The last couple of times Pearl Jam guitar star Stone Gossard started cooking in the studio with informal assortments of his Seattle pals, the final products — Temple of the Dog and the multiplatinum Pearl Jam debut it inspired, Ten — became some of the hottest-selling cakes of the MTV era. But Brad, a grunge-lite foursome Gossard tossed together during the odd fortnight off from his main gig, sounds as if he merely wanted to sharpen his riffing tools (and give some more locals a break) before plunging into Pearl Jam’s second effort.
Never a flashy six-stringer with an instantly identifiable sound, Gossard nevertheless shows off some fluid licks on Shame that get nice support from Jeremy Toback’s funky bass strutting and Regan Hagar’s crackerjack drumming. Less promising is vocalist Shawn Smith. Despite melodic gifts closer to Top 40 mavens Daryl Hall and Elton John than to Seattle-sound gods Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder, Smith has less to say than any of the above. If he can’t be trained to fake sincerity, he’d better start delivering decent jokes. That, combined with his mindlessly racist Moms Mabley bit preceding the idiotic ”Bad for the Soul,” helps turn this otherwise tasty album a little bit sour. B-