Friday, December 11, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (492) Vitalogy by Pearl Jam [1994]

Cover of "Vitalogy"Cover of Vitalogy
While I have never been a huge Pearl Jam fan (I don't dislike them though) and only knew one song from Number 492, Vitalogy was interesting and good. From my "research," i.e. a quick Google search, most reviewers saw it as an experimental album. The songs do span some differing sounds, for sure, but considering my preference for 60's psychedelic music, it did not seem to be all that experimental.

The album starts off with a basic alternative rock track, "Last Exit." It is nice and has a decent melody, but does not stand out particularly. Meanwhile, the punkier "Spin the Black Circle" just races along and reminds me of an earlier album I reviewed Hüsker Dü's 1985 release, New Day Rising. Suddenly the band delves into two songs that really groove, the great "Not for You" and "Tremor Christ."

A warped tape-like sound seperates "Tremor Christ" and the slow, pretty "Nothingman,' which turns out to be one of the highlights of the whole album. Following the decent rocker "Whipping," a throwaway group of funky nothingness, titled "Pry, To," takes up space. The good thing is you only have to suffer through that for a minute. "Corduroy" could serve as a one-song preview of the point of the whole album, the struggle of people trying to put one over on one another.

Then, I guess, the most experimental song, "Bugs" is annoying for a nearly three minutes. I tried to like this song. The lyrics are funny after all. But the accordion sounds like, well, an accordion. And it gets repetitive and frustrating. Next up is "Satan's Bed." It's fine, but the best thing about it is the group shouting " love." I like a good group shouted chorus.

Of course, the best highlight of the album has to be "Better Man." About a woman who sees herself stuck in a terrible relationship, the song became a huge hit. It is as good as anything that came out in the 90's.

Two of the last three songs are actually not very good. "Immortality" actually is maybe the second best song (in all of its depressing, earnest awesomeness), but the final song "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me" could easily have been left off. Nobody would miss that over seven minutes of experimental sounds. It is essentially a rip off of the Beatles' "Revolution No. 9" without being as inventive.

Despite that dud to end Vitalogy, the record as a whole impresses at points. And that is what I have found in these first almost ten albums. They have a couple great songs, a bunch of decent ones and a couple of uninteresting ones. I suspect that will change as we move along.

Better Man



  • Best songs: "Better Man," "Immortality," "Corduroy"
  • Worst songs: "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me," "Pry, To," "Aye Davanita"
  • Verdict: Four stars out of five
  • Next up: All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople (Rate Your Music predicts I'll give it a 3.70)

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1 comment:

  1. Pearl Jam is the standout band of the 1990's along with Nirvana. There music is honest and genuine and there is a message behind their music. Eddie Vedder is one of the great front-mans of all time, and McCready is an amazing guitar player.