All Or None

In honor of the recent, rarity-filled set played at Chicago’s Vic Theater (aka the ‘Brew ‘n’ View’), we look at “All Or None”, which opened the show.  Stone’s Riot Act closer is one of the band’s more intricately (and interestingly) arranged songs, full of nuance and texture that makes it one of the album’s true highlights.  Vedder’s performance, alternating between both ends of his range, serves the mood perfectly, his famous tone finding its match in the elegant yet rustic accompaniment. I’ve always thought that Gossard’s writing here had to be inspired by Aimee Mann.  “All Or None” is lounge pop, but not in the space age manner of Esquivel, chintzy Vegas acts, or the Rat Pack.  It’s a dirty, seedy, sad little lounge where Tom Waits would sing “Ol’ 55” to the sodden and bleary-eyed.

“All Or None” has a whiff of sophistication, but the downward-spiral melody makes the whole thing feel like it’s constantly degrading, like a fine suit half-eaten by moths.  Stone’s guitar sounds like it’s been tuned down (though transcriptions have the instrument capo’d high, and in an alternate tuning), the barest hint of a rattle in the opening descending chords.  Watery organ, hand percussion, and perfectly understated piano parts fill out the rest of the song, along with a wailing McCready solo that comes close to literally wailing. The chord progression is definitely Mannish (ha!), autumn-toned and lovely.  The lyrics are simple and forthright, which works well in balance with all of the instrumentation behind it, which is worth paying attention to every detail.  It’s not a song that works too well in large halls or stadiums, but it’s absolutely dead-on for venues like the Vic, or even smaller, the little nooks and corner bars that still cling to the non-yuppified streets of Chicago.

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~ by Michael on August 4, 2007.

8 Responses to “All Or None”

  1. C13, this little review is a masterpiece. It’s as lovely and world-weary as the song.

  2. ‘All or None’ is my favorite song from “Riot Act”. It also contains my favorite McCready solo during the outro. Admittedly, I’ve always hoped PJ would eventually stear clear of guitar solos in their new music, but to me this is the bees knees of guitar solos. It rips out my soul and speaks to it. I can’t recall a solo ever making me feel this way. (I’ll always love the hard rocking solos we get Live)

  3. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if that constitutes a guitar “Solo” or not, but it’s still the bees knees regardless.

  4. “world-weary”…that’s funny. I’ll go with “well-written”…you could easily go to “over-looked”…”praise-worthy”, perhaps…but “world-weary”? It’s definitely a highlight of Riot Act…and the review helped explain why it isn’t played live more often, but calling this or any music review a “masterpiece” is really…funny. Just my world-weary opinion, not necessarily shared by others. I would love to hear more All or None live performances. I didn’t know about that Vic set…that’s just exactly what the doctor ordered, more small shows with more small songs…

  5. ole, I wasn’t trying to be funny, but I guess I’m just gifted that way.

  6. It’s her way of saying she liked the review, big deal, and yes a review can be a “masterpiece” when compared to other reviews. Obviously, Susan believes this particular review couldn’t of been written any better, and I’ve felt the same way with some of C13’s write-ups myself. Quite frankly, I think he is the best at what he does.

  7. ole, are you my little brother?

  8. My fave song on Riot Act and in my top ten all time PJ tunes. Wish it was played live more often as I have over 40 live boots since 2002 and it is only on one, a masterful version on Mansfield the acoustic first disc. Your review mostly nailed it, yep, lovely read.

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