Eddie Vedder – Earthling: 13th Floor Album Review

Eddie Vedder playing the Bowie role for once, descends through the stratosphere as Earthling, and breathes life back into the Planet of Music, rouses us all to stop the sleepwalking – if you have ears to listen and something in between.

For Pearl Jam’s iconic lead voice, it is album number four as a solo artist, following the soundtrack to Flag Day from 2021.

Are we clear! Cleared for lift off. With a nod to Space Oddity, we’re off with opening Rock’n’Roll call to arms Invincible. Anthemic Power Pop with melodic flourishes which would bring a smile to 70s era fans of Elton John.

Smoke on the horizon/ And the clouds are looking violent/ Troubled times have come upon us. Vedder is going to be mining classic Pop and Rock of the late Sixties up to Eighties Grunge. From where his main job with P-Jam began.

Sir Queen Elton John contributes with Picture, which he co-wrote, plays a boogie piano and shares lead vocals to surprisingly powerful effect. In unison with Vedder especially so. Great energy from the old master.

Eddie Vedder plays the Earthling, and brings light to those that feel the need to hide. Powerful Pop and Rock’n’Roll. With a little help from his friends past and present.

And we go right back to when this writer was busy being born with Try. Stevie Wonder recreates Little Stevie Wonder and the exhilarating harmonica breaks of Fingertips Part 1 and 2. He tries to keep up as the Grunge guitars mesh and Power Pop rushes headlong into Punk. New York style. There are three count-ins of one-two-three-four as Vedder nods to his departed friend Johnny Ramone.

That Ramones trademark chainsaw guitar mesh electrifies Power of Right. The monolithic sound is brightened with Pop hooks. Vedder’s baritone is one of Rock’n’Rolls great and distinctive voices. If you combined Jim Morrison’s rich timbre along with Roger Daltrey’s melodic bellowing, you would be close to the belly of the beast.

Long Way and he sings in the galloping Power Pop style of Tom Petty. Benmont Tench plays some distinctive Hammond organ. Brought home by the inspirational vamp. Her love was but a haunting/ She left but never went away/ She took the long way/ On the freeway.

Brother The Cloud. Starts as a lament for a lost friend and a little Baroque Pop in the style of the Turtles. Which the singer lifts into emotional rawness to almost Sufi-style keening within a heartbeat. A rollercoaster of feeling. Put your arms ‘round my brother, my friend/ Say for me, for me/ Fuck you/ What are friends for?

He connects sonically with older brothers-in-spirit Husker Du’s monolithic guitar mesh on Fall Out Today.

Even better is The Dark which brings in an acoustic guitar to the organised maelstrom.

Good and Evil is a little possessed with bile and anger. Over a bed of Grunge guitars moving into Metal, the singer unloads what could be jealous rage of biblical proportions. Get some sleep/ I hope you dream your own death/ I wish you well/ I wish you hell. Reaching for Robert Johnson’s If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day in wrathful terror.

The antidote comes prior with The Haves. A Beatle style Pop melody circa 1965 and Rubber Soul. A masterful vocal performance on which you can hear in its genesis the echoes of Stevie Winwood of Spencer Davis Group days, and the teenage Alex Chilton when he sang with the Box Tops. Both teen prodigies.

Eddie VedderThen you may as well dive in from a great height and immerse yourself fully in the wonders of the Pop Art moment. Mrs Mills is the story of an unreachable seductress/singer who sounds like a Marilyn, leaving broken hearts among those who have dared. The music is Theatrical Pop drama of a Sgt Pepper, with a Ray Davies typically English gentlefolk storyline.

Mr Wonder, then Sir John/ Miss Madonna played by Paul/ Even Royalty, they have to leave by dawn/ As they play her, a sound like a prayer. No one takes Mrs Mills home. Tench plays keyboards. The piccolo from Penny Lane pipes up. Wry British humour.

Eddie Vedder plays the Earthling, and brings the light to those that feel the need to hide. Powerful Pop and Rock’n’Roll. With a little help from his friends passed away and present.

Rev Orange Peel