November 22, 1994. Pearl Jam releases their third album in just over three years. And it kicks more ass than you give it credit for.
All the Vitalogy 25th anniversary pieces I’ve seen floating around the internet in recent days are taking the “a departure” and “challenged their audience” angles. And while those statements aren’t wrong, per se, I’m just not there. I listen to Vitalogy and I hear Pearl Jam still being Pearl Jam, but starting to give us a bit more of what they’re about. Influences are flaunted more audaciously. There’s a bit of that good kind of self-indulgence that you get from a band who knows they can get away with something. I like that.
In that spirit, I’m going to single out three of my favorite tracks from the album that I feel bear out my point, starting with the second track on the album–and the first single released–“Spin The Black Circle,” which is Pearl Jam at their punkest.
It was Nirvana–not Pearl Jam–who were the Seattle band that perfected the quiet-loud-quiet dynamic that would influence scores of rockers in the 90s. But it was Pearl Jam who put their own spin on the formula to give us the near-masterpiece that is “Corduroy.” I mean, Johnny Ramone once said it’s his favorite Pearl Jam song, so you know it’s the genuine article.
A seven-note riff. Two alternating chords. Eddie Vedder crooning in a minor key. To my ears, “Immortality” was Pearl Jam at their peak in 1994. So now that you know my faves, hit me with yours on the ROCK 92.2 Facebook or Twitter.