Revisiting the times and songs of Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy” 

The album was released first on vinyl 25 years ago today

Revisiting the times and songs of Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy”

In 1994 Grunge Rock in it’s original form was quickly being replaced by safer and softer music trends, such as the rise of boybands and girlbands and the new R&B. The suicide of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain earlier in 1994 blew the wind away from the Grunge Rock mainstream attention, this was mainly due to the negativity and anger present on the lyrics and attitude, when Cobain died the music industry safely moved on to what was considered a safer place. It was in this scenario that Pearl Jam released their third studio album “Vitalogy”, drastically different from it’s predecessors “Ten” and “Vs”. The album somber and darker tone was influenced by Cobain’s suicide and several songs hint at disappointment and loss of hope, musically it’s a low-fi album that features no high-energy Rock tracks or uses the same formula that was used on “Ten” and “Vs”. The album was first released on vinyl on November 22nd, 1994, in a time where that music format had already been long replaced by CD’s. There were no music videos made for the album, following the same trend as “Vs” where the band did no music videos neither. Though Pearl Jam always stayed in a border between mainstream Rock and Grunge, “Vitalogy” presents a new sound of the band, one that gets more influence from Alternative music rather than Grunge or mainstream Rock. The album starts with “Last Exit” quickly followed by “Spin The Black Circle”, an homage to vinyl records, several other songs in the album became radio hits despite Pearl Jam’s intention of not promoting it, such as “Not for You”, “Nothingman”, “Better Man” and “Immortality”, these four tracks in particularly are now among the most memorable Pearl Jam songs. With “Vitalogy”, Pearl Jam dabs into the experimentalist for the first time, if two years earlier Kurt Cobain had stated that he thought Pearl Jam’s music was “cock rock”, had he lived, he might had held a very different opinion on “Vitalogy”.



Other strong tracks in the album are “Tremor Christ”, “Whipping” and “Corduroy”. There is space for more experimental music such as “Aye Davanita” or “Bugs”. “Vitalogy” it’s a coherent album where the tracks were carefully chosen to have an unity between, an album that is much more than just Rock. For some, this was Pearl Jam’s last great record or the last that they were able to squeeze several memorable songs of it. It is with no doubt one of their finest and most well written albums. Despite the alternative and experimental music on it, “Vitalogy”, which was produced by Brendan O’Brien and the band, was a global commercial success worldwide and reached No.1 and the Top 10 charts in several countries, including No.1 in the US Album’s charts.In 1994 Grunge Rock in it’s original form was quickly being replaced by safer and softer music trends, such as the rise of boybands and girlbands and the new R&B. The suicide of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain earlier in 1994 blew the wind away from the Grunge Rock mainstream attention, this was mainly due to the negativity and anger present on the lyrics and attitude, when Cobain died the music industry safely moved on to what was considered a safer place. It was in this scenario that Pearl Jam released their third studio album “Vitalogy”, drastically different from it’s predecessors “Ten” and “Vs”. The album somber and darker tone was influenced by Cobain’s suicide and several songs hint at disappointment and loss of hope, musically it’s a low-fi album that features no high-energy Rock tracks or uses the same formula that was used on “Ten” and “Vs”. The album was first released on vinyl on November 22nd, 1994, in a time where that music format had already been long replaced by CD’s. There were no music videos made for the album, following the same trend as “Vs” where the band did no music videos neither. Though Pearl Jam always stayed in a border between mainstream Rock and Grunge, “Vitalogy” presents a new sound of the band, one that gets more influence from Alternative music rather than Grunge or mainstream Rock. The album starts with “Last Exit” quickly followed by “Spin The Black Circle”, an homage to vinyl records, several other songs in the album became radio hits despite Pearl Jam’s intention of not promoting it, such as “Not for You”, “Nothingman”, “Better Man” and “Immortality”, these four tracks in particularly are now among the most memorable Pearl Jam songs. With “Vitalogy”, Pearl Jam dabs into the experimental for the first time, if two years earlier Kurt Cobain had stated that he thought Pearl Jam’s music was “cock rock”, had he lived, he might had held a very different opinion on “Vitalogy”. Other strong tracks in the album are “Tremor Christ”, “Whipping” and “Corduroy”. There is space for more experimental music such as “Aye Davanita”, “Bugs” and “Stupid Mop”. “Vitalogy” it’s a coherent album where the tracks were carefully chosen to have an unity between, an album that is much more than just Rock. For some, this was Pearl Jam’s last great record or the last that they were able to squeeze several memorable songs of it. It is with no doubt one of their finest and most well written albums. Despite the alternative and experimental music on it, “Vitalogy”, which was produced by Brendan O’Brien and the band, was a global commercial success worldwide and reached No.1 and the Top 10 charts in several countries, including No.1 in the US Album’s charts.



Side 1
1 “Last Exit” Abbruzzese, Gossard
2 “Spin the Black Circle” Stone Gossard
3 “Not for You” Vedder
4 “Tremor Christ” Jeff Ament, Mike McCready
5 “Nothingman” Ament
6 “Whipping” Vedder

Side 2
7 “Pry, To” Abbruzzese, Ament, McCready, Gossard, Vedder
8 “Corduroy” Vedder
9 “Bugs” Vedder
10 “Satan’s Bed” Gossard
11 “Better Man” Vedder
12 “Aye Davanita” Abbruzzese, Ament, McCready, Gossard, Vedder
13 “Immortality” Vedder
14 “Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me” (Also known as “Stupid Mop”) Ament, Gossard, Jack Irons, McCready, Vedder

Personnel: 
Dave Abbruzzese: drums
Jeff Ament: bass guitar, standup, vocals, black and white photography
Stone Gossard: guitar, vocals, mellotron
Jack Irons: drums on “Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me”
Mike McCready: guitar, vocals, slide guitar
Eddie Vedder: vocals, guitar, accordion; credited as “e.v.” for book concept, theory of Vitalogy, typist

Produced by: Brendan O’Brien and Pearl Jam
Recorded during: November 1993 – October 1994 at Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, Washington; Southern Tracks Recording and Doppler Studios, Atlanta, Georgia; and Kingsway Studio, New Orleans, Louisiana
Released: November 22nd 1994 on vinyl, December 6th 1994 on CD
Label: Epic

Singles:
“Spin the Black Circle”/”Tremor Christ” Released: November 8, 1994
“Not for You” Released: March 21, 1995
“Immortality” Released: June 6, 1995

Strongest tracks: “Spin the Black Circle”, “Tremor Christ”, “Not for You”, “Immortality”, “Nothingman”, “Better Man”



Watch Pearl Jam performing “Immortality” live in 1994





Listen to “Vitalogy” on Spotify

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