.