A few promotional posters for No Code included “All Night” and “Black, Red, Yellow” in additional to tracks that would ultimately end up on that record. But while the latter was issued as the b-side to “Hail, Hail”, “All Night” wouldn’t be heard for seven more years, as the opening song on the rarities compilation Lost Dogs. For shame! I can, and have, played Monday morning QB with lots of Pearl Jam tracks, but the slighting of “All Night” for the better part of a decade is something I probably cannot be consoled about.
I remember seeing that poster and wondering about the song, whose titled suggested the soulful Temple of the Dog track “All Night Thing”. I imagined Pearl Jam’s song would be a quieter track, perhaps even romantic (more on that later). But I never thought that although it was scrapped from No Code, presumably in the 11th hour, that it wouldn’t surface even once: not as a b-side, soundtrack cut, or even soundchecked. The usual arguments could probably be made that it just didn’t feel right with the rest of the album, but No Code was an unusually eclectic set. Perhaps it vied with “Sometimes” for album opener, and there just wasn’t a better place to sequence the song once it lost that battle. Whatever the reasons, at least “All Night” has finally emerged.
Recorded during a severely hot (and deadly) stretch of Chicago summer days, “All Night” is similarly dense, humid, blistering. Though not one of Vedder’s more striking lyrical compositions, it’s one of his earliest and most successful experiments with vocal layering. Harmonies shift subtly over static chords, while the band creates an enormous amount of tension in what could be an electrifying set opener should Pearl Jam ever decide to dust it off. In direct contrast to “Help Help”, which I just chronicled, “All Night” is all about momentum, a head full of steam. “Why be satisfied / We’ve got all night!” Indeed! How could the band have been satisfied sitting on this for so long?