Nothing as it seems

Pearl Jam Nothing As It Seems(Epic)

Pearl Jam

Nothing As It Seems [I](Epic)[/I]

Eddie Vedder is a funny old cove. When he and [a]Pearl Jam[/a] first rose to improbable stardom on [a]Nirvana[/a]’s coat-tails back in the early-’90s, he behaved as if this was the worst stroke of ill-fortune that had ever befallen him, making Dolores Cranberry seem almost grateful for success by comparison. He deliberately stood far away at the back during grudgingly agreed-to photo sessions. He growled in interviews about all the ‘bullshit’ he had to endure now that he was a rock star, as if riches and fame were part of a cynical record company conspiracy to rob him of his authenticity. He warned people, [I]Life Of Brian[/I]-style, that he wasn’t the ‘messiah’, even prior to anyone actually hailing him as such – but just in case, y’know? He picked fights with the music biz, and hid for years inside his overcoat until, happily for Eddie, everyone forgot who the fuck [a]Pearl Jam[/a] were in the first place.

Listening again to his gravelly, broodily opaque vocals here, it’s hard to remember why anyone

ever gave Eddie Vedder house room. This is the sort of ‘grunge’ sound that tractors get stuck in

after three days of rain. ‘Nothing As It Seems’ is, however, thoroughly redeemed by a good old-fashioned, studio-treated, Hendrix-style guitar solo, visceral and distressed, high and mighty.

David Stubbs