Remixing and Reissuing Reconsidered: Pearl Jam Ten

I’m usually not one for re-released remastered remixed re-issues, despite the allure of alliteration, but the Pearl Jam Ten re-issue is an exception. The original producer, Brendan O’Brien, remixed and remastered the tracks and the result is remarkable (correction: Rick Parashar was the original producer of Ten. Thanks to those who pointed this out.). It sounds like it was recorded yesterday, instead of on the muddy banks of 1990s grunge.

To be clear, these are not remixes as in “m4tr1x RaVe Ed1ti0n”, they are remixed in the true sense of the world. O’Brien mixed down the album as he would if he were to record the album today, with all of the skill, taste, and equipment developed since the original release.

The remixes confirm what I’ve always thought about Pearl Jam. The label of “grunge” described a new variation of modern (at the time) rock music. Nirvana was grunge, Soundgarden was grunge. Pearl Jam was always just plain old Rock ’n Roll®.


10 thoughts on “Remixing and Reissuing Reconsidered: Pearl Jam Ten

  1. My only disagreement is that Soundgarden doesn’t sound anything like Nirvana. That’s just plain old hard rock.

    The only Grunge band, if you’re going to define it in terms of the music (instead of apparel which is what it seems like we’ve been doing for the last 20 years) is Nirvana. Nobody else sounded like them, nobody else wrote songs like them. (Though I’m most fond of their cover songs, to be perfectly honest.)

    As for the reissue: I listened to the iTunes previews and I can hear more of the acoustic guitar and the drums don’t sound as muddy. What else am I missing?

  2. Agreed. The remixes sound far, far better. The main difference to my ear is Brendan dropped the crappy reverb on the original which it sound like it was recorded in a tin can.

    I wish the same could be done for Nirvana’s Nevermind — its production hasn’t aged gracefully.

    My favorite remix/remaster so far is Fun House by The Stooges. It was shockingly better.

  3. No one write songs like Nirvana? Ever listen to Local H? I’m a big Local H fan so I don’t mean to say they’re Nirvana-derivative, but Local H can turn out a loud grunge song just as good as Cobain and Co. used to. Difference is Local H is more heavily inspired by hard rock, so what are they? Grunge Rock? Hard Grunge? Is Soundgarden grunge or hard rock? And what the heck is post-grunge?

    If Nirvana is the blue-print for grunge then the only other band who’s really done grunge decently well is Michael Pitt’s Pagoda, whose album almost seems silly these days. (Is Pagoda neo-grunge?)

    After taking a history of rock music class, it’s a little clearer: it’s all just rock these days. It was all rock’n’roll, but the the times, they a-changed, and now it’s just rock.

  4. Nirvana as the ONLY grunge band? I think not. While I accept the premise that Pearl Jam were in fact a great plai nold RnR band, and Soundgarden to me were the perfect amalgam of Led Zep and Black Sabbath, and thus also not really “grunge”, I’d point to Mudhoney, Tad, Melvins among a few others as inbibing that sonically f**ked up aesthetic, punk influenced, pop melodies that grunge seemed to be about..

  5. You just sold me. I’ll be picking this up.

    I’ve been a Pearl Jam fan since the Ten days and have seen them play live many times, but I’ve grown pretty apathetic about their recent books, compilations, singles etc. Seems like this one might be a good purchase, though. Thanks!

  6. Rick Parashar was the producer of “Ten,” not Brendan O’Brien. Parashar also produced Blind Melon’s debut.

    O’Brien remixed “Ten” for the reissue, and it’s called “Ten Redux” (Disc 2 of the set). Disc 1 is still the original mix, done by Tim Palmer, but remastered for the new reissue.

    For the record, I prefer the O’Brien remix myself. More punchy and powerful. Stripped of most of the reverb in the original mix, it now sounds kinda timeless and less dated.

  7. @Brian – You’re totally right, my bad. Forgetting mudhoney made me disappointed in myself just now.

    @coskunlar – it is surprising how much better Bleach sounds than Nevermind sometimes. Also, man, you listen to “you know you’re right” lately? That is probably the most poorly mixed bastard children of grunge I have ever heard.

  8. Yeh I agree remixes can usually just be called “give me even more money reissue” but this one was cool. You are on the money!

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