It seemed the less Pearl Jam wanted the spotlight, the more popular the band got. They refused to make anymore videos after Jeremy off their first album and their second Vs. had the biggest first week sales to date. Then they canceled their 1994 tour in protest of Ticketmaster’s service charges and their third album Vitalogy went on to be the second fastest album at the time after behind Vs. and like Vs. is being inducted into the Scooter Hall of Fame. Those two albums that chronicle the band’s tenuous rise of fame will rereleased as a three CD set later this month. Or if you have money to burn, you can also pick up the limited edition five LPs, four CDs, one cassette, an 80-page composition notebook and a memorabilia-filled envelope set. Vinyl hounds will have to trek down to your favorite independent record store when they will be sold exclusively.
Much like its predecessor, Vitalogy starts off with a one-two punch of guitar infused aggression with Last Exit and Spin the Black Circle, an ode to vinyl. I have a theory that the band loves vinyl that they made a CD that is guaranteed to scratch the CD. But in a time when the band was anti-music videos, they came up with some interesting packaging with the medical book theme of Vitalogy (which is the study of life) and the collector cards that were packaged with No Code.
In an age when the band wasn’t keen on self promotion, Better Man was still a commercial success despite never actually being released as a single and is up there with Black as one of the band’s best melancholy songs to date. But my favorite song on the album is Corduroy, a driving song that has an edge to it but remains as catchy as any pop song at the time.
Vitalogy also saw that band go into the bizarre musically whether it be Eddie Vedder singing about bugs around a poorly played accordion or the singer just repeatedly spelling privacy over and over again for a minute, or the vitrally wordless Spanish tinged Aye Davanita that just fades out as it did in. But it didn’t get any weirder than the album closer Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me which saw more repeated phrases, this time about spanking. But the highs of Vitalogy helped Pearl Jam complete one of the best trio of first albums by any rock band.