Revisiting Pearl Jam’s second album “Vs.”

The Seattle band second album was released on September 19, 1993

Revisiting Pearl Jam’s second album “Vs.”

“Vs.” is the second studio album by American rock band Pearl Jam, released on September 19th, 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. With the Alternative Rock still dominating the charts, airwaves and MTV, Pearl Jam, like most of their peers from Seattle wanted to explore a different side of the success, and like Nirvana did it with “In Utero” also from 1993, they approached a more raw and experimental sound that wouldn’t reflect their previous commercially  successful albums. The songs on the album tackle personal as well as social and political concerns, this was the first time the band came out as political on an album. Vedder said that “you write what comes to you … You try to reflect the mood of the songs.”  The album opens with the double energetic “Go” and “Animal”, but topics on the album include child abuse in “Daughter” a beautiful acoustic song that became one of the band’s biggest hits, the  gun culture  in the rocking “Glorified G”, police racism  in the experimental “W.M.A.”, and the media on the aggressive “Blood”. “Daughter”, “Dissident”, and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” are three storytelling songs. “Daughter” tells the story of a child who is abused by her parents because they do not understand her learning disability;  The 70’s reminiscence of the rock feeling in “Dissident” tells the story of a woman who takes in a political fugitive; and another great acoustic song from the album,  “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” tells the story of an old lady who has been stuck in a small town her whole life. Commercially successful “Glorified G”, a song mocking gun enthusiasts, was inspired by an incident that involved Abbruzzese telling the band he had just bought two guns, which sparked a conversation about guns within the band. “W.M.A.” was inspired by an incident that happened outside Pearl Jam’s rehearsal studio in which Vedder got into an altercation with a group of police officers who hassled a black friend of his but ignored him. Vedder said that “Rearviewmirror”, one of the best songs in the album is about being “in a car, leaving … a bad situation.” Vedder stated that “Rats” is about the idea that “rats are probably a hell of a lot more admirable” than humans. “Leash” was written about the same girl that the Ten song “Why Go” is about. Regarding “Indifference”, Vedder said it is about “[trying to] do something to make some other peoples’ lives better than they are, even if it means going through hell. Three Faces of Me. “Vs.” debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart and stayed there for five weeks, it sold 950,378 copies in its first five days of release, which set a record for the most copies of an album sold in its first week of release and outperformed all other entries in the Billboard top ten that week combined. “Vs.” also received mostly positive and acclaim reviews from critics. Rolling Stone staff writer Paul Evans gave Vs. a favorable review, saying, “Few American bands have arrived more clearly talented than this one did with Ten; and Vs. tops even that debut.” He added, “Like Jim Morrison and Pete Townshend, Vedder makes a forte of his psychological-mythic explorations … As guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready paint dense and slashing backdrops, he invites us into a drama of experiment and strife.” The album included the hit singles “Go”, “Daughter”, “Animal”, and “Dissident”. All four singles placed on the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts. “Daughter” was the most successful song from “Vs.” on the rock charts, reaching the number one spot on both the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts, spending a total of eight weeks at number one on the former. Album tracks “Glorified G” and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” also charted. At the 1995 Grammy Awards, “Daughter” received a nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and “Go” received a nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. “Vs.” received a nomination for Best Rock Album.


“Vs.” is regarded as one of Pearl Jam’s best albums, no music videos were made for it, and the album had to go through the shadow of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain suicide just a few months after it’s released, in a period where finally Alternative Rock and Grunge was going off the radar due to it’s negativity and alienation, which motivated the darker and somber “Vitalogy” in 1994. 

Side 1
1 “Go”
2 “Animal”
3 “Daughter”
4 “Glorified G”
5 “Dissident”
6 “W.M.A.”

Side 2
7 “Blood”
8 “Rearviewmirror”
9 “Rats”
10 “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”
11 “Leash”
12 “Indifference”

All lyrics written by Eddie Vedder. All music is credited to Pearl Jam.

Dave Abbruzzese: drums
Jeff Ament: bass guitar
Stone Gossard: rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Mike McCready: lead guitar
Eddie Vedder: vocals, rhythm guitar (on “Rearviewmirror” and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”)

Recorded during: March–May 1993 on The Site in Nicasio, California and Potatohead Studio in Seattle, Washington
Produced by: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam
Release Date: September 19th, 1993
Label: Epic

“Go” Released: October 25, 1993
“Daughter” Released: December 20, 1993
“Animal” Released: April 4, 1994
“Dissident” Released: May 16, 1994

Strongest tracks:

“Go”, “Animal”, “Daughter”, “Dissident”, “Glorfied G.”, “Rearviewmirror”, “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”

Watch Pearl Jam performing “Animal” and “Rocking  In The Free World” (with Neil Young) at the 1993 MTV VMA (Available to watch on YouTube only click to open)

Listen to “Vs” on Spotify

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David Warren

David Warren an editor and author for Pop Expresso and in the free time enjoys making instrumental music - -  and to learn about history and cultures. Reach out at

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