Sony Music - 19658836871
Pearl Jam arrived like a tidal wave with Ten in 1991, unassumingly emerging as one of the most popular bands in rock music and culture at large. With all eyes on them for a follow-up, the musicians opted to hold nothing back, cut deeper, and deliver a dark and dynamic 12-track opus in the form of Vs.
Powered by classics such as the heartbreakingly introspective "Daughter," acoustic nostalgia of "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town," primal punked-up fury of "Blood," and downright raw catharsis of "Leash," the album found the group at its rawest.
From the explosion of "Go" through the poignant exhale of "Indifference," it traced a journey through insecurity and uncertainty in the face of unwanted fame, stared down heavy themes such as abuse and neurodivergent learning disorders, raised a middle finger to America's gun obsession and police brutality, tackled the topic of suicide fearlessly, and even managed to let light peek through the cracks with some of the group's most treasured anthems ever.
In a 1993 Rolling Stone interview with Cameron Crowe, Eddie Vedder shared, "Music is an incredibly powerful medium to deliver a story by. But the best thing is, you have to have volume. You're supposed to play it loud. I would do anything to be around music. You don't even have to pay me."
Vs. is the sound of a band who won't compromise its message or meaning. It's the moment the tide really turned…
It also notably marked the first of many albums to be helmed by longtime collaborator Brendan O'Brien, kicking off a now three-decade partnership with the producer. Upon arrival, Vs. smashed records by moving over 950,000 copies during its first five days in stores, eclipsing the sales of the rest of the entire Billboard Top 10 combined. It clinched #1 on the respective chart for five weeks, logging the longest run at the top for any Pearl Jam release to date. It held the record for "most albums sold first-week" for the next five years and set the record for "most first-week vinyl sales," which would stand for the next 20 years.
Moving 10 million units worldwide, Vs. has since gone 7x-platinum in the States. Meanwhile, "Daughter" just reached RIAA platinum status, while "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town" has gone gold.
Retrospectively, Rolling Stone hailed, "Pearl Jam emerged victorious with Vs., an album that still stands as one of the strongest records of their long and storied career. Looser, heavier and angrier than their debut, Vs. found the band exploring new sounds and dynamics." Billboard proclaimed, "To date, the sophomore set that proved the band could do things its own way - a tactic that directly helped make its longevity possible."
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town