Twenty years ago, before it became mostly an exercise in nostalgia, an argument stemming from the simple question “Nirvana or Pearl Jam?”, was worth having, even though by this time in 1994, Kurt Cobain was dead and Nirvana was effectively finished. In fact, the argument was more timely than ever before as 1994 drew to a close, because at this point two decades ago, we had a brand new album from each band.
On November 1, 1994, Nirvana released its MTV Unplugged show, originally recorded just under a year prior. A few weeks later, on November 22, Pearl Jam released Vitalogy on vinyl, followed by a CD release in early December. Both albums were major releases. Both were, and remain, critical successes. Both eventually sold millions of copies. Both are, for lack of a better term, grunge records. And both were close to never existing at all.
But beyond that old, subjective question about which band or which album is better, perhaps now we can ask ourselves a different one: Which of these two albums was more important? Which one spoke to the time in which it existed? And which album can tell us more, as a historic artifact, about the early 1990s?
The answer to all three is Vitalogy.Read More