#153 Pearl Jam – Vitalogy (1994)


Most of “Vitalogy” was recorded during breaks on the ” Vs.” tour and was in the can by early 1994. The record company, fearing over-saturation, held the disc off until late November of that year. The band, after 2 huge commercial hits, was facing a backlash, especially from others in the grunge community, accusing them of being too commercial. This led to Pearl Jam taking actions to fight back at the system that they would later admit “killed their career”. They refused to produce any videos for this record, as they also had done on their previous record. The band insisted that the album not only be produced in vinyl, but that it be released in vinyl 2 weeks prior to the cd release.  They packaged the album like a book, shunning the industry standard jewel cases that cds were released in. This not only cost their record company 50 cents more a disc to produce, but it also pissed off retailers because of its non-traditional packaging it was not easy to stock or display. But perhaps their biggest “f you” to the industry was refusing to play arenas that were controlled by industry giant promoter Ticketmaster. This led to the band having trouble booking venues within the United States. Pearl Jam was highly disappointed that no other bands join them in this protest. This was the situation swirling around the band when they released “Vitalogy” (which means the study of life). It was their last big commercial success and was  a very strong effort. It may not be as complete throughout as its two predecessors,but it has some great cuts.The feeling that is produced by Ament & Gossard sets a dark edgy sound, especially on tracks that are slowed down, such as “Not For You” or “nothingman”. Eddie actually illiterates on “nothingman” and allows you to appreciate the depth of his lyrics. You can feel the emptiness and desperation in his voice.”Tremor Christ” offers stuttered, disjointed guitars and the classic Vedder moan/howl.”Corduroy” barking back to a classic rock sound with Eddie almost prancing vocally thru the song & adding his personal touch(I would rather starve than eat your bread & can’t buy what I want because its free). And of course their biggest hit on this record “Better Man”. The band had originally recorded this for their previous album, but refused to include it for fear that it was too commercial sounding. Thankfully they reconsidered for this effort. The song tells the story of a woman, who while waiting for her man to come home goes thru the self-realization that she is no longer in love with him and despite that she will stay with him because she can’t find a “Better Man” .

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