Ten is the debut studio album by the American rock band Pearl Jam, released on August 27, 1991 through Epic Records. Following the disbanding of bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard's previous group Mother Love Bone, the two recruited vocalist Eddie Vedder, guitarist Mike McCready, and drummer Dave Krusen to form Pearl Jam in 1990. Most of the songs began as instrumental jams, to which Vedder added lyrics about topics such as depression, homelessness, and abuse.

Ten was not an immediate success, but by late 1992 it had reached number two on the Billboard 200 chart. The album produced three hit singles: "Alive", "Even Flow", and "Jeremy". While Pearl Jam was accused of jumping on the grunge bandwagon at the time, Ten was instrumental in popularizing alternative rock in the mainstream.[1] In February 2013, the album crossed the 10 million mark in sales[2] and has been certified 13x platinum by RIAA. It remains Pearl Jam's most commercially successful album.[3]


Guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament had played together in the pioneering grunge band Green River. Following Green River's dissolution in 1987, Ament and Gossard played together in Mother Love Bone during the late 1980s. Mother Love Bone's career was cut short when vocalist Andrew Wood died of a drug overdose in 1990, shortly before the release of the group's debut album, Apple. Devastated, it took months before Gossard and Ament agreed to play together again. Gossard spent his time afterwards writing material that was harder-edged than what he had been doing previously.[4] After a few months, Gossard started practicing with fellow Seattle guitarist Mike McCready, whose band Shadow had broken up; McCready in turn encouraged Gossard to reconnect with Ament.[5] The three then went into the studio for separate sessions with Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and former Shadow drummer Chris Friel to record some instrumental demos.[6] Five of the songs recorded—"Dollar Short", "Agytian Crave", "Footsteps", "Richard's E", and "E Ballad"—were compiled onto a tape called Stone Gossard Demos '91 that was circulated in the hopes of finding a singer and drummer for the trio.[1]

San Diego musician Eddie Vedder acquired a copy of the demo in September 1990, when it was given to him by former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons. Vedder listened to the demo, went surfing, and wrote lyrics the next day for "Dollar Short", "Agytian Crave", and "Footsteps". "Dollar Short" and "Agytian Crave" were later retitled "Alive" and "Once", respectively. Gossard and Ament heard the demo with Vedder's vocals and lyrics, and were impressed enough to fly Vedder out to Seattle for an audition. Meanwhile, Vedder had written lyrics for "E Ballad", retitled "Black". Vedder arrived on October 13, 1990 and rehearsed with the band (now joined by drummer Dave Krusen) for a week, writing eleven songs in the process. Vedder was soon hired as the band's singer, and the group signed to Epic Records shortly thereafter.[1]


The band, then named Mookie Blaylock, entered London Bridge Studios in Seattle, Washington in March 1991 with producer Rick Parashar to record its debut album. After working with Rick on “Temple Of The Dog”, Stone and Jeff asked him to co-produce and engineer “Ten”. Rick also contributed piano, Fender Rhodes, percussion, co-wrote vocal harmonies and co wrote the intro/outro of the album. A few tracks were previously recorded at London Bridge in January, but only "Alive" was carried over from that session. The album sessions were quick and lasted only a month, mainly due to the band having already written most of the material for the record. "Porch", "Deep", "Why Go", and "Garden" were first recorded during the album sessions, everything else had been previously recorded during demo sessions at some point. McCready said that "Ten was mostly Stone and Jeff; me and Eddie were along for the ride at that time."[7] Ament stated, "We knew we were still a long way from being a real band at that point."[8]

The recording sessions for Ten were completed in May 1991. Krusen left the band once the sessions were completed, checking himself into rehabilitation.[6] According to Krusen, he was suffering from personal problems at the time.[6] Krusen said, "It was a great experience. I felt from the beginning of that band that it was something special," and added, "They had to let me go. I couldn't stop drinking, and it was causing problems. They gave me many chances, but I couldn't get it together."[9] In June, the band joined Tim Palmer in England for mixing. Palmer decided to mix the album at Ridge Farm Studios in Dorking, a converted farm that according to Palmer was "about as far away from an L.A. or New York studio as you can get."[1] Palmer made a few additions to the already-recorded songs, including having McCready finish up the guitar solo on "Alive" and tweaking the intro to "Black". Palmer overdubbed a pepper shaker and a fire extinguisher as percussion on "Oceans".[1]

In subsequent years, band members have expressed dissatisfaction with the way the album's mixing turned out. In 2001, Ament said, "I'd love to remix Ten. Ed, for sure, would agree with me...It wouldn't be like changing performances; just pull some of the reverb off it."[7] In 2002, Gossard said, "It was 'over-rocked', we were novices in the studio and spent too long recording, doing different takes, and killing the vibe and overdubbing tons of guitar. There's a lot of reverb on the record."[10] In 2006, Vedder said, "I can listen to the early records [except] the first's just the sound of the record. It was kind of mixed in a way that was kind of produced."[11]

Music and lyricsEdit

Several of the songs on Ten started as instrumental compositions that Vedder added lyrics to after he joined the band. Regarding the lyrics, Vedder said, "All I really believe in is this fucking moment, like right now. And that, actually, is what the whole album talks about."[12] Vedder's lyrics for Ten deal with subjects like depression, suicide, loneliness, and murder. The album also tackles social concerns such as homelessness ("Even Flow")[13] and the use of psychiatric hospitals ("Why Go").[14] The song "Jeremy" and its accompanying video were inspired by a true story in which a high school student shot himself in front of his classmates.[15][16]

Many listeners interpreted "Alive" as an inspirational anthem due to its decidedly uplifting instrumentals and chorus. Vedder has since revealed that the song tells the semi-autobiographical tale of a son discovering that his father is actually his stepfather (his real father having died long ago), while his mother's grief turns her to sexually embrace her son, who strongly resembles the biological father.[4] "Alive" and "Once" formed part of a song cycle in what Vedder later described as a "mini-opera" entitled Momma-Son[17] (the third song, "Footsteps", appeared as a B-side on the "Jeremy" single). Vedder explained that the lyrics told the story of a young man whose father dies ("Alive"), causing him to go on a killing spree ("Once") which leads to his capture and execution ("Footsteps"). It was later revealed that Vedder's lyrics were inspired by his long-held hurt in discovering at age 17 that the man he thought was his father was not, and that his real father had already died.[1]

While Ten deals with dark subject matter, it has almost been universally considered to be a high-water mark of the early 1990s alternative rock sound, with Vedder's unusually deep and strong (and later much-imitated) voice alternating between solidity and vibrato against the unrestrained, guitar-heavy, hard rock sound that drew influence from Led Zeppelin and other rock bands of the 1970s. Ten's musical style, influenced by classic rock, combined an "expansive harmonic vocabulary" with an anthemic sound.[18] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic stated that the songs on the album fused "the riff-heavy stadium rock of the 1970s with the grit and anger of '80s post-punk, without ever neglecting hooks and choruses."[19]

Ten features a two-part track entitled "Master/Slave" that both opens and closes the album. The first part begins the album, before "Once" starts, and the second part closes the album, after "Release". It begins about ten seconds after the album's closer "Release" as a hidden track, but both count as one track on the CD. The song is entirely instrumental (except for random unintelligible words Vedder utters throughout) with a dominant fretless bass line makes up the core of the song (which Ament referred to in a 1994 Bass Player magazine interview as "my tribute to (fretless bass instrumentalist) Mick Karn"),[20] along with some guitar and sounds that seem to come from the drums. Producer Rick Parashar stated in 2002, "As I recall, I think Jeff had, like, a bass line...I heard the bass line and then we kind of were collaborating on that in the control room, and then I just started programming on the keyboard all this stuff; he was jamming with it and it just kind of came about like that."[1]

Commercial performance Edit

Ten initially sold slowly upon its release, but by the second half of 1992 it became a breakthrough success, attaining an RIAA gold certification.[1] Almost a year after its release, the album finally broke into the top ten of the Billboard 200 album chart on May 30, 1992, reaching number eight. Ten would eventually peak at number two for four weeks. It was held off the top spot by the Billy Ray Cyrus album, Some Gave All.[21] Since then it has been in the Billboard charts for a total of 256 weeks,[22] being in the top 15 charting albums ever. By February 1993, American sales of Ten surpassed those of Nevermind, the breakthrough album by fellow grunge band Nirvana.[23] Ten continued to sell well two years after its release; in 1993 it was the eighth best-selling album in the United States, outselling Pearl Jam's second album, Vs.[24] As of February 2013, Ten has sold 10 million copies in the United States according to Nielsen SoundScan,[2] and has been certified 13x platinum by the RIAA.[25]

Ten produced three hit singles, "Alive", "Even Flow", and "Jeremy", all of which had accompanying music videos (The "Oceans" video was released only outside of the U.S.). The singles all placed on the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts. The song "Black" reached number three on the Mainstream Rock chart, despite never being released as a single. The video for "Alive" was nominated for the MTV Video Music Award for Best Alternative Video in 1992.[26] "Jeremy" became one of Pearl Jam's best-known songs, and received nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Hard Rock Performance at the 1993 Grammy awards.[27] The video for "Jeremy", directed by Mark Pellington, was put into heavy rotation by MTV and became a huge hit, receiving five nominations at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, of which it won four, including Video of the Year and Best Group Video.[28]


On March 24, 2009, Ten was reissued in four editions (Legacy, Deluxe, Vinyl, and Super Deluxe). It was the first reissue in a planned re-release of Pearl Jam's entire catalogue that led up to the band's 20th anniversary in 2011.[29] The extras on the four editions include a remastering and remix of the entire album by producer Brendan O'Brien, re-designed packaging, six bonus tracks ("Brother", "Just a Girl", "Breath", "State of Love and Trust", "2,000 Mile Blues", and "Evil Little Goat"), a DVD of the band's 1992 appearance on MTV Unplugged (including a bonus performance of "Oceans", which along with "Rockin' in the Free World" was originally excluded from the broadcast version), vinyl versions of the album, an LP of the band's September 20, 1992 concert at Magnuson Park in Seattle (also known as Drop in the Park), a replica of the original Momma-Son demo cassette, and a replica of Vedder's composition notebook containing personal notes and mementos.

Regarding his remix of the album, O'Brien stated, "The band loved the original mix of Ten, but were also interested in what it would sound like if I were to deconstruct and remix it...The original Ten sound is what millions of people bought, dug and loved, so I was initially hesitant to mess around with that. After years of persistent nudging from the band, I was able to wrap my head around the idea of offering it as a companion piece to the original—giving a fresh take on it, a more direct sound."[29]

The Ten reissue sold 60,000 copies in its first week, the second biggest selling week for the album since Christmas 1993.[30] Since Billboard considers the Ten reissue a catalog item, Ten did not appear on the Billboard 200, Top Modern Rock/Alternative, or Top Rock Albums, since those charts do not include catalog items.[30] Had it been included on the Billboard 200, the 60,000 copies sold of the Ten reissue would have placed it at number five.[31] The reissue also re-entered the Australian Albums Chart at number 11, giving it a new peak chart position in Australia and its highest chart placing since June 14, 1992.[32]

Tying in with the re-release of the album, in March 2009, the entire album was made available as downloadable content for the Rock Band series of video games.[33] In addition, three Ten-era bonus tracks were made available for the Rock Band video game for those who purchase the Ten re-release through Best Buy: "Brother", "Alive", and "State of Love and Trust", the latter two as live versions taken from the band's September 20, 1992 concert.[34]


The album's cover art features the members of the band at the time of recording in a group pose and standing in front of a wood cut-out of the name "Pearl Jam". The wood cut-out was constructed by Ament.[35] Ament said, "The original concept was about really being together as a group and entering into the world of music as a true band...a sort of all-for-one deal."[29] Ament is credited for the album's artwork and art direction,[36] Lance Mercer receives credit for photography, and both Lisa Sparagano and Risa Zaitschek are credited for design.[36] Ament stated, "There was a bit of headbutting going on with the Sony art department at that time. The version that everybody got to know as the Ten album cover was pink and it was originally intended to be more of a burgundy color and the picture of the band was supposed to be black and white."[37] Pearl Jam's original name was taken from the professional basketball player Mookie Blaylock.[19] It was changed after the band signed to Epic Records, as record executives were concerned about intellectual property and naming rights following Blaylock's inking of an endorsement deal with Nike. In commemoration of the band's original name, the band titled its first album Ten after Blaylock's jersey number.[38]


Ament stated that "essentially Ten was just an excuse to tour," adding, "We told the record company, 'We know we can be a great band, so let's just get the opportunity to get out and play.'"[8] Pearl Jam faced a relentless touring schedule for Ten.[39] Drummer Dave Abbruzzese joined the band for Pearl Jam's live shows supporting the album. Halfway through its own planned North American tour, Pearl Jam cancelled the remaining dates in order to take a slot opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the band's Blood Sugar Sex Magik tour in the fall of 1991 in North America. Former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons had called the Red Hot Chili Peppers and asked the band to allow his friend Vedder's new group to open for the band on its forthcoming tour. The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana also accompanied the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the tour. With the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing shows at arenas rather than theaters, the promoters of the tour decided that Pearl Jam should be replaced with a more successful act.[40] Nirvana was chosen to replace Pearl Jam on the tour, however, The Smashing Pumpkins left the concert bill and were replaced by Pearl Jam.[40] Epic executive Michael Goldstone observed that "the band did such an amazing job opening the Chili Peppers tour that it opened doors at radio."[7]

In 1992, the band embarked on its first ever European tour. On March 13, 1992, at the Munich, Germany show at Nachtwerk, Pearl Jam played Ten in its entirety in order mid-way through its set.[41] The band then came back and did another tour of North America. Goldstone noted that the band's audience expanded, saying that unlike before, "everyone came."[7] The band's manager, Kelly Curtis, stated, "Once people came and saw them live, this lightbulb would go on. Doing their first tour, you kind of knew it was happening and there was no stopping it. To play in the Midwest and be selling out these 500 seat clubs. Eddie could say he wanted to talk to Brett, the sound guy, and they'd carry him out there on their hands. You hadn't really seen that reaction from a crowd before..."[7] When Pearl Jam came back for a second go-around in Europe the band appeared at the Pinkpop Festival and the Roskilde Festival in June 1992. The band cancelled its remaining European dates in the summer of 1992 after the Roskilde Festival due to a confrontation with security at that event as well as exhaustion from touring.[42] Ament said, "We'd been on the road over 10 months. I think there just came a point about half way through that tour it was just starting to get pretty intense. I mean just being away from home, being on the road all the time and being lonely or being depressed or whatever."[43] The band would go on to play the 1992 Lollapalooza tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Ministry and Ice Cube, among others.

Track listingEdit

All lyrics written by Eddie Vedder; except on bonus track "I've Got a Feeling", by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
No. TitleMusic Length
1. "Once"  Stone Gossard 3:51
2. "Even Flow"  Gossard 4:53
3. "Alive"  Gossard 5:41
4. "Why Go"  Jeff Ament 3:20
5. "Black"  Gossard 5:43
6. "Jeremy"  Ament 5:18
7. "Oceans"  Gossard, Ament, Vedder 2:42
8. "Porch"  Vedder 3:30
9. "Garden"  Gossard, Ament 4:59
10. "Deep"  Gossard, Ament 4:18
11. "Release(*)"  Gossard, Ament, Dave Krusen, Mike McCready, Vedder 9:05
Total length:

  • "Release" contains the hidden track "Master/Slave" at 5:20.
European edition bonus tracks
No. TitleMusic Length
12. "Alive(*)" (live)Gossard 4:54
13. "Wash"  Ament, Gossard, Krusen, McCready, Vedder 3:33
14. "Dirty Frank"  Dave Abbruzzese, Ament, Gossard, McCready 5:38

  • Recorded live on August 3, 1991 at RKCNDY in Seattle, Washington.
Japanese bonus tracks
No. TitleMusic Length
12. "I've Got a Feeling"  John Lennon, Paul McCartney 3:42
13. "Master/Slave"  Ament 3:48

Reissue bonus tracks
No. TitleMusic Length
12. "Brother" (with vocals)Gossard 3:59
13. "Just a Girl" (Mookie Blaylock demo 1990)Gossard 5:01
14. "Breath and a Scream" (Mookie Blaylock demo 1990)Gossard 5:58
15. "State of Love and Trust" (Demo 1991)McCready, Ament 4:47
16. "2,000 Mile Blues"  Ament, McCready, Krusen 3:57
17. "Evil Little Goat"  Ament, Gossard, Krusen, McCready, Vedder 1:27

iTunes reissue bonus tracks
No. TitleMusic Length
18. "Why Go" (live at The Academy Theater)Ament 4:01
19. "Even Flow" (live at The Academy Theater)Gossard 5:10
20. "Alone" (live at The Academy Theater)Abbruzzese, Ament, Gossard, McCready, Vedder 3:26
21. "Garden" (live at The Academy Theater)Gossard, Ament 5:42

  • Live tracks recorded on December 31, 1992 at The Academy Theater in New York, New York.

Reissue bonus materialEdit

MTV Unplugged DVDEdit

  1. "Oceans"
  2. "State of Love and Trust"
  3. "Alive"
  4. "Black"
  5. "Jeremy"
  6. "Even Flow"
  7. "Porch"

Momma-Son cassetteEdit

All lyrics written by Vedder, all music composed by Gossard.
No. Title Length
1. "Alive"   4:35
2. "Once"   3:44
3. "Footsteps"   4:20

Drop in the Park LPEdit

Side one
All lyrics written by Vedder. 
No. TitleMusic Length
1. "Even Flow"  Gossard 5:14
2. "Once"  Gossard 3:32
3. "State of Love and Trust"  McCready, Ament 3:44
4. "Why Go"  Ament 3:20

Side two
All lyrics written by Vedder. 
No. TitleMusic Length
1. "Deep"  Gossard, Ament 4:22
2. "Jeremy"  Ament 5:03
3. "Black"  Gossard 5:28

Side three
All lyrics written by Vedder. 
No. TitleMusic Length
1. "Alive"  Gossard 5:50
2. "Garden"  Gossard, Ament 5:35

Side four
All songs written and composed by Vedder. 
No. Title Length
1. "Porch"   12:42


The album's singles featured two B-sides from the Ten recording sessions which weren't included on the album, "Wash" and "Yellow Ledbetter". The former was a B-side on the "Alive" single while the latter was featured on the "Jeremy" single and eventually became a radio hit in 1994. Both songs were included on the 2003 Lost Dogs collection of rarities, although the included version of "Wash" is an alternate take. The song "Alone" was also originally recorded for Ten; a 1992 re-recorded version of the song is on the "Go" single. Another version of "Alone", with re-recorded vocals, appears on Lost Dogs.[44] According to McCready, "Alone" was cut from Ten because the band already had enough mid-tempo songs for the album.[44] The song "Dirty Frank," which was released as a b-side on the "Even Flow" single and often thought to be a Ten outtake, was recorded after Ten was released. Thus, "Dirty Frank" is not from the Ten recording sessions.[45]

The song "Footsteps" began as an instrumental demo and was compiled onto the Stone Gossard Demos '91 tape. Vedder added vocals to this version after he received the demo tape. The music for "Footsteps" was also used for Temple of the Dog's "Times of Trouble".[44] "Footsteps" was featured as a B-side on the "Jeremy" single, however this version is taken from a 1992 appearance on the radio show Rockline.[46] This version of "Footsteps" is also featured on Lost Dogs, however a harmonica intro has been overdubbed on to the recording.

Other songs rejected from the album but later included on Lost Dogs are "Hold On" and "Brother", the latter of which was turned into an instrumental for Lost Dogs.[44] "Brother" was cut because Gossard was no longer interested in playing the song, a decision which Ament objected to and almost caused him to quit the band.[47] The version of "Brother" with vocals appears on the 2009 Ten reissue and became a radio hit that same year.[48] Both "Breath" and "State of Love and Trust" were recorded with the intention of the two songs possibly appearing in the film Singles.[49] The versions heard in the film and on its soundtrack were recorded a year later in 1992.[39] The versions from the Ten sessions appear on the 2009 Ten reissue. Other songs rejected from the album but included on the 2009 Ten reissue are "Just a Girl", "2,000 Mile Blues", and "Evil Little Goat".


Pearl Jam
Additional musicians and production
  • Dave Hillis - Engineer
  • Don Gilmore, Adrian Moore – additional engineering
  • Walter Gray – cello
  • Bob Ludwig – mastering
  • Lance Mercer – photos
  • Tim Palmer – fire extinguisher, pepper shaker, mixing
  • Rick Parashar – production, piano, organ, percussion
  • Pearl Jam – production
  • Steve Pitstick – additional art
  • Lisa Sparagano, Risa Zaitschek – design
  • Kelly Curtis – management

Charts Edit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1991) Position
Top Heatseekers[50] 2
Chart (1992) Position
US Billboard 200[50] 2
Canadian Albums Chart[51] 2
New Zealand Albums Chart[52] 3
Norwegian Albums Chart[53] 8
Australian Albums Chart[54] 14
Dutch Albums Chart[55] 14
Finnish Albums Chart[56] 14
German Albums Chart[57] 15
UK Albums Chart[58] 18
Austrian Albums Chart[59] 31
Chart (1994) Position
Swedish Albums Chart[60] 9
Chart (2009) Position
Top Internet Albums[61] 1
Portuguese Albums Chart[62] 2
Dutch Albums Chart[55] 10
Australian Albums Chart[32] 11
Belgian Albums Chart (Vl)[63] 20
Belgian Albums Chart (Wa)[63] 66
Italian Albums Chart[64] 20
Croatian Albums Chart[65] 24
Irish Albums Chart[66] 38
Swiss Albums Chart[67] 67
Chart (2014) Position
Polish Albums Chart[68] 1

Decade-end charts Edit

Chart (1990–1999) Position
US Billboard 200[69] 14


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