Vitalogy, Pearl Jam's third studio release is somewhat different from their previous two albums, Ten
as you will notice with a first listen. This is another solid release from the Seattle rockers and a very commercially successful one at that, thought not as much as their massive debut. Vitalogy isn't a direct concept album, however seems like one as the songs flow together and the lyrics seem to correspond with each other. Many people seem to think that the death of Kurt Cobain had an effect on the lyrics of the record as some lyrics deal with death (Last Exit, Immortality), but most of the songs were written before his death in April of '94, however, Immortality
is said to be a tribue to him. Vitalogy was recorded mostly in Seattle, and was released in December, 1994 as grunge era was slowly beginning to fade away. This record contains some of Pearl Jam's best hard rock songs as well as some of their best ballads. However, the album has some very strange or odd songs, that may just seem like filler to some, but are experimentations which may bring the record down a bit for some people when they first listen to the album. Pearl Jam even won a Grammy with the song Spin The Black Circle
for best rock song. This album would be the last album to sell multi-million copies world wide though. Pearl Jam's Vitalogy
is listed at #492 on Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time and it is the last Pearl Jam record to feature Dave Abbruzzese on drums.
Eddie Vedder's vocal performance on this record is just amazing as he sings with intensity, emotion and at times he sounds like he is going to lose his voice like on Spin The Black Circle
which just makes the song even better. Stone Gossard and Mike McCready give solid performances on guitar, as they have the past two as well. There weren"t as many great solos on the record as oppose to their other albums, but there still some good ones, mainly the solo on Corduroy. Bassist Jeff Ament and drummer Dave Abbruzzese give stellar performances as well. Eddie does do a good job on the song writing as he writes some serious lyrics for example on Nothingman where he sings: "Once divided nothing left to subtract/Some words when spoken can"t be taken back/Walks on his own with thoughts he can't help thinking/Futures above but in the past he's slow and sinking"
. Eddie also sings some weird yet humorous lyrics like from Satan's Bed
(written by Stone Gossard) where Eddie says: "I've never slept in Satan's Bed/Although I must admit still visits my place/Uninvited as you know he don't wait"
. And with all those lyrics he also sings just some plain creepy ones like in Bugs
: "I got bugs in my room, bugs in my bed, bugs in my ears; they're eggs on my head"
. Enough about the lyrics, lets get to the music.
delivers some of Pearl Jam's best hard rock songs like the album opener Last Exit
, the Grammy winning, almost punk rock Spin The Black Circle
(which the lyrics refer to Eddie's love of vinyl records) and the single of the album Tremor Christ
. All three being standout tracks. The slower, ballad type songs (Immortality, Better Man, Nothingman) on the record are all well done. Better Man
, one of PJ's more popular songs, is just a great, upbeat song that starts really slow but picks up the pace as the song goes on. Immortality is definitely one of the best on the album as well as one of the longest at over five minutes. Eddie's vocals standout the most here as he sings over the quiet background guitar and slow drums. Nothingman
is the softest, calmest song on the album, and put together very nicely. Eddie sings the song very well with great emotion. Nothing instrumentally stands out on the track but the vocals make up for it. Track number eight, Corduroy
is in my opinion one of Pearl Jam's greatest songs. It blends between hard and soft rock with its changing tempos. It has a catchy verse and chorus and a great guitar solo as I mentioned earlier. Overall, just an amazing song.
The thing that brings the album down the most is the filler/experimental tracks, or on the other hand one might look at is Vitalogy's key signature and identity. But there's no denying these aren't the most accessible tracks, especially to first timers. Those songs being Pry, To
, Aye Davanita
and the album finale Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me
. Bugs has Eddie playing the accordion with him just talking throughout the song some weird lyrics. It was kind of interesting to hear the first time, but just got old quickly. Pry, To
is another weird song with Eddie spelling P-R-I-V-A-C-Y over and over. On the positive side, the music in the background is very different, but in a good way, kind of funky. And the song is only a minute long. Aye Davanita
is probably the most tolerable of the filler/experimental songs. It is basically an instrumental with many different types of instruments including what sounds like a tambourine and a keyboard. If you listen closely you can here Eddie whispering the title. It can just be seen as a transitional song that leads into Immortality
. The album finale, played by future drummer Jack Irons, the oddly titled Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me
is another very weird or experimental song. It has some random voices in it that are hardly comprehendible over some messy instruments. It also drags on way too long at over seven minutes. It ends the album on a rather strange note.
has far too many great tracks to let the experimentations drive away accessability, and to some, those songs make Vitalogy what it is. This definitely one of Pearl Jam's best releases to date and I recommend it any casual fan of Pearl Jam that doesn"t have this record. It shows Pearl Jam's more creative side, as well as some softer songs, but still shows they can make some great rock songs like on Ten
Pearl Jam on Vitalogy:
Eddie Vedder: Vocals/Guitar; Accordion on 'Bugs'
Stone Gossard: Guitar
Mike McCready: Guitar
Jeff Ament: Bass
Dave Abbruzzese: Drums
Spin The Black Circle