PEARL JAM – ” Vitalogy ” 25th Annivesary Release Date: November 22nd 1994

Posted: November 25, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Owning the distinction as one of the original driving forces behind the short-lived Seattle-birthed but highly influential grunge movement, Pearl Jam administered a brutal blow directly to the nut sack of the international rock establishment when they dropped their dazzling debut record back in 1991. Yet, despite moving in excess of 13 million units and delivering an impressive string of old school classic rock staples (“Alive,” “Even Flow” and “Jeremy”), it can be argued (by me) that 10 isn’t necessarily the crown jewel of the band’s celebrated ten-slab studio catalogue.

Released 25 years ago this week (November 22nd, 1994), via Epic Records, Pearl Jam’s third released set, Vitalogy, burned hotter than its two predecessors, topping the Billboard Top 200 album chart and turning five-times platinum. A collaborative production effort between the band and famed go-to guru Brendan O’Brien , “Vitalogy’s” lo-fi sheen crackled — a detail noticed immediately by those who first experienced the record on vinyl. Thanks to its stripped-down, lean production, Vitalogy stands as Pearl Jam’s most original and uncompromising album. Not that there was anything easy about the album’s recording process, which was carried out in fits and spurts over several months amid Pearl Jam’s grueling tour in support of the previous year’s multi-platinum Vs. album. Sessions were conducted in New Orleans, Atlanta – the base of producer Brendan O’Brien – and Seattle.

While it isn’t a concept album, Vitalogy sounds like one. Death and despair shroud the album, rendering even the explosive celebration of vinyl “Spin the Black Circle” somewhat muted. But that black cloud works to Pearl Jam’s advantage

Accelerated by Dave Abbruzzese’s rib-cracking drum intro, “Last Exit” kicks off the collection furiously — demanding that you sit down, shut up and pay attention. My initial reaction upon first hearing the lead-off single, “Spin The Black Circle,” was something along the lines of, “holy shit!” Decades later, my opinion hasn’t changed, by the way. Driven by Mike McCready and Stone Gossard’s breakneck, in-the-pit guitar riffage, the song is pushed further by Eddie Vedder’s urgent, signature-style vocal performance.

If the accusation is that I’ve remained partial to Vitalogy’s radio tracks over the years, While the delicate “Nothingman” and the garagey “Whipping” still move me, I continue to connect best with the straight up rock crunch of “Corduroy” and the honest purity of “Better Man.”

However, Vedder’s “Not for You” remains my personal favourite of this 14-track litter. Speaking to then-current youth culture, the song opens with beautiful organic keyboards, glossed by Vedder’s transparent vocals. Then, as Vedder veers off the rails, Jeff Ament’s chugging bass groove grabs ya in the nether region while layers of crazed guitar work wash over in a blaze of glory.

I’ve bought several of the band’s albums over the years. Vitalogy is the one Pearl Jam record I rushed to buy on Day One  In sum, Vitalogy — still sounds fresh today as way back. it’s still intoxicating. Still relevant. And 25 years later it still is a great rock record.

Release Date: November 22, 1994
Record Label: Epic Records

Pearl Jam

Comments
  1. Fantastic write up of a fantastic album. Vitalogy really rewrote the rule book for massive bands throwing out the big time and getting weird. Heyfoxymorphandlemanathatsme flipped my wig at the time. Bugs, Aye Davanita. I loved the looney stuff surrounding the thrashers and the deep grooves

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