|Photo via Eddie Vedder Appreciation Society|
I was cleaning out some old files the other day and stumbled across a hard copy of the essay I used for my college applications. I was very proud of it at the time, but it was just terrible. Still, if you squint at it the right way you can see the faint outlines of something that, with time and practice, might have some potential. Fortunately, no one gives a shit about me, so there isn’t much of an internet market for my high school work.
Eddie Vedder isn’t so lucky, and tonight we were ‘treated’ to some leaked songs from one of Eddie’s Indian Style (featuring Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave fame and the vocal stylings of one Edward Lewis Severson III). If you listen to these tracks with an eye towards history you can learn a few interesting things about Eddie’s roots, and the kind of singer he would become. But they certainly aren’t worth your time otherwise, and it is kind of surreal to listen to these songs and imagine that two of the people responsible would become part of two of the more influential bands in music history within the next five years.
The two tracks that surfaced, Smooth Talkin’ and Time, are basically wanna be Red Hot Chili Peppers songs that have read descriptions of white funk rock, have even heard a few songs, but have utterly failed to capture even the slightest sense of what makes it tick. The lyrics are a mix of party rock with early ham fisted attempts at the statement messaging that Eddie can be so good at, especially in Time. Anyone reading this knows how much time I usually spend dissecting lyrics, but I promise you we both have better things to do this evening. As songs, these are just terrible, and it’s hard to imagine that the person who brought you Time had already allegedly written Betterman, one of the finest pop songs of its era. Even Bad Radio had moments in some of their better songs that pointed the way to something bright. Not here.
Having said that, these songs do showcase Eddie’s early Motown influences, and he’s actually pretty decent at that style (which creeps into parts of Ten in subtle and interesting ways). It’s just that the base songs are so weak that Stevie Wonder and the Jackson Five couldn’t make this worth your while.
It’s a shame the songs aren’t better, because I do love how Eddie sounded back then. It’s immature, and his voice is missing the gravity he would find on Ten, but that sports car shine of those early Ten rehearsals is still there. The sound quality is what you’d expect from 30 years of mix tape transfers.
The songs are…not good. But the embarrassing shit we did in high school helped get us where we are today. I hope Eddie has a sense of humor about these songs. He should, just like a supermodel should be able to laugh at a terrible prom photo. And here’s hoping we get a Shadow leak sometime soon.