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 Post subject: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:07 pm 
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The purpose of these threads is to take the time and go back and listen to the Pearl Jam albums you remember but haven't sat down with in a long time. What did you think? Is it what you remembered? Give the album a spin and talk about it.


Part I: Ten
Part II: Vs.
Part III: Vitalogy
Part IV: No Code
Part V: Yield
Part VI: Binaural
Part VII: Riot Act
Part VIII: S/T

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:14 pm 
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i still listen to backspacer all the time but I'm always happy to do so again

Gonna see my friend is the most exuberant song in their catalog. They just sound thrilled to be alive. It's infectious.

I like that little rev up sound that starts in at about 15 seconds.

I think eddie's 'we are all victims of desire' lyric is maybe his worst bit of punctuation in the entire catalog

I love this main riff.

Matt is really playing his heart on this one.

It's not for everyone, but I love how Eddie sounds on songs like this. Like someone's who has been through hell and come out the otherside with his soul intact and ready to celebrate that fact.

I like the bridge.

The intro and outro give this song such great punctuation.


Got Some

The music for this one is really really good, but Eddie can't quite keep up. he's rarely at his best singing really fast he doesn't kill the song or anything, but he does hold it back a little bit. I like songs like this that seem full of empty spaces even though people are playing the whole time. It makes the guitar parts that punctuate the silence sound almost like they're intruding. It's such a furtive sound for a fast and aggressive song

Good background vocals. Eddie needs them.

These lyrics are pretty weak. it's a good thing the song moves fast enough it's hard to tell.

I do kinda wish the outro went on longer. I can see wanting to end the song on the carry on/lets go, but they could have held off on that part.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:22 pm 
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Ahhh, The Fixer


The main riff has this great fuzzy warmth to it, and I like the whip crack cadence to the vocals (and the handclaps add to it). The tone on the guitar matches the feel of Eddie's vocals really well.

The musical fills are really interesting. You pick up on a lot with this one with headphones.

I don't care for the uh huh huhs that start the song and that come out of the bridge. They feel like they were added almost after the fact, and they're a step down from the energy that carries the rest of the song.

I like these lyrics. They're good for what this song is, a simple (but not simplistic) celebration of life and starting over. With one or two exceptions they have a nice flow to them and make good use of the 'if x then y' structure. Eddie's not taking them too seriously, and doesn't want us to either. Even the 'put a bit of fixin' on it' lyric. If this was wishlist they would be troubling, but wishlist takes itself seriously in a way this one doesn't. Wishlist creates a mood. Fixer is all the immediacy of the moment.

I like the bridge in this one a lot, especially the chiming Edge sounding intro and the transition into the final chorus.

This song does need another verse, though.



I think Johnny Guitar has one of Eddie's most impressive vocal melodies to date, and I love that they can actually write a song like this without it sounding belabored. Once upon a time they could not have pulled this off, especially all the elements of self-parody in here. I like the guitar sound that seems to rebound off the end of each line.

Great bridge

I like how Eddie oversings this one--that he gives such an inconsequential story so much gravity. I'm not sure the song would work if he didn't.

man the character in this song is such a loser.

This fade out probably didn't need to happen. They could have let mike go for a while and it would have fit in really well.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:29 pm 
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The beginning of Just Breathe is really really pretty, and Eddie sounds so delicate here, and confidently vulnerable.

They do a good job filling in the song slowly--especially the way jeff comes in at the start of the second verse.

They transition in and out of the chorus well, but I still think it's a little too over the top for me. I guess it helps that Eddie doesn't oversing it, but the music makes it sound like he does.

Actually i guess he does at the start of the chorus--he just dials it back towards the end.

I hope REM covers this someday. I feel like Backspacer is their REM/U2 influenced record.


I love the verses in amongst the waves. Eddie is nicely restrained,and they have no other song that sounds like it musically. The shimmery electric sound at the start gives the whole thing a flashback feel to it.

It's too bad it devolves into about as generic a chorus as they've ever done. This chorus belongs with the more lackluster parts of Riot Act.

Slightly more urgency in the verse the second time around.

I really like the 'survived and you're amongst the fittest' lyrics, but the lyrics are pretty strong here throughout.


The solo in the bridge sounds good, but I'm not sure why it's in this song. It sounds too minor key, even if it isn't, and Eddie doesn't really commit to flying above it so it feels instead like it's holding him back.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:36 pm 
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I really like the slow build in this one. It's too bad eddie is singing like he has gauze in his mouth when the only thing to listen to is him. Plus, while this song has some really good lyrics, none of them are during that first section.


I like how the piano accelerates the song. From that point on it really feels like we're getting to someplace important.


The 'gems and rhinestones' lyric is really nice and well delivered. Same thing with the 'see the path cut by the moon for you to walk on' which may be a better lyric, but he doesn't scream it so we don't notice it as much.


I think the biggest problem this song has is the 'nothing there/nothing left' bridge doesn't really go anywhere, vocally or musically. The song ends up plateauing for too long. Mike's little aborted solo isn't enough.

I also really like the 'see the waves on distant shores awaiting your arrival' and the 'dream the dreams of other men you'll be no one's rival' That's a cool sentiment phrased in an a striking way.

Because the song plateau's instead of climaxing the come down at the end doesn't really feel like it's coming down from anywhere.


This one doesn't have nearly the problems that amongst the waves does, but both of these songs have some stellar moments and it's too bad they didn't construct better songs around them.


Ugh. Supersonic. Hands down the low point of the record. But I really don't like this kind of pop punk stuff. There's too much sheen here. I do like the 'cut the crease/put the shit on the hole' part.

Good bridge. Doesn't fit here. Wrong kind of attitude.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:41 pm 
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I liked but didn't love the Speed of Sound demo. I like but don't love the version on the record. Part of me enjoys the cacophony of it, but seems like a song that doesn't quite know what it wants to be. I think eddie sounds pretty good here though, and there's a scrappiness to this version that is appealing.


This and Force of Nature are his best 1-2 lyrical combo in a long while.

This song kinda reminds me of Off He Goes. I like this one more.

Good ending. I like how Eddie restrains his vocals here, but there's an unhinged undertone that is almost breaking out



Backspacer's middle section is its weak spot. the first 5 songs are excellent, as are the last two. Amongst the Waves, Unthought Known, and Speed of Sound are all frustrating cuz they could have been great songs with more work, and end up being average. Supersonic was never gonna appeal to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:48 pm 
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I love Force of Nature. My favorite song on the album. Even the over simplistic start has a cool swagger to it. Eddie gives the song a really compelling weary bite to it (Riot Act had the weariness, not the bite). Excellent lyrics. I love the chiming notes (u2 again) going into the chorus. There's some cool stuff happening underneath the main riff, especially in the second verse. This song comes alive with headphones.

Somewhere there's a siren singing a song only he hears is probably in my top 5 eddie lyrics. Maybe top 3.

This song does almost everything right. The music follows the lyrics perfectly. This is a really atmospheric song that doesn't draw attention to its atmosphere. Marvelously understated.

With a handful of exceptions their midtempo songs have been their weak link since Binaural. But this song (and I Am Mine) get it exactly right.

I love the 'patterns' Mike is playing in the outro. it's perfect.

Such a good song.



BoB did a better job capturing Ed's voice on The End than any other song on Backspacer, I think. he sounds so lost and simultaneously frantic and stationary. Good lyrics. Not great, but the performance is so heartfelt that it doesn't matter.

They do a really nice job having the string accent the song instead of overpowering it.

I like the quick moment of gravel in his voice when he sings 'slide' in the slide up next to me part.

that gasp at the end was a nice touch


Thank god this song wasn't recorded on a ukulele.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:50 pm 
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This song has been the longest in the 'still in heavy rotation' for me since Vitalogy I think. The first 5 songs are great, and while the next 4 all have issues, three of them have great parts. it does keep the record out of the top tier, but it redeems itself with the last two songs. It helps that the record is so quick. Even the weaker songs don't hang around long, and that this is such a short album makes it easy to digest. They have nothing like it in their catalog, and it's nice having a pearl jam record that feels smart and has things to say without turning them into an ordeal.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:13 am 
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I really agree with most of what Stip has to say about this. "Waves" and "Unthought" were the two that took the longest to grow on me--but considering how much time I spend listening to new PJ albums when they come out, "longest" refers to probably about a week. I think both are improved live.

I don't dislike any of these songs but I don't know that I'd consider any truly upper-tier songs either--I think that's part of what I like about the album. It reminds me of Dylan's "New Morning"--a minor work that doesn't necessarily achieve anything colossal on its own terms but adds color to the body of work as a whole, as minor works are supposed to. I imagine this will probably be thought of a lot differently by fans ten years down the line, after a few more records have come out and hindsight has had a chance to work its magic.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:33 am 
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Starting with The End, the first 4 or 5 times for some reason this song did hit me, i thought it was beautiful, and i loved it right off, but i didnt get any feeling from it, i tend to think of Ed as just an instrument most of the time before i really listen to his lyrics, but once i really listened to the words in this one, i really connected with it, and it gives me chills and lots of emotions every time i listen to it now.

Force of Nature is my Favorite song on this album, and depending on the day, i could call it my favorite from the last 3 maybe 4 albums.

i dont think ive given Speed of Sound much of a chance, i dont really like it a lot, but listening to it this time with headphones was real nice. From the first listen of this one i have always heard some of Inside Job in this one, im not sure if its just me.

Supersonic isnt terrible by any means, but i dont love it, and like hearing Inside Job in Speed of Sound, this one is more obvious with the Mankind resemblance, and i dont like that much in this one. i remember reading someone( probably Stip) saying that this is what Mankind would have sounded like if Ed had sang it... i like Mankind better.

Unthought Known is one that i didnt love right away like a lot of people seemed to, it is a song that builds, but it always felt like it was rushed to me, that may be the point of it, im not sure. Hearing this one live a few times has really helped this one for me, i like it much more now.

Amongst the Waves seems like it would have been great if they could have done just a little bit better with the chorus, i cant decide if it feels to slow, or just not enough musically happening, but somehting isnt quite right with that part, i love the rest of it.

Just Breathe is pretty much perfect

Johnny Guitar is my 2nd favorite on the album, its fun as hell, and i am very sad i didnt get it at one of the 3 shows i went to last year because it feels like one that could get put away for a while, i hope im wrong.

The Fixer is great, i dont know where all the hate comes from, i love it when they play it on the radio, i love it when ive got the CD in the car, i love it with headphones, and i love it live. another fun song, like stip, the only thing i dont like is the uh huh huhs part.

Got Some was my first favorite song on the album, but it has lost a little for me, this one might have been hurt by hearing it live for me, the times ive heard it it seems kinda sloppy, and Ed kinda struggles on it.

Gonna See My Friend is the best of the first 3 for me, and might be my favorite album opener since Brain of J.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:43 am 
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They always struggle on the best songs.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:46 am 
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cutuphalfdead wrote:
They always struggle on the best songs.


"Tremor Christ" and "Breath" come immediately to mind.

God, I wish they'd practice those.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:16 am 
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Kevin Davis wrote:
cutuphalfdead wrote:
They always struggle on the best songs.


"Tremor Christ" and "Breath" come immediately to mind.

God, I wish they'd practice those.

Couldn't agree with you more.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:31 pm 
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I must really be missing something with Force Of Nature. The music sound like a reject from the Rocky 4 soundtrack and the lyrics sound like something Eddie Money or the dude from Survivor would come up with. I don't think it works at all. I guess it could click down the line maybe.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:47 pm 
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badabing wrote:
I must really be missing something with Force Of Nature. The music sound like a reject from the Rocky 4 soundtrack and the lyrics sound like something Eddie Money or the dude from Survivor would come up with. I don't think it works at all. I guess it could click down the line maybe.

ha yeah i get the same vibe. its like 80s movie montage music.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:14 pm 
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GSMF: i like that guitar sound. pretty fun little song that reminds me of STP, and i like STP.

Got Some: a more effective pop song than the next one, but still pop, and thus wears extremely thin. pretty bored with it at this point. if they gave it the old hard rock treatment, i'd probably still like it.

The Fixer: i'll attempt to stow my hate filled ranting for PJ's epic career lowpoint... Nothing about Eddie would lead you to believe he could write a song like this, and this attempt proves it. simple songs need some bite, some wit, hell, just some funny lyrics. something to hold the interest of anyone over the age of 3. none of these are Ed's strong point, and his voice is all wrong as well. his preachiness and earnestness are still here, unfortunately, just watered down from fire and brimstone to Sunday School. i guess its cool if you need more kumbaya's in the world. dont get me started with the music, the handclaps, the yeah yeah yeah yeahs...would have liked for Matt to make this one a Wellwater Song. Wellwater Conspiracy is great.

Johnny Guitar: for one of the fluffiest songs on the album, its suprisingly the one with the most meat on it. I dont think Matt and PJ have ever connected this well. To me it feels like it could be a fresh new direction for the band, compared to all the other failed experiments and rehashes on this album. Ed sounds suprisingly perfect here. is that witty lyrics i detect? impossible. Maybe Ed can write these types of songs after all.

Just Breathe: kinda burned myself out on this one for awhile, but its still pretty good after a break. could probably do without the strings, but the "uh-huhs" never bugged me like they do with many. i think its a fantastic folk country song.
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Last edited by bmacsmith on Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:34 pm 
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Amongst the Waves: nope, still garbage. its as if the band died and their reanimated corpses were forced to play some 10clubber's version of GTF. cheesy, generic, bland.

Unthought Known: another one i've grown to loathe. the intro reminds me of the intro to a bad sitcom like Perfect Strangers. Seeing Balky run down the stairs as Ed wails "fill the air up with love" or some shit. i can;t get that image out of my head!!! i guess its good for what it wants to do, but the 80s sheen smeared on everything on this album just makes everything sound cheesy and false. if they want to do happy stuff, they should rip off Bill Withers instead of Laverne and Shirley.

Supersonic: at this point the band has decided to stop making new music. this is an album of thinly veiled covers. they've gone from wearing their influences on their sleeve, to lazily copying. kinda hard to screw up the Ramones though. can't say i hate it.

Speed of Sound: a bizarre, car wreck of a song. an over the top, theatrical production that Meatloaf would probably consider too cheesy. I just heard the song and have no idea what the lyrics are, as i'm too horrified by the music. at least they dared to do something really different.

Force of Nature: see the above youtube clip for what i think of this song. sounds like it was put together on a cheap keyboard. just an incredibly "cheap" sounding song, which is a shame because the lyrics are actually pretty great.

The End: nice. not my favorite Ed thing by any means, but its nice. dont need the strings here, either.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:43 pm 
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closing thoughts:
1. welp, its short.
2. i like four songs on the album. i just hate everything else.
3. the 80s TV and movie soundtrack has officially been mined to death after this one, Pearl Jam. its safe to move on now.
4. Happy doesn't have to be corny. it can be, just not this often.

5. take away everything good about Pearl Jam, all their strong points, the emotion, the intensity, the rawness, the gravity, and you get Backspacer. and a pretty crappy band. We officially know PJ's limits now. this is good. now we can move on.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:53 pm 
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bmac's summary pretty much says it all for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's actually listen to the albums: Backspacer edition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:03 pm 
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true story: i listened to this album two days ago and enjoyed most of it.

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