Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


21 September 2011


All yesterday I was buzzing at the prospect of watching the international premiere of PJ20, a 2hr movie/documentary celebrating the 20 year anniversary of Seattle band Pearl Jam. Regular readers will know I have been a bg fan for many a year now, and the passion still is alive and kicking today.  I can credit my older brother for the introduction after he VHS taped a late night television airing of their MTV Unplugged session way back when. I was 13 at the time and was instantly captivated by the sound, attitude and presence of the band that was like nothing I had heard before. From then on it was one discovery after another, scouring deeper into my brother's collection of cassette tapes and CD's, consuming and digesting one after another. One gem that stood above them all was a recorded radio broadcast of their concert at Melbourne Park Tennis Centre from their first Australian tour in 1995.  Spanning over three cassettes, that little sonic utopia got me through many a school bus ride.  Over the years many albums have been purchased, I've stayed up all night in front of shops for concert tickets and still search the web for rare live bootlegs. Seeing their story on the big screen was going to be a real treat and it didn't disappoint.

The cool thing about Pearl Jam is they really are the only band from that era that are still intact, still making music and still enjoying what they are doing. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden to name a few, all imploded for whatever reason , yet through all the pressures of international fame Pearl Jam never broke.  They were able to say enough is enough and by 1996's album No Code, had shunned all media to keep their sanity intact. The film gave a great nod to the origins of the band, being born out of the ashes of Seattle band Mother Love Bone after their charismatic lead singer Andy Wood died of a heroin overdose. Regrouping, a demo cassette tape with a handful of new songs found it's way to a San Diego surfer named Ed and things took off from there.  From an out of control rise in fame where Eddie had to literally build a stone wall around his house (a stalker still plowed his car into it at 80km/h) to legally fighting the corporate monopoly of TicketMaster in trying to keep show prices low for their fans, there is quite a story to tell.  Great footage, awesome interviews and insight, the worst thing about the film was they only played it once.

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