Meet The Press: Pearl Jam is Bad ’70s Country Rock

by John Reynolds on December 22, 2010

December marks the 20th Anniversary of a few important “firsts” in Pearl Jam’s career. As Jessica Letkemann noted in 1990: The Making of Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder was packing up his life in San Diego in November and early December 1990 and trucking it up to Seattle. Although they didn’t realize how blinding the promising light of 1991 would shine, a few events in the waning days of December gave the band a taste of days to come.

December 16, 1990 – Pearl Jam’s First Radio Appearance

KISW

The band appears on the KISW show “New Music Hour”, then hosted by DJ Damon Stewart. Ed is introduced by the band, story of meeting him via Jack Irons is told. They give away tickets to the upcoming 12/22/90 Alice In Chains show at the Moore, providing tickets to those phoning in with band names. After the interview, a demo of “Once” is played, presumably from the band’s early rehearsals or the Momma Son tape.

December 21, 1990 – Pearl Jam’s First Press Mention

The first mentions of the band – then still Mookie Blaylock – in major publications were from a pair of passing mentions on Friday, December 21, 1990, both as part of previews of the upcoming Alice in Chains show at the Moore on December 22, 1990.

Amidst other local previews of that weekend’s happenings, writer Gene Stout threw in some relevant background information, and is the sole source for the identification of Pearl Jam’s second show ever, December 19, 1990 show at The Vogue.

LOCAL ATTORNEY/CHANTEUSE HEADS FOR THE R&B BIG TIME
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 21, 1990
Author: Gene Stout, P-I Pop Critic

Two of the remaining members of Seattle rock band Mother Love Bone have formed a new group with San Diego rock vocalist Eddie Vedder.

Vedder, who was introduced to Mother Love Bone guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament by a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, made his debut with the two musicians Wednesday night at the Vogue (note: 2nd show, actually).

Vedder, Gossard and Ament are calling themselves Mookie Blaylock (after the New Jersey Nets point guard) until a permanent name is found.

Gossard and Ament’s plans have been in disarray since Mother Love Bone’s lead singer and songwriter Andy Wood died last March of complications resulting from heroin overdose.  Wood’s death came just weeks before the band was to release its debut album, “Apple,” on Polygram Records. Mother Love Bone was widely regarded as one of Seattle’s most promising young bands.

Vedder, Gossard and Ament are special guests at Alice in Chains’ sold-out homecoming concert tomorrow night at 8 at the Moore Theater. The concert celebrates Alice in Chains’ new Capitol Records album, “Facelift,” a brilliant but lyrically bleak record that has received plaudits from such prominent music magazines as Spin.

Proceeds from the show will benefit the Make a Wish Foundation; each concertgoer is encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy.

The other article from that day was written by long-time Seattle music journalist Patrick MacDonald. Later in the band’s career, MacDonald had a reputation among fans as being “anti-Pearl Jam”, though in hindsight, his reviews are thoughtful, honest and fair criticisms.

ALICE IN CHAINS CAPS A BIG YEAR WITH MOORE SHOW

THE SEATTLE TIMES – December 21, 1990
Author: PATRICK MACDONALD

Alice in Chains tops a big year with its show tomorrow night at the Moore Theater. It was just a year ago that the Seattle band signed a contract with Columbia Records, which resulted in the EP “We Die Young” and the LP “Facelift,” one of the best Northwest albums of 1990. The show comes at the end of a tour with one of the living legends of rock, Iggy Pop. The group also shared an unlikely double bill with heavy-metal monsters Extreme in a tour earlier this year. The band’s music is not quit e in keeping with the Christmas season – it tends to be dark and aggressive – except if you want to get rid of a lot of pent-up emotions. The music is tight and straightforward, with no guitar solos or vocal excursions, but ragged around the edges. The opening band is just as interesting. Mookie Blaylock has risen from the ashes of Mother Love Bone, the promising group that broke up after the death of lead singer Andrew Wood earlier this year. The show offers the first look at the future of the talented guys from Mother Love Bone.

December 24, 1990 – Pearl Jam’s First Performance Review

The Alice in Chains show on December 22, 1990 was a big deal. As one of the brighter starts in the scene, Alice In Chains was under contract with Columbia and had just returned from a fall tour opening for Iggy Pop. This concert was a sold-out homecoming show at The Moore, and video footage from their performance made it on to the release Live Facelift.  It is not known if Mookie Blaylock’s performance was filmed.

Writer Phil West has the distinction of being the band’s first reviewer. After covering Alice In Chains’ headlining set in deserved detail, he has some interesting things to say about Mookie Blaylock.

ALICE IN CHAINS FORGOES THE EXCESS

THE SEATTLE TIMES-December 24, 1990
Author: PHIL WEST

Ironically enough, Alice in Chains gave a better representation of the Seattle Sound than those that should have: opening band Mookie Blaylock. It features Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, who were in another seminal grunge band, Green River. Gossard and Ament were also members of Mother Love Bone, the Seattle band recently thought most likely to succeed before the heroin overdose death of singer Andy Wood earlier this year. However, the music leaned more towards bad ‘70s country rock (Bad Company comes to mind) than the punk-metal angst of Green River or the flamboyant grooves of Mother Love Bone. Not even a cameo appearance by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron made Blaylock interesting.

Like Sand Through The Hourglass…

Pearl Jam turns 20

Pearl Jam turns 20

As more of these 20-year anniversaries pass, we encourage you to contact us if you were lucky enough to be at, know someone who was at, or have press clippings of these events, and can contribute or correct the descriptions of these events.

Did you see Mookie Blaylock at the Vogue or the Moore? Do you have a copy of the Dec. 16, 1990 KISW appearance? If so, please contact us.

In addition to Jessica Letkemann’s amazing research, we’d like to thank fan Kelly Giles for additional research that helped paint the picture for these early winter events.

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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