Pearl Jam
Vs.


4.5
superb

Review

by potsos USER (5 Reviews)
April 24th, 2009 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Vs is not a continuation of Ten, nor is it a radical departure. Instead, it is Pearl Jam presented the way the band initially intended.

If Pearl Jam had known that every album they released after Ten would be compared to their seminal debut with such intense scrutiny, maybe they'd have avoided Rick Parashar like the plague. It was his production that dusted every inch of sound on the album in an epic reverb that turned rim shots into coughs in a cathedral.

Obviously, there's more to it that that.

Pearl Jam never wrote another album that sounded exactly like Ten -- something no critic or fan has ever failed to point out -- vigorously. The list of bands with Pearl Jam's longevity and success that have found each release compared (usually negatively) to their debut album is short indeed. But the loudest complaints came with release of the criminally under-appreciated No Code and grew stronger with each successive release. And while the band was shunning success as early as '92, the music they were writing for their sophomore effort would cast brighter onto them the white hot light they had begun working so earnestly to avoid.

Despite refusing to make a video for the album's singles, shunning TV appearances, cancelling promotional dates and not even including the title anywhere on the cover or back artwork, Vs would become the fastest selling album of all time, with over 950,000 units sold in the first five days following release. It debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, outselling the next nine acts on the list combined. It remained there for five weeks and spawned four radio hits in Go, Dissident, Animal and number one hit Daughter. Pearl Jam was now the biggest rock band in the world, for better or worse.

While the band may have been thinking "Please go away", Eddie Vedder screams "Don't go out on me, don't go out on me now!" in Vs‘ blistering opener, Go. It is clear from the very beginning of this album that the stakes have been raised and the band now has more direction over their presentation. The result is a stripped down, raw sound that replaces the stadium bombast of Ten with a punk aesthetic that gives each song -- especially the myriad of heavy rockers -- a disarming urgency. Go and Animal form the most potent 1-2 punch the band would ever record. Gossard's riffs crunch and lurch heavier than ever without mixing board affectations muddling the sound while Mike McCready offers tasteful solos backed by Ament's winding, often fretless bass attack.

Like Ten, there is no filler present. Rockers like Dissident, Leash and Rearviewmirror and ballads Daughter, Elderly Woman and Indifference are among the best work the band has released. Even oddities like W.M.A. and Blood are cathartic releases, the latter is especially interesting, as it's easily the closest to metal the band ever approaches. McCready's single layer of clean guitar manages to keep the song from crossing over completely. Vs finds Pearl Jam incorporating funk into their sound to great effect and while it works throughout, never does it come together quite as perfectly as it does on Rats, an underappreciated song that might be the best on the album. The guitar work is interesting and engaging, Ament's yeoman-like bass work winds and turns while Eddie Vedder's emphatic vocals compare humans unfavorably to rodents.

Also featured prominently is new drummer Dave Abbruzzese, who is at least partly responsible for Pearl Jam's more visceral sound. The band never sounded the same after his firing in 1994, for better or worse. He was the most versatile and talented of any of the band's succession of kitmen and his performances on Vs, Vitalogy and MTV Unplugged are exemplary.

Vs is not a continuation of Ten, nor is it a radical departure. Instead, it is Pearl Jam presented the way the band initially intended and it all comes together to make it the best, most consistent album they would ever release.


user ratings (1454)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2009


17222 Comments


nice work.

potsos
April 24th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, good sir.

darthbarf
April 24th 2009


445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review. It's a lot better than my old Vs. review (grungeguy88)

Fugue
April 24th 2009


7353 Comments


Another very good review, welcome to Sputnik :-)

potsos
April 24th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the kind words. This is an awesome website. Really enjoying reading all the cool reviews.

shindip
April 24th 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i still think Ten is the best PJ album by miles, but this is still really good. dissident is awesine

Merkaba33
April 25th 2009


702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet review. Enjoyed it all the way through. And you're right, Rats is underrated. One of their best.

Douchebag
April 25th 2009


3624 Comments


I should probably pick this up. I only have Ten.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
April 25th 2009


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review, pos'd. I especially liked the stuff about the albums chart success, I had no idea it was so big at the time. I like this, but I don't think it even comes close to Ten, which for me is more consistant and has far superior songs.

kygermo
April 25th 2009


996 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A great record, and a classic for the 90s. I remember my brother bought it on the release day all the way back in 93 and I remember looking right at the Orange cd thinking "whoa". brings back excellent memories. Bloody strong record.

lostforwords
April 25th 2009


446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review. Ten is obviously my favorite but Vs is the closest they ever got to it. And i couldn't agree more with what you say about Abbruzzese!He was awsome!

potsos
April 25th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not surprised to hear most people saying they prefer Ten to Vs (or anything else in the PJ catalog, for that matter). I was a bit late on the PJ bandwagon, not getting into them until the summer of 1993 (I was a junior in high school). But that summer, I spent damn near every night wearing out my cassette tape of Ten until it broke completely. I must have listened to it 10,000 times. I clearly remember sitting in detention one afternoon and spending the entire 4 hours jotting the lyrics to the entire album. So when Vs came out, I devoured the new album whole. I remember thinking as Go transitioned into Animal, "I can't fucking believe this. It's going to be even better than Ten."

Preference like this is, of course, wildly personal. I don't expect everyone to feel the same way as I do, especially when Ten was so incredible. I don't even know if I really feel Vs is a better album or if I was just so blown away that they followed Ten with such a solid album. Regardless, I think most people would agree that Ten, Vs and Vitalogy represent a point in the band's sound that they would never recapture (most likely on purpose).

darthbarf
April 25th 2009


445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Potsos. I like Vs. a little more than Ten.

potsos
April 25th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Potsos. I like Vs. a little more than Ten


I knew I wasn't alone. :D



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