Vs. Pearl Jam (1993)

Produced by Brendan O’Brien and Pearl Jam

In 1991 the music world changed forever. Rock stopped being bands with long hair and make-up and dressed like girls if we are being honest. Only those bands that did not depend on that fashion trend survived, bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses to name two. Then a little band from Seattle released this album called Nevermind and a new musical genre was born knows as Alternative Music. The lyrics changed from party songs to a little deeper lyric. Like always, when something explodes many bands appear but only a few remain when the trend begins to fall down. I think of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones head the 60’s bands, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in the ’70s, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses are still relevant, more Metallica, but GNR made a comeback with their last tour let’s see if that produces new music. From the alternative music genre, the two main bands are Nirvana and Pearl Jam, of course, bands like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains are very good bands, I don’t think they were in the same level as Pearl Jam and Nirvana. I believe that it was Nirvana that open the door for many of these bands and Kurt Cobain was really talented and compared with Lennon in terms of the impact he had on his generation. It was really sad what Cobain decided to do and he is missed. But I always preferred Pearl Jam over Nirvana. Ten, Pearl Jam’s debut album, is still one of my favorite albums, but with Vs. they really upgraded the sound, the music and the lyrics.

There was a lot of anticipation for this album as I remember. And MTV craved for something from the band and they used their MTV Award performance of Animal as a video because the band decided not to do any music video for the album. After the success of Ten, Pearl Jam was one of the hottest bands at the time. Released on October 19, 1993, with Vs. the band proved they could make another great album.

At that time deciding to not making music videos was a very brave decision because MTV had a real power on an artist album sales and popularity. But Vs. beat all odds and became a huge seller, spending 5 weeks at number one on Billboard Album Charts.

They used the same formula in terms of Eddie writing all the lyrics while the band wrote the music. But the results were very different than those found in Ten, the band improved so much from the last album. The songs are varied, more ambitious and with better lyrics. The band was really at their best as to this day, for me at least, this remains their best album.

The album has a lot of variety, from hard songs to slow ballads. They are good musicians and they sound good together. But the main reason I always like Pearl Jam the most was Eddie Vedder’s voice and his lyrics. I think of all the alternative bands he is the best songwriter, maybe Chris Cornell is close to him, but for me its Eddie. He can write straight rock like the song Go, fun lyrics like Glorified G and sweet lyrics like Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. The album also features social criticism in songs like Rats, W.M.A. In the song Leash Eddie tells his generation to not follow him, don’t view him as a leader, exclaiming that they are all the same and in the same place. I love how he sings: “I am lost, I’m no guide, but I’m by your side”, great lyrics with a furious ending screaming we are young drop the leash that holds us and to delight in our youth. Of course, I can’t say that now, but at the time it was a message to those who were growing up with these bands. The song Daughter continues the importance of parents being attentive to their children. Rearviewmirror is one of the best songs from the album. 

To this day, Pearl Jam continues to be relevant with new albums and tours. They are the one band that I would love to see live. If you never heard of them, this a good album to start. I think they struggled a bit when they departed from the formula of allowing Eddie to write the lyrics of the songs. But now their last two albums Eddie is back as the main writer and they have been great albums. 

Lyrics from the song Leash written by Eddie Vedder, music Stone Gossard and Mike McCready.

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