CD Review: Pearl Jam

(amazon.com)

Pearl Jam
vs. and Vitalogy (Deluxe Edition)
Epic/Legacy
By David Chiu

For that moment between 1992 and 1994, Pearl Jam was THE band, along with Nirvana, when grunge hit the mainstream. It seemed like after their debut Ten, whatever Pearl Jam put out at the time was like an event. That was certainly the case with vs., which became a smash hit right out of the gate. In a sense, vs. didn’t skip a beat stylistically or musically from Ten for its dynamic rockers such as “Go,” “Animal,” “Rearviewmirror” and “Glorified G,” along with the folksy “Daughter” and the acoustic “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.” Like its predecessor, vs. was overall straight-ahead, flawless rock. Vitalogy, on the other hand, sounded at times freeform and trippy (i.e. “Aya Davanita,” “Stupidmop”)– notwithstanding the album’s popular tracks “Bettter Man,” the stirring “Tremor Christ,” and the eloquent ballad “Nothingman.” Vitalogy’s sound varied from the noisy rocker “Spin the Black Bottle” and the intense “Corduroy” to the experimental “Bugs” and “Pry, To.” Both of those albums have now just been reissued, each with  bonus tracks from the era—among them a cover of Victoria Williams’ “Crazy Mary” and an alternate take of “Corduroy.” This special deluxe edition packages the two albums along with a previously unreleased 1994 concert from the Orpheum Theater; aside performances of tracks from Pearl Jam’s first three albums, it also features a spirited cover of the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” with a guest appearance by Mark Arm of Mudhoney.

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