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A Blast From the Past

Posted: April 29, 2005

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Editor-in-Chief

Almost two and a half years ago now, I reviewed Pearl Jam's most recent studio album, Riot Act. To put this sepia-toned, faraway time in perspective for you: We had not yet invaded Iraq; Howard Dean had not yet emitted the rebel yell that would sink his presidential hopes more than a year later; Chicago, Gangs of New York and The Two Towers were the hotly anticipated movies of the day. No one had yet heard of Clay Aiken or Franz Ferdinand, and no one gave a crap about Paris Hilton. I had not yet met the wonderful woman I'm scheduled to marry later this summer. The world, in short, was an entirely different place than it is today.

I mention this because, believe it or not, that review is still getting mail. Seriously. Previously in this space, I shared some of the initial feedback I received over the period of a couple of months after the review was posted. One of the fervent Pearl Jam fans I quoted was a fellow named "Jawn," who chose "Pearljamslion" as his e-mail handle.

Well, I'm here to tell you that the passage of time hasn't cooled Jawn's ire one bit. On Tuesday, April 26 -- again, almost two and a half years after the original review was posted -- I received a follow-up missive from the Lion himself. Let's just jump right into it:

All grammar aside here, right?

I saw your response to me on the 'Riot Act' review album about how you
addressed Sir Lion on the matter - to be blunt & get right to it...

Your review was stupid in every context...

Especially how you started off with writing about how Pearl Jam "misname"
their albums - No, they dont

Ten = mookie baylocks number.. how is that naming the album wrong?
Vs = It was Pearl Jam against the media, how is that misnaming the album?
they felt like they were in a fight
Vitalogy = a book based on life, such as much of the concept was with
'Vitalogy', revolving around death with songs such as 'Immortality'
No Code = Its called 'No Code' because it really doesnt belong to any
genre.. the experimentation is off the charts on that album.. every song
sounds like a different genre almost & with different styles... such as 'Who
You Are' to Lukin'... they didnt misname the album at all, it makes perfect
sense to call it 'No Code'
Yield = This is when Pearl Jam finally DID slow down against their public
attention & relax
Binaural = Made to listen to with both ears.. it was recorded to be listened
to with both ears
Riot Act = It is a slightly concept revolution album against a lot of stuff
going on with politics


- So you see, right from the beginning you started the review off with a
moronic statement.. its like you were trying to figure out how PJ misnamed
their albums, when they didnt - it was so idiotic..

Your review was lame. Period.


I think a letter as reasoned as that deserves an equally thoughtful, measured response, don't you? But I'm going to craft an intelligent reply anyway. Here goes …

Dude:

Where do I start? Maybe we should begin by revisiting the introduction you're so obsessed with.

"Pearl Jam has a funny habit of misnaming its albums. The band's 1991 debut, the smash hit Ten, contained 11 tracks (yes, we know all about the Mookie Blaylock connection, but go with us on this one); …"

I don't see how it can be any clearer: Right off the bat, I acknowledge the fact that my whole theme about misnaming albums is a conceit. It's a device. I even go out of my way to ask you to just go along with it for a minute. It's like the belabored twist in an M. Night Shyamalan movie: You either go with it or you don't. (I even address your Mookie Blaylock connection: I know that 10 was the jersey number for the famous basketball player, and that the band originally named itself after him before deciding on "Pearl Jam.")

Now, I could go on and on about how you say the review was "stupid in every context" but only zero in on one context, or how you adopt a condescending tone ("So you see,") like you were talking to a child, even as you write like one. (And no, all grammar not aside -- you want to be taken seriously, you have to follow the rules of punctuation, spelling and beginning sentences with a capital letter. Sorry, that's just the way it is.)

But frankly, who has the time? If you didn't like the review, that's fine. But for the love of all that's holy, man, LET IT GO. It was two and a half years ago already. At the very least, if you're going to rekindle a debate from so long ago, you need to bring something heftier to the table than a belabored, point-by-point dissection of how Pearl Jam's album titles accurately reflect the albums themselves -- dude, I spent like one paragraph on this device; it's not even the main thrust of the review.

Let's be honest here: Your main problem with the review is that it doesn't agree with your opinion. If I started with the same intro but went on to praise Riot Act, we wouldn't be having this discussion. You're a Pearl Jam fan; fine, bully for you. I hope they bring you many more years of pleasure, I really do. But instead of arguing the album on its merits, you zero in on a couple of nits and pick the hell out of them, and you won't sway any minds to your cause that way.

You want to defend Pearl Jam's musical integrity? Great. Be my guest. But do it, already. Don't be fooled just because this is an Internet site. Shaking Through isn't your average podunk blog maintained by some obese, pimply-faced 50-year-old virgin who still lives with his mother, posting his thoughts on the latest CDs after pulling a double-shift at Pizza Hut and pleasuring himself to some anime porn.

I'm a professional writer, and Laurence Station, regardless of whether you agree with his opinions, knows an awful lot about music. If you disagree with us, fine. But address the real subject matter, not the garnish. Don't focus on one little nitpicky point, ignore the meat of the review, and expect us to bow our heads in defeat. It just doesn't work that way here. Period.

Thank you for contributing clicks to our pageview count, and keep on rockin' in the free world.

Sincerely,

Kevin

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Archived Editorials
December 03, 2006: Happy Feet
November 22, 2006: Half Decade Anniversary
October 07, 2006: Jessica Simpson
September 30, 2006: New Orleans and SNL
June 2, 2006: Dixie Chicks
May 7, 2006: Are Yahu Serious?
February 16, 2006: Bill O'Reilly & Brokeback Mountain
February 12, 2006: Totally '80s (Grammys)
January 31, 2006: Freyed Oprah
November 27, 2005: To Be Continued... (Bringing back movie serials)
November 21, 2005: Fourth Birthday
November 05, 2005: TV Remakes
August 13, 2005: Ten Commandments of Rock
July 05, 2005: Live 8
May 05, 2005: Term Limits (for Rock Stars)
April 29, 2005: Pearl Jam Redux
January 26, 2005: Oscar Grouching
October 31, 2004: Three More Years!
September 27, 2004: Cleaning Out My Closet
August 25, 2004: Shaking Through Mailbag
June 23, 2004: Summer Reading List
June 11, 2004: World Without Heroes (Bill Murray and Garfield)
April 23, 2004: Sold Out (Bob Dylan, Victoria's Secret, & Iraq)
April 08, 2004: The Day the Music Died (Kurt Cobain)
Mar. 17, 2004: Copping Out
Feb. 27, 2004: The Passion of Howard Stern
Jan. 30, 2004: Sex and the City
Nov. 17, 2003: California Über Alles
Nov. 7, 2003: Not-So-Terrible Twos
Sept. 19, 2003: Magic & Loss (Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon)
Aug. 17, 2003: Those '70s Shows
May 27, 2003: Patriot Games (Darryl Worley)
May 24, 2003: American Idol
Mar. 23, 2003: Non-cents-ical (Dixie Chicks-50 Cent)
Feb. 8, 2003: Where's the Love? (Pearl Jam)
Jan. 1, 2003: High Resolutions
Dec. 16, 2002: All I Want for Christmas
Nov. 27, 2002: Things to be Thankful For
Nov. 8, 2002: Near Wild Heaven (Nirvana)
Oct. 21, 2002: Happy Birthday to Us
Sept. 11, 2002: The Little Things
Aug. 20, 2002: King for a Day
July 9, 2002: Bill of Rights
Apr. 18, 2002: Celebrity Skim
Apr. 15, 2002: We Will Never Lie To You
Jan. 6, 2002: Something to Believe In
Nov. 3, 2001: Who We Are