Thanks to its stripped-down, lean production, Vitalogy stands as Pearl Jam's most original and uncompromising album. 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, injecting a nervous tension to brittle rockers like "Last Exit" and "Not for You," and especially introspective ballads like "Corduroy" and "Better Man." In between the straight rock numbers and the searching slow songs, Pearl Jam contribute their strangest music – the mantrafunk of "Aye Davanita," the sub-Tom Waits accordion romp of "Bugs," and the chilling sonic collage "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me." Pearl Jam are at their best when they're fighting, whether it's Ticketmaster, fame, or their own personal demons.
Vs. is the second studio album by the American rock band Pearl Jam, released on October 19, 1993 through Epic Records. After a relentless touring schedule in support of their 1991 debut album Ten, Pearl Jam headed into the studio in early 1993 facing the challenge of following up the commercial success of its debut. The resulting album, Vs., featured a rawer and more aggressive sound compared with the band's previous release. It was the band's first collaboration with producer Brendan O'Brien, and their first album with drummer Dave Abbruzzese. Vs. occupied the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart for five weeks, the longest duration for a Pearl Jam album. The album has been certified seven times platinum by the RIAA in the United States.
Nirvana's Nevermind may have been the album that broke grunge and alternative rock into the mainstream, but there's no underestimating the role that Pearl Jam's Ten played in keeping them there. Nirvana's appeal may have been huge, but it wasn't universal; rock radio still viewed them as too raw and punky, and some hard rock fans dismissed them as weird misfits. In retrospect, it's easy to see why Pearl Jam clicked with a mass audience – they weren't as metallic as Alice in Chains or Soundgarden, and of Seattle's Big Four, their sound owed the greatest debt to classic rock. With its intricately arranged guitar textures and expansive harmonic vocabulary, Ten especially recalled Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. But those touchstones might not have been immediately apparent, since – aside from Mike McCready's Clapton/Hendrix-style leads – every trace of blues influence has been completely stripped from the band's sound. Though they rock hard, Pearl Jam is too anti-star to swagger, too self-aware to puncture the album's air of gravity.