Fifteen Essential Pearl Jam Studio Songs
"Red Mosquito" No Code (1996)
In four minutes, few bands have the ability to span multiple genres, but Pearl Jam does it on "Red Mosquito." The band mixes in blues, rock and a little folk to create this beautiful hodgepodge of noise that just works all on its own. During the last few bars, the track all of a sudden becomes cohesive as Eddie repeats "if I had known then what I know now" as the song fades out. A highlight of No Code.
"Spin the Black Circle" Vitalogy (1994)
Everyone's favorite ode to vinyl, Pearl Jam offers up their love letter to record players everywhere with this psychotic and absurd track. Even Usain Bolt thinks "Spin the Black Circle" is fast. Again, this is Pearl Jam simply showing off, and it works. Everyone is where they need to be exactly when they need to be there, making this a benchmark track for Pearl Jam and bands who like to play fast. The GRAMMY Award didn't hurt either, I suppose.
"Of the Girl" Binaural (2000)
Binaural offered so many great studio tracks, and "Of the Girl" is certainly one of those. One of the aspects that set Pearl Jam aside from other groups in their genre is their ability to create that musical moment when transitioning from verse to chorus, verse to bridge, or bridge to chorus. "Of the Girl" has just that with the riff that occurs just before the chorus hits. It happens at about 1:56 in the studio track. Tension is created out of thin air in a song that seemingly has no tension. If you're looking for more examples of this, look no further than the connector in "Faithfull" right before the chorus as well.
"Garden" Ten (1991)
"Garden" is a perfect example of Pearl Jam flexing their muscle. Any band can play fast and call it "rock" but few can execute a song like "Garden" where the line between mellow and insane is completely blurred. Although the band has trouble performing this song live now due to the vocal demands, "Garden" will forever have its place on one of the greatest debut albums ever. Often overlooked by hits like "Black," "Alive" and "Why Go," the ninth track on Ten is one of PJ's finest.
"Low Light" Yield (1998)
Another Jeff Ament composition, the bassist not only wrote the music but also penned the lyrics. "Low Light" is a stellar acoustic number that features extensive layering with deep percussion work from then-drummer Jack Irons. Yield offers the best variety for Pearl Jam fans looking to escape the grunge sound, and "Low Light" is a great example of that. Without this track anchoring the back half of the record along with "In Hiding," the cohesiveness wouldn't be there overall.
"Blood" Vs. (1993)
"Spin me around, roll me over, fucking circus" is usually an appropriate way to start a song called "Blood." Mike McCready is mesmerizing on this track, and for all of the crash, bang, boom of "Blood," he provides a breath of fresh air with his work during the verses. This song is great because Vedder is simply demonic throughout. The whole band is, really. This song harkens back to the "cabin fever" theory discussed during "Go." If you like grunge, you like "Blood." It's loud, unapologetic and brash.
"Inside Job" Pearl Jam (2006)
The closing track to Pearl Jam's self-titled album (although often referred to as "Avocado") is simply haunting. "Holding on, the light of the night/On my knees to rise and fix my broken soul again" really says it all, but the song has a uniquely upbeat ending as Eddie chants "oh, life comes from within your heart and desire" repeatedly while Mike McCready solos. "Inside Job" has a strong fan following and is one of the bright spots in post-2000 Pearl Jam recording history.
Honorable Mention: "Lukin," "Come Back," "Sleight of Hand," "Off He Goes" and "Speed of Sound"