As turbulent as the current climate is, all the extra time we’re spending indoors offers an opportunity to practice reflective listening. We’ve revisited some of the best pieces of music history, albums that shaped the landscape of what we listen to today. Here’s a round up of the top ten debut rock albums.
10. Ten // Pearl Jam, 1991
Pearl Jam seemed to be battling Nirvana as the champions of grunge, but Ten is an outpouring of the band’s own blend of grunge with an ageing style of rock, earning the tenth spot on this list. This Nirvana-Pearl Jam rivalry was motivated, mostly, due to both bands hailing from Seattle and their respective popularity – it’s the Beatles vs The Rolling Stones all over again. This rivalry with Nirvana leaves the temptation to simply view Ten as a grunge album that relied on incorporating aspects of a forgone rock aesthetic to earn recognition. Or, a tribute to the past – of Generation X fans of bands and musicians drifting out of popular culture. But it is much more than either of those reductive interpretations, a meaning commitment to the sound of the band. Eddie Vedder’s voice is remarkably adept at switching between a deep-ranging form into a high-reaching vibrato, the angry, explosive guitar of Mike McCready a fitting accompaniment.
Spearheaded by ‘Alive’, which so marvellously captures all the elements of the band, it’s a complex album that seems to change direction sporadically. It goes from the hard-hitting ‘Once’ to the almost tactile ‘Black’.
It took Ten a year to reach success, eventually climbing to the second sport on the Billboard charts in 1992, and has remained the band’s most successful album.