Pearl Jam releases Vs., and the Newt’s right into it

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By Steve Newton

Twenty years ago Seattle grunge masters Pearl Jam released their second album, Vs., and seeing as the band is playing Vancouver’s Rogers Arena this Wednesday, I figured it was time to take a quick look back at the disc.

Vs. sold 950,378 copies its first week of release, and outperformed all other entries in the Billboard top ten that week combined.

But more importantly, it kicked ass.

Here’s my review, as it appeared in the Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 1993 issue of the Georgia Straight.

Although I became a fan of Pearl Jam the first time I heard its debut album, Ten, I must admit that I haven’t played that disc a lot since scoring a review copy back in ’91. Shortly after its release I saw the band play the Town Pump, and was thrilled by the live power of the groove-oriented songs, but they still weren’t the type of tunes I’d throw on at home to get a vibrant rock ‘n’ roll buzz happening.

The band has decided to rock out a bit more this time, though, as can be heard on the opening track of Vs., “Go”. A three-minute riff-o-rama driven by head-snapping snare and sporting the wildest Pearl Jam guitar freakout ever, the song is a quick signal that the group hasn’t let the huge success of its major-label debut soften its gritty resolve to make a racket.

Fans of Pearl Jam’s slower material will dig singer Eddie Vedder’s languid evocations on tunes such as “Daughter”, “Dissident”, and “Rats”, and the plaid-shirted grunge fans should howl happily along to “Blood” and “Animals”, but in my books the hook-filled boogie of “Glorified G” and “Rearviewmirror” is what really makes Vs. worth a dig into your purse.

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