Rock and roll will always need new blood to get things done. Not every legendary band can keep the fire burning forever, and the only way the genre can thrive is if it can reinvent itself with new bands in the lead. So when someone kills it the first time, everyone in the music seems to get up and notice.
On their first step on the plate, each of these bands seemed to knock it out of the park, coming up with a new sound or aesthetic that made rock and roll sound new and exciting again. Even if it wasn’t reflected in numbers every time, you can see the seeds of these albums in the next few years as the rest of the music industry figured out what the album was doing and revamped their approach. . go forward.
Sometimes the change doesn’t even have to do with the music on the inside either, from the promotion of the record to the kind of attitude the band had on and off stage playing some sort of role in what rock and roll was meant to be. Rock had already found teeth, but these albums gave us the rules for what the next few years were going to be like.
The minute grunge hit the airwaves, you knew all the hair metal that had polluted MTV for the past few years was going to be a thing of the past. Acts like Warrant were starting to sound way too contrived at this point, and bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden were going to take a bold new direction with much muddier riffs than before. While the rest of Seattle got a little more guttural, Pearl Jam also hadn’t forgotten the music that raised them.
For most of Ten you get the feeling of the grunge era in the production, but the real appeal is the kind of 70s throwback sounds present here as well. Almost built like a Led Zeppelin record at times, Stone Gossard’s riffs are already set to fill massive stadiums, from the opening sounds of Alive to the groovy as hell journey that comes on Even Flow. Arena rock is just one aspect of that, and you can hear each member putting a different spin on their sound, like the punk side of Eddie Vedder coming out on Why Go and Mike McCready tapping into tracks of blues à la Stevie Ray Vaughan.
There was a healthy respect for the past here, but their roots were still in Seattle, and a song like Once or Garden could be studied as prime examples of what grunge was in the first place. It was loud, angry, and a bit scary if you weren’t prepared for it, but you also couldn’t deny the heart that helped make it happen.