fbpx ...

Concert Countdown

Pearl Jam Vs. Looking Back At The 1993 Masterpiece

Dive into the grunge era with Pearl Jam’s sophomore album “Vs.” Featuring raw energy and introspective lyrics, the band deftly navigates themes of adversity and societal commentary. From the anthemic “Daughter” to the poignant “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” each track showcases Pearl Jam’s evolution and resilience. Explore the timeless allure of “Vs.” today.

Pearl Jam Album Review of Vs

Unveiling the Next Chapter

Pearl Jam, the iconic rock band from Seattle, was catapulted into stardom with their 1991 debut album, “Ten.” Despite their meteoric rise, the pressure to follow up with another groundbreaking album loomed large. As the world eagerly anticipated their next move, Pearl Jam embarked on a journey that would redefine the landscape of rock music. Their sophomore effort, “Vs.,” would not only shatter records but also cement their status as one of the most influential bands of their generation.

Pearl Jam’s Sophomore Album, “Vs.”

In the wake of “Ten’s” unprecedented success, Pearl Jam found themselves navigating uncharted territory. Feeling the weight of expectations bearing down upon them, the band retreated to the Potatohead studio in Seattle and The Site studio in Nicasio, Calif., to begin crafting their next masterpiece. With acclaimed producer Brendan O’Brien at the helm, they embarked on a creative journey that would push the boundaries of their musical prowess.

The sessions for “Vs.” were marked by intense creativity and collaboration, with the band members immersing themselves fully in the songwriting process. Frontman Eddie Vedder poured his heart and soul into the lyrics, delving into themes of family turmoil, abuse, and the perils of fame. Against the backdrop of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard’s interlocking riffs, Jeff Ament’s pulsating basslines, and Dave Abbruzzese’s relentless drumming, Vedder’s vocals soared with raw emotion and intensity.

Pearl Jam Vs Tour

The Making of “Vs.”

In the wake of their groundbreaking debut album, “Ten,” Pearl Jam faced the daunting task of surpassing their own meteoric success. The pressure was palpable as they entered the studio to record their sophomore effort, with drummer Dave Abbruzzese joining the lineup alongside producer Brendan O’Brien. Bassist Jeff Ament reminisced about the tumultuous recording sessions, likening the experience to “making our first record all over again,” as the band grappled with the challenges of adapting to new dynamics and expectations.

A Unique Recording Process

Despite the inherent tension, “Vs.” emerged as a triumph of artistic expression. From the blistering opening track, “Go,” to the haunting melodies of “Daughter” and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” the album defies categorization, seamlessly blending elements of punk, metal, and folk into a cohesive sonic tapestry. Critics and fans alike were captivated by the album’s raw authenticity and unapologetic intensity, with Rolling Stone praising it as a testament to the band’s enduring talent and creativity.

Eddie Vedder: The Voice of “Vs.”

One of the defining features of “Vs.” is its unconventional recording process, which eschewed traditional methods in favor of a more organic and collaborative approach. Rather than recording in phases, the band opted to complete each song in its entirety before moving on to the next, allowing for a more fluid and immersive creative experience. Drummer Dave Abbruzzese reflected on the significance of this approach, noting that it kept the recording sessions fresh and dynamic, preventing the onset of creative stagnation.

Tracklist Overview and Review


The album bursts to life with the driving energy of “Go,” setting the stage for what’s to come. Vedder’s searing vocals and the relentless instrumentation make for a gripping opening statement.

The raw authenticity permeating the album becomes unmistakable as soon as the catchy guitar riffs kick in, followed by McCready’s electrifying guitar solo following the initial chorus. With lyrics stripped down to their essence, perfectly suited for impassioned cries, the song encapsulates a final plea to salvage a crumbling relationship:

As the desperate pleas escalate, reaching a fever pitch, listeners are drawn into a whirlwind of emotion where any semblance of order dissolves with each passing moment. What remains is a visceral outpouring of anger, confusion, and longing, characteristic of the

“Oh, please don’t go out on me, don’t go on me now
Never acted up before, don’t go on me now
I swear I never took it for granted, just thought of it now
Suppose I abused you, just passing it on
quintessential grunge anthem.” – Go/Pearl Jam


Continuing the onslaught, “Animal” delivers a one-two punch of aggression and intensity. Vedder’s impassioned delivery and the band’s ferocious playing leave an indelible mark.

Delivering another surge of raw energy synonymous with the grunge scene, “Animal” echoes the hard-hitting intensity introduced by “Go.” Yet, amidst its blistering guitar riffs and relentless rhythm, this track reveals a nuanced lyrical depth and a subtle shift towards a slightly mellower tone. Originally earmarked as the album’s title, “Five Against One,” drawn from its opening lyrics, underscores the significance of this powerhouse song within the album’s narrative.

While “Animal” may share common ground with “Go” and other tracks on the album, its status as a standout is somewhat diminished. Nevertheless, it remains an electrifying piece, tailor-made for passionate sing-alongs during road trips. Reflecting themes of resilience and defiance, “Animal” offers a cathartic release for listeners from all walks of life.

“One, two, three, four, five against one
Five, five, against one
I said one, two, three, four, five against one
Fi-five, five, five, five against

Torch her from you to me, yeah
Abduct it from the street

I’d rather be, I’d rather be with
I’d rather be with an animal, ah
Rah” – Animal/Pearl Jam


A standout track, “Daughter” showcases Vedder’s lyrical prowess as he navigates themes of abuse and resilience. The juxtaposition of acoustic melodies and explosive choruses creates a dynamic listening experience.

In a notable departure from the album’s preceding tracks, “Daughter” emerges as a poignant narrative, showcasing Pearl Jam’s mastery in storytelling. The song unfolds the tale of a young girl grappling with an undiagnosed learning disability within the confines of an abusive and neglectful household.

During the era, many children with learning disabilities faced the stigma of being labeled as “problem children,” unfairly deemed as intentionally rebellious and challenging to handle. Through “Daughter,” Pearl Jam sheds light on the plight of this misunderstood character, whose quest for acceptance is met with obstacles both within her family and the wider world. The lyrics poignantly capture her tumultuous emotions, vividly portraying her anguish and frustration as she navigates a world that should offer solace and support but instead presents adversity and alienation.

“Alone, listless
Breakfast table in an otherwise empty room

Young girl, violence
Center of her own attention
The mother reads aloud, child tries to understand it
Tries to make her proud

The shades go down, it’s in her head
Painted room, can’t deny there’s something wrong

Don’t call me daughter, not fit to
The picture kept will remind me

Don’t call me daughter, not fit to
The picture kept will remind me
Don’t call me” – Daughter/Pearl Jam

“Glorified G”

With its blistering guitars and thought-provoking lyrics, “Glorified G” takes aim at gun culture and societal hypocrisy. Vedder’s impassioned vocals drive home the song’s powerful message.

Presenting a unique addition to the album, “Glorified G” stands out as a personal favorite with its distinctive and thought-provoking composition. Satirical lyrics, addressing issues of gun culture and toxic masculinity, are complemented by Jeff Ament’s upright bass and a dynamic fusion of guitar riffs from Gosserand and McCready, blending elements of country, funk, and rock into a memorable sound.

Upon initial listen, the track may appear earnest, but it quickly reveals itself as a caricature of American gun owners. Inspired by drummer Dave Abbruzzese’s admission of purchasing a firearm, which stirred controversy within the band, particularly with Vedder, “Glorified G” emerged from discussions surrounding guns in America.

Delving deeper into the song unveils layers of complexity, from references to doublethink indoctrination to the juxtaposition of manliness with the possession of arms. Despite being crafted by a group of white male musicians, one of whom is a gun owner, the song exhibits a remarkable level of self-awareness. Its wit and originality contribute to its standout status, while its critique of toxic masculinity intertwined with weaponry adds depth and relevance to the album’s thematic landscape.

“Got a gun, fact I got two
That’s okay man ’cause I love God
Glorified version of a pellet gun
Feel so manly when armed

(Glorified version of a) pellet gun
(Glorified version of a) pellet gun
(Glorified version of a) pellet gun
(Glorified version of a) pellet gun

Double think, dumb is strength
Never shot at a living thing

Glorified version of a pellet gun
Feel so manly when armed” – Glorified G/Pearl Jam


Against a backdrop of swirling guitars and pulsating rhythms, “Dissident” tells a tale of betrayal and defiance. Vedder’s emotive delivery captures the song’s underlying sense of urgency and rebellion.

“Dissident” unfolds as another narrative-driven track, offering a glimpse into a woman’s poignant journey of harboring a refugee and grappling with the guilt of relinquishing him when the burden becomes overwhelming. It’s remarkable how Vedder and the band adeptly inhabit characters distinct from themselves, weaving intricate storylines infused with emotion and depth.

The thematic thread of adversity persists, portraying the internal conflict of the woman as she wrestles with remorse, alongside the external tensions between the refugee and governmental forces. Regret, tragedy, and personal accountability further enrich the narrative landscape of the track.

“Dissident” maintains the album’s signature hard-hitting grunge sound, fostering a sense of cohesion amidst the diverse themes and musical choices throughout Vs. The album’s beauty lies in its ability to integrate a myriad of songs into a cohesive whole, each contributing to the overarching narrative and sonic tapestry.

“She nursed him there, ooh, over a night
I wasn’t so sure she wanted him to stay

What to say? What to say?
But soon she was down, soon he was low
At a quarter past, a holy no

She had to turn around

When she couldn’t hold, oh, she folded
A dissident is here

Escape is never the safest path
Oh, a dissidence, a dissident is here

And to this day she’s glided on
Always home but so far away
Like a word misplaced
Nothing said, what a waste

But when she had contact with the conflict
There was meaning but she sold him to the state

She had to turn around” – Dissident/Pearl Jam


Addressing issues of racism and police brutality, “W.M.A.” packs a visceral punch with its haunting lyrics and hypnotic groove. Vedder’s impassioned vocals shine a spotlight on the injustices of society.

In “W.M.A.,” the drums take center stage, propelling a narrative of a white man confronting police brutality against his black peers. Eddie Vedder penned this poignant track in response to the systemic racial injustices prevalent in America, particularly the issue of mass incarceration. His inspiration stemmed from witnessing the unjust treatment of his black friend by law enforcement, a stark contrast to Vedder’s own untouched status in the encounter. This stark disparity fueled Vedder’s indignation, birthing the fervent anthem “W.M.A.”

Vedder’s lyricism pierces through common misconceptions, challenging the notion of a white Jesus with the poignant line, “Jesus greets me, looks just like me.” He highlights the inherent privilege enjoyed by white individuals in America, likening it to a fortuitous lottery win solely based on birth. The song pulsates with raw emotion, particularly evident in the rapid-fire, impassioned chorus repeatedly lamenting, “Police stopped my brother again.”

Driven by a relentless bass line and percussion, “W.M.A.” channels the spirit of protest chants, echoing Vedder’s grievances and solidarity with the black community. Vedder adeptly navigates the delicate balance of amplifying marginalized voices without appropriating their experiences, crafting a compelling anthem that resonates with its fervent plea for justice.

“He won the lottery when he was born
Took his mother’s white breast to his tongue
Trained like dogs, color and smell
Walks by me to get to him
Police man
Police man

(All my pieces)
(All my pieces)

He won the lottery by being born
Big hand slapped the white male American

Do no wrong, so clean cut
Dirty his hands, it comes right off

Police man
Police man

Police stopped my brother again
Police stopped my brother again
Police stopped my brother again
Police man
Police man

Jesus greets me, looks just like me

Do no wrong, so clean cut
Dirty his hands, it comes right off

Police man, police man
Police man”  – WMA/Pearl Jam


This track unleashes a torrent of raw emotion and aggression, with Vedder railing against the invasive nature of the media. The band’s relentless energy drives the song forward with relentless intensity.

The genesis of the track “Blood” traces back to a riff crafted by Pearl Jam’s guitarist Stone Gossard. Reflecting on the creative process, bassist Jeff Ament shared insights in an interview, recalling Gossard’s penchant for crafting intricate, note-laden riffs during that period. Ament noted the challenge of complementing Gossard’s dense compositions with bass lines that could provide a solid foundation for vocalist Eddie Vedder’s lyrics.

Ament emphasized the delicate balance between complexity and simplicity in shaping the song’s melody, aiming to create a framework that would resonate with Vedder’s lyrical style. Sharing his own experimentation with bass tones at the time, Ament revealed a dual focus on blending deep, dub-inspired sounds with aggressive, overdriven tones. This sonic interplay is prominently showcased in “Blood,” where the bass alternates between these contrasting textures, adding depth and dynamism to the track’s overall composition.

Spin me round! Roll me over!
Fucking circus!
Stab it down! One way needle!
Pulled so slowly!

Drains and spills! Soaks the pages!
Fills their sponges!

It’s my blood!
It’s my blood!

Paint Ed big, turn Ed into
One of his enemies” – Blood/Pearl Jam


A driving anthem of defiance, “Rearviewmirror” sees Vedder casting off the shackles of the past and embracing a newfound sense of freedom. The band’s propulsive rhythms and soaring melodies make for an exhilarating listening experience.

Eddie Vedder penned “Rearviewmirror” as a departure from his stepfather, whom he deeply despised. The song reflects Vedder’s determination to leave him behind, metaphorically driving away without a second glance. Notably, Vedder’s stepfather also influenced other tracks like “Alive” and “Better Man.”

Featured on Pearl Jam’s second album, Vs., “Rearviewmirror” posed a challenge during production. Vedder had been tinkering with the song for years and brought it to the recording sessions, but struggled to find a vocal take he was satisfied with. Additionally, Dave Abbruzzese, the drummer at the time, faced difficulties in nailing his part. However, towards the end of the sessions, both Vedder and Abbruzzese managed to deliver standout performances. Legend has it that Abbruzzese celebrated by tossing his drumsticks across the studio, an act immortalized in the recording itself.

“I took a drive today
Time to emancipate
I guess it was the beatings made me wise
But I’m not about to give thanks or apologize

I couldn’t breathe, holding me down
Hand on my face, pushed to the ground
Enmity gaged, united by fear
Forced to endure what I could not forgive

I seem to look away
The wounds in the mirror waved
It wasn’t my surface
Most defiled

Head at your feet, fool to your crown
Fist on my plate, swallowed it down
Enmity gaged, united by fear
Tried to endure what I could not forgive, yeah” – Rearview Mirror/Pearl Jam


Funk-infused rhythms and biting social commentary collide in “Rats,” as Vedder skewers societal hypocrisy with razor-sharp wit. The band’s tight musicianship and infectious energy make for an irresistible combination.

In this album cut, Pearl Jam draws a parallel between the human race and rodents. Frontman Eddie Vedder expressed in an interview with Melody Maker that he finds rats “probably a hell of a lot more admirable.”

Adding an intriguing twist, the song concludes with the lyric, “Ben, the two of us need look no more,” which is actually the opening line from Michael Jackson’s “Ben.” This track serves as the title song for the 1972 film of the same name, a sequel to 1971’s “Willard.” The movie depicts a colony of rats usurping the human world, with Ben, the lead rat, forming a bond with a sick young boy afflicted with heart trouble.

“They don’t eat, don’t sleep
They don’t feed, they don’t seethe
Bare their gums when they moan and squeak
Lick the dirt off a larger one’s feet
They don’t push, don’t crowd
Congregate until they’re much too loud
Fuck to procreate ’til they are dead
Drink the blood of their so-called best friend

They don’t scurry when something bigger comes their way
Don’t pack themselves together and run as one
Don’t shit where they’re not supposed to
Don’t take what’s not theirs, they don’t compare

They don’t scam, don’t fight
Don’t oppress an equal’s given right
Starve the poor so they can be well-fed
Line their holes with the dead one’s bread” – Rats/Pearl Jam

“Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”

A poignant meditation on small-town life and missed opportunities, “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” resonates with emotional depth and sincerity. Vedder’s introspective lyrics are matched by the band’s understated yet powerful performance.

“Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” had its origins in a poem penned by Eddie Vedder. It narrates the reunion of two individuals, possibly former lovers, who cross paths after many years. One remained rooted in the same town throughout their life, while the other ventured elsewhere. The essence of the song encapsulates themes of aging and retrospection.

In the Pearl Jam biography penned by Mick Wall, Vedder delved into the inspiration behind the track: “It’s kind of about a lady, and she’s getting on in years, and she’s stuck in this small town. Small towns fascinate me: You either struggle like hell to get out, to some people want to stay ’cause then they’re the big fish in the small pond, and then others just kind of get stuck there. So here she is working in this little place, and then an old flame comes in, and he’s probably driving a nice car and looking kind of sharp – not a fancy car, but he’s moved on. And then she sees him, and at first she doesn’t even remember who he is, and then she realizes who it is. She’s just too embarrassed to say ‘hello.'”

“I seem to recognize your face
Haunting familiar, yet I can’t seem to place it
Cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
Lifetimes are catching up with me

All these changes taking place
I wish I’d seen the place
But no one’s ever taken me

Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away

I swear I recognize your breath
Memories, like fingerprints, are slowly raising
Me you wouldn’t recall for I’m not my former
It’s hard when you’re stuck upon the shelf

I changed by not changing at all
Small town predicts my fate
Perhaps that’s what no one wants to see

I just want to scream, “Hello
My god, it’s been so long, never dreamed you’d return
But now here you are, and here I am”
Hearts and thoughts they fade away” – Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In a Small Town/Pearl Jam


A rallying cry against conformity and complacency, “Leash” explodes with raw energy and defiance. Vedder’s searing vocals and the band’s blistering instrumentation make for an electrifying listening experience.

Eddie Vedder confronts the weight of being hailed as the voice of a generation, a title bestowed upon him by the media. “I’m no guide, but I’m by your side,” he sings, relinquishing the throne while reaffirming his solidarity with his fans. The mounting pressure is palpable, as reflected in the fervent chorus:

“Drop the leash Get outta’ my f–kin’ face”

Vedder, notably uneasy with the spotlight, finds himself thrust into the limelight, yet his reluctance paradoxically adds to his allure, imbuing him with an aura of mystery and authenticity. This marked a pivotal shift in both musical and cultural landscapes, veering away from artificiality toward rawness and sincerity. While it took the band some time to reconcile their role within this new paradigm, their unwavering cohesion and mutual understanding enabled them to weather the storm of extreme fame, emerging even stronger and remaining culturally relevant decades later, albeit with a more streamlined fanbase.

“Troubled souls unite
We got ourselves tonight

I am fuel, you are friends
We got the means to make amends
I am lost, I’m no guide
But I’m by your side
I am right by your side, yeah

Young lover I stand
It was their idea, I proved to be a man
Take my fucking hand
It was their idea, I proved to be a man

Will myself to find a home
A home within myself
We will find a way
We will find our place

Drop the leash, drop the leash…
Get outta my fuckin’ face
Drop the leash, drop the leash
Get outta my fuckin’ face” –  Leash/Pearl Jam


Closing out the album on a haunting note, “Indifference” explores themes of loneliness and disillusionment with stark honesty. Vedder’s plaintive vocals and the band’s stripped-down arrangement create a sense of intimacy and vulnerability.

In an interview with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, he shared insights into the genesis of the song. “We were hanging out with a bunch of acoustic instruments somewhere, and I started playing what is the bassline in that song,” he recalled. “I remember Ed said, ‘I’ll sing over that kind of s–t all day.'”

“I got home that night and made sure I remembered how to play it, and I recorded it. The next time we went into the studio to record, I started playing that bit, and he immediately started singing over it, and Stone [Gossard] came up with that beautiful guitar melody. That song came together really, really quickly.”

Closing out Pearl Jam’s second album, Vs., “Indifference” marked a departure from their debut album, Ten, recorded on a shoestring budget in Seattle. For Vs., they upgraded to a prestigious studio in California, enlisting renowned producer Brendan O’Brien (known for his work with Black Crowes and Red Hot Chili Peppers). Vedder, feeling out of place in the new environment, resorted to sleeping in his truck. Despite the discomfort, he delivered lyrics that were introspective and often somber. “Indifference” stands out for its juxtaposition of Vedder’s poignant words against a mellow backdrop.

“I will light the match this morning so I won’t be alone
Watch as she lies silent, for soon night will be gone
Oh, I will stand arms outstretched, pretend I’m free to roam
Oh, I will make my way through one more day in hell

How much difference does it make?
How much difference does it make?

I will hold the candle ’til it burns up my arm
Oh, I’ll keep taking punches until their will grows tired
Oh, I will stare the sun down until my eyes go blind
Hey, I won’t change direction, and I won’t change my mind” –  Indifference/Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam 5 Against 1

Themes and Symbolism

Frontman Eddie Vedder’s enigmatic presence looms large over “Vs.,” his impassioned vocals and introspective lyrics infusing each track with a sense of urgency and authenticity. Vedder’s unconventional methods, including his habit of sleeping in his truck to find inspiration, added an element of mystique to the recording process, further fueling speculation and intrigue surrounding the album’s creation. Vedder’s raw emotional delivery, coupled with his knack for storytelling, elevates “Vs.” from a mere collection of songs to a visceral and deeply personal journey through the human experience.

The Legacy of “Vs.”

Beyond its musical merits, “Vs.” is also notable for its thought-provoking lyrical content and thematic depth. Songs like “W.M.A.” and “Glorified G” tackle issues of social injustice and identity, offering poignant commentary on the state of society and the human condition. Vedder’s poignant storytelling and keen observational skills shine through, inviting listeners to confront uncomfortable truths and confrontations.

A Legacy Defined

In the annals of rock history, “Vs.” stands as a testament to Pearl Jam’s artistic vision and musical innovation. With its fearless exploration of themes both personal and political, the album transcends genre boundaries and continues to resonate with audiences worldwide. As Pearl Jam’s magnum opus, “Vs.” remains a timeless masterpiece that continues to inspire and captivate listeners to this day.

Stay Updated With Breaking Recording Artist NewsTour Announcements, Weekly Featured Concert Tickets and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to stay connected with your favorite artists.

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.