Pearl Jam: Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar, accordion); Stone Gossard (vocals,
guitar, Mellotron); Mike McCready (vocals, guitar, slide guitar); Jeff Ament
(vocals, acoustic & electric bass); Dave Abbruzzese (drums).
Additional personnel: Jack Irons (drums).
Recorded in Seattle, Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana.
The CD version of VITALOGY includes a 32-page book; the cassette version includes a 16-page book.
“Spin The Black Circle” won a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. VITALOGY was nominated for 1996 Grammys for Album Of The Year and Best Rock Album.
Wider in scope than any 70mm film, VITALOGY is the album on which Pearl Jam demands that the pigeonholing cease and desist once and for all. Whether by throwing meatless bones at some blindly zealous fans, or by moving their sound out of the grunge-land that they once called home, Vedder & Co. present this 55-minute tour de force as a treatise to win over the alternative non-believers and drop the excess baggage of fame.
There's nothing fancy to VITALOGY: no ACHTUNG BABY or OUT OF TIME-like transformations, no post-modern gimmickry, no Steve Albini sound. Nevertheless, VITALOGY is revolutionary by Pearl Jam standards because it presents a collection of actually crafted songs, and succeeds in spotlighting the band's growing diversity.
The proof is all over the place: “Corduroy” is an honest-to-goodness pop song, disguised in Seattle garb; “Not For You” brings the band's Crazy Horse fetish to the forefront, combining a folky melody with a ripping, electric arrangement; while “Bugs,” “Aye Davanita,” and “Hey Foxymophandlemama” are, respectively, an accordion-driven stomp, a raga-like instrumental, and a feedback-laden sound collage. All are delivered with such taste and assurance, that rather than sounding unnatural and forced, they only further illuminate Pearl Jam's artistic strides. Each helps make VITALOGY a proud notch on the band's growing musical belt.
What the critics say…
Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.55) – Included in Rolling Stone's “Essential Recordings of the 90's.”
Rolling Stone (12/15/94, pp.91–93) – 4 Stars – Excellent – “…it's a wildly uneven and difficult record, sometimes maddening, sometimes ridiculous, often powerful…”
Spin (12/95, p.62) – Ranked #5 on Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of ‘95.’
Entertainment Weekly (12/9/94, pp.72–74) – “…one seriously demented record…VITALOGY leaves an odd, unsettling aftertaste. You walk away from it energized, but wondering what price Eddie Vedder, and Pearl Jam, will ultimately pay for it…” – Rating: B+
Q (1/95, pp.248–249) – 4 Stars – Excellent – “…anything but the sound of a band stuck in a rut…It speaks volumes for Pearl Jam's continuing creative acumen that they can respond so confidently to a new punk scene that has sprung up…as a reaction [to] the lumbering heaviosity …of the old grunge pioneers…”
Musician (1–2/95, p.71) – “…In 1994 rawness, unpredictability and artistic depth are rare…America's most popular rock'n'roll band boasts all three attributes–and sounds damn fine to boot…”
Village Voice (2/28/95) – Ranked #25 in the Village Voice's 1994 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
Mojo (Publisher) (1/95, p.104) – “…VITALOGY is a deeply thought-out representation of what fame means, and the vision it describes is not pretty…[includes] themes of diverted passions, frustration and amorphous discontent…”
NME (Magazine) (12/24/94, p.23) – Ranked #40 on NME's list of the `Top 50 Albums Of 1994.'