Nirvana or Pearl Jam?
As the grunge movement gained momentum in the late 80s, little did the world outside of Seattle know what would be hitting them square in the nads in the coming years. It would be an unabashed embrace of American rock and roll-loud, raucous, and completely balls to the wall. Of the countless bands that rose to prominence under the grunge flag that quickly found a home atop many a flagpole during this time period, two always seemed to be the centre of attention for the ‘sides’ that seemed to form out of nowhere:
Nirvana and Peral Jam.
Even though both of these groups found massive success in the early 90s, and both came out of the clubs of Seattle, during their initial foray into the big leagues it was hard to find a true fan of both bands. It always seemed you loved one, hated the other. Thought Kurt Cobain was King Slacker who wrote awesome songs even though you could never quite tell what the hell he was singing? Then Eddie Vedder was a whiny surfer from San Diego with a mother complex. Vedder was your introspective lyrical hero? Then Cobain was a one hit wonder who no doubt would fade into oblivion sooner rather than later.
Of course, we all know how the stories of both Nirvana and Pearl Jam have unfolded over the years. And even though one of the biggest knocks against Pearl Jam was that they were ‘corporate’ rock since their label, Epic, was a subsidiary of Sony BMG, they’ve done a pretty good job of playing the game by their own rules, thank you very much. Refusing to release singles, not filming videos, avoiding awards shows, brawling with Ticketmaster-all the things a record label loves. While I haven’t always been onboard the Pearl Jam train (they lost me for a bit in the late 90s), I do give them credit for what appears to be a career that, once it comes to a close, they’ll be able to look back on and not feel like they made a living short changing anyone. Which, I suspect, might be a little more difficult down the road for many of today’s current batch of pop stars.
From their debut album 10, here’s Alive.
There's a lot that can be written about The Beat (or English Beat as they're legally known in North America due to the name 'The Beat' already being claimed by another band), from their role in the late 70s ska movement in England to their overall legacy in the world of pop music-a legacy not just focused on The Beat but the bands it helped spawn after the group broke up, including General Public and Fine Young Cannibals.
All of that is going to have to wait for another day, since today we take a look at just a microcosm of The Beat's career, the absolute gem of a song Save It for Later from their 1982 album Special Beat Service.
At the time of its original release, Save It for Later never went very far in the charts on either side of the ocean, but since then it has taken on almost mythical status amongst singer/songwriter types. Weird tuning, a great arrangement, and lyrics that may or may not make it the dirtiest non-dirty song ever written have all helped make Save It for Later an 80s classic.
The first cover I ever heard of the track was from a concert I've mentioned a lot here at MoonVsTheWorld, Pete Townshend's Deep End Live, back in the mid-80s. Townshend had stripped the tune down to just acoustic guitar, upright bass and sax, and it was an amazing version of the song (in fact, here's a great article on the Townshend cover by Pat Pemberton on spinner.ca). Since then a variety of artists have tried their hand at the song, with the best known versions by Eddie Vedder (on his own and with Pearl Jam) and Harvey Danger.
I've decided to go back to the source for today's cover of Save It for Later, with a 2006 radio appearance by Beat songwriter Dave Wakeling. I'm also including an additional clip from the same interview that features Wakeling explaining the tuning of the song and the confusion it caused Townshend and his buddy David Gilmour when he was working out his version.
Save It for Later, The Beat
Save It for Later, Dave Wakeling
Wakeling Explains the Tuning, Guitarists Rejoice
Looks like grunge scene survivors Pearl Jam are going to bite the bullet and spend 2011 at least admitting that they have made music in the past, with a yearlong celebration of the 20th anniversary of their debut album, 10.
The band has announced that they will release box sets of several of their earlier albums throughout 2011, plus be the subject of a Cameron Crowe directed documentary scheduled to hit theatres sometime this summer.
It's all a bit odd for a band that has never been known to get too comfy with past success, instead choosing to focus on the 'now' and keep new material coming. Since the band has often refused to release official singles, film videos, or play the usual hits at live shows, the unusual altering of their game plan comes as a bit of a surprise to hardcore Jam fans. I don't think they'll be complaining, although I'm sure some will start screaming "Sell outs!!!" when they find out the idea for the 20th anniversary celebrations came from the band's manager, Kelly Curtis. By most accounts, it appears as though the band themselves could really care less.
Let's have a looksy at one of the many classic tunes from 10 that helped launch the band. Here's Even Flow at what looks like a pre-gig soundcheck, so no audience. The energy is still there, though. Crazy kids and their wickedly awesome hat collection.