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 Post subject: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Fri December 28, 2012 4:01 pm 
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old thread archived here

listen to the album and share your thoughts

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 6:47 pm 
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Bump for Lets Actually Listening purposes.

I'm looking forward to this.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 6:58 pm 
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Last Exit: Their best opener, period. Juvenal has described the opening free jazz bit as grunge breaking down, and I've always loved that description. Everything about this song is fantastic. Last Exit is an exposed wound, cut straight to the bone, The drums sound like someone smashing their head against the wall. There is a tightly coiled tremor running through this song--like something is just about to implode in on itself. Eddie's hoarse, quasi spoken word vocals lend the song a dignity that it wouldn't have it he screamed, and it makes the 'let my spirit pass' moment feel that much more elemental when it happens (and is offset nicely against the deflated balloon guitar part that precedes it). I also love the solo and the anti-anthematic flourish at 1:58 going into the last chorus.

Can you believe that this song was Once only 3 short years ago.

It should be impossible for an album to actually have multiple songs better than Last Exit.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:06 pm 
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Spin the Black Circle: Probably the last song on Vitalogy I came around to. So much reckless ferocity disguising what's actually a curiously optimistic and life affirming song. Monster riff, some of Eddie's best extended screaming vocals, and Jeff and Dave are really tight. There's a wonderful transition from STBC into Not For You, especially the way the wall of sound outro stops on a dime.


Not For You: I love the lazy menace in this song and the waking a sleeping dragon quality. There's so much sneer and disgust in that riff--one of the most eloquent pieces of music in the catalog, given how much it says, and how clearly it says it in the music alone. The way the notes just linger in the air. The voice coming up through the fog feel of the bridge ends up repeating through the album. It feels like every song on this album is either buckling under its own internal compression or is a light coming through a dense fog--could be a lighthouse or a train.

Nice little solo by stone. And then the ominous and gentle quiet going into the final verse.

I am not necessarily a huge fan of profanity in lyrics, but there is so much primordial disgust in Eddie's fuck you that it works--like he's managed to envelope almost the entire world into it.

Their guitars have never sounded better than they do on this album.


The cracked church bell chiming in the outro is a nice discordant segue (musically and thematically) into Tremor Christ.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:15 pm 
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For me, any listen to Vitalogy is always informed by the knowledge that this was an album written and recorded on the road, in the midst of the beginning and middle of the most chaotic period (93-95) of PJ's existence. When I hear Last Exit, I think of the live premiere in New Orleans, with Eddie's introduction: "we, uh, invented this last night, and I don't think Mike knows it yet." STBC and NFY remind me of the frantic Vote for Choice shows to open the 94 tour, Satan's Bed of Atlanta 94, and Immortality of those sad, reckless Boston gigs after Cobain died when PJ really didn't seem sure they had a future. I know this thread is about the studio album, but everything about Vitalogy screams live and unhinged. Looking forward to this thread too.


Last edited by DeLima on Mon December 23, 2013 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:16 pm 
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Tremor Christ: Dave sounds amazing on this. Tremor Christ really fuses the best parts of Not For You and Last Exit--the foggy atmosphere of Not For You and the jagged tension of Last Exit.

Eddie's voice rides the line between world weary cynicism, youthful anger, broken hearted disappointment and a stubborn refusal to accept that this is the way things are.

The outro does such a great job lowering the volume without lowering the intensity, and it makes the Nothingman transition possible.


Nothingman: There is such a warm core at the heart of these chilly songs. I really can't get the light cutting through the fog feel out of my head. This is a song I've overplayed, but hearing it on the album reminds me how good it is. I love the tone on the guitars here.

Eddie really feels like he's right on top of you on these songs, in the best way possible--like he's singing through you. this is what starts to drop out for me in the albums that follow.





The great thing about listening to an album from start to finish is how the songs keep elevating each other. As good as all these songs are on their own, they each push the next one even higher.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:20 pm 
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Whipping: when this is the maybe the worst song on an album you did something right.

What is making that screaming sound in between the first verse and the the first chorus (it comes back during the outro)?

I love the rolling drums in the chorus, and the guitars sound like someone sounding a buried alarm.

I can't decide if this is a lesser song elevated by Vitalogy or a good song diminished by what's around it. I can't think of anything I don't like about it, but it doesn't stack up. Still a really good song, though


Pry, To: Fine, but not needed. Corduroy begins slowly enough, and nothingman already offered something of a break, and I'm more annoyed that i'm not already listening to Corduory than starting to anticipate corduroy. Surprisingly funky piece of music for this album.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:31 pm 
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Corduroy: Not my favorite pearl jam song (second favorite), but it's their best. On his best day Kurt Cobain wishes he wrote something this good.

I could live in this build all day (and the one between the first and second verses). Still the best one they've ever done. The main riff is so sharp and so smooth at the same time. If Corduroy was written today there would be a piano during the 'I don't want to take what you can give/I don't to hear from those who know' parts of the song.

Corduroy is so good at taking the stubborn single minded sense of refusal in Not For You and the desperation in Last Exit and turning it into a song about solidarity.

Quite possibly their best wall of sound outro.


Bugs: It's entirely possible this song made it possible for me to love Tom Waits. Of all the art/filler/transition/weird pieces on Vitalogy this is the only one I actually like, and I love that a song like this made the record, and that it follows the centerpiece.


There's something so fundamentally fearless about this album--and some of it comes from having nothing to lose, but I think some of it also comes from someplace else--a refusal to back down and a realization that pressing forward, and doing what you have to do, is the only way to survive. Stop and you die.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:34 pm 
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Satan's Bed The album version will forever languish in the shadow of the cleaner Atlanta 94 version (which I heard first and remains definitive for me), but it's still a monster song nevertheless. I love the crunchy textures in this song, almost like it's stomping on the bugs from the previous song.

Johnny Guitar really feels like a successor to this song, especially with how limber the vocal melody is, and the sense of humor in the guitars and lyrics. Great rock and roll solo in the bridge.

This is one of my favorite riffs. the solo is a nice call out to Last Exit. Never really noticed that before.


Dave isn't drumming on this, right? Who is?

Never noticed how many fade outs there are on this album.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:41 pm 
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Betterman: The linking piece of music is nice, but i wish they buried it between the tracks (a few early REM albums have that).

This is, I think, the best pop song of the 1990s, and one of the best ever. It has such a melancholy beauty to it, utterly infused with loss and longing and memory and apprehension (not quite fear) and dignity.


We all BoB a thank you for A: putting this thing on Vitalogy and B: splicing the faster second half onto the song. Betterman really needs it. Otherwise the song runs the risk of wallowing instead of offering out the possibility of something better. It reignites the fire her life had extinguished.

I love the little mini solo at 3:40


Like Daughter, I think this is a song that people have gotten tired of live and forget just how amazing it actually is



Aye Davanita: It's a good instrumental, but I can't help but think of it as a bit of a palate cleanser that wasn't really needed. I like it when I hear it, but I usually skip it.

God I love how the guitars always sound so good on this record.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:48 pm 
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Immortality: 99 out of 100 times this is where Vitalogy ends, which makes Immortality their best closer, and is arguably their best song. When I complain about how I find Binaural to be somewhat hollow and lifeless this is what I'm comparing it to--a song that captures the same sense of desolate empty space and the lost soul wandering in it, but there's still life and warmth and humanity here that gets stripped out of so much of that record. That's what made this so special--the way Eddie was able to take such an unrelenting and bleak and personal set of songs and still manage to invite you (and only you) into that space.

I don't even know what to highlight about this song. Everything is perfect. The music has always reminded me of a darker reprise of U2's One.

Completely unexpected solo from Mike, but one of his best. I love how heavy the build gets coming out of the chorus into the final verse, and how abruptly it flattens out into something quiet and open.

There's a very compelling methodical quality to this song, like slowly investigating a wound that you fear might be fatal.

The outro is really great, but so different in tone from the rest of the song, like the singer reached a crossroads and then freezes there, jogging in place, not sure where they're gonna go.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:50 pm 
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Stupid Mop: There are times I think this is creepy, and there are times I have a certain art house admiration for this sort of piece (and including it on an album released by, what was at the time, arguably the most important rock band in the world). But then there are other days where it seems pretentious and art-student and shooting for shock value. Maybe it is because my dog just started barking upstairs and so it's hard to really get into the space of the song.

Still, even on the good days this is a huge let down after Immortality Yeah, I don't feel like defending stpid mop today. and there's still 5 minutes more to go.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:52 pm 
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stip wrote:
Immortality: 99 out of 100 times this is where Vitalogy ends, which makes Immortality their best closer, and is arguably their best song. When I complain about how I find Binaural to be somewhat hollow and lifeless this is what I'm comparing it to--a song that captures the same sense of desolate empty space and the lost soul wandering in it, but there's still life and warmth and humanity here that gets stripped out of so much of that record. That's what made this so special--the way Eddie was able to take such an unrelenting and bleak and personal set of songs and still manage to invite you (and only you) into that space.

I don't even know what to highlight about this song. Everything is perfect. The music has always reminded me of a darker reprise of U2's One.

Completely unexpected solo from Mike, but one of his best. I love how heavy the build gets coming out of the chorus into the final verse, and how abruptly it flattens out into something quiet and open.

There's a very compelling methodical quality to this song, like slowly investigating a wound that you fear might be fatal.

The outro is really great, but so different in tone from the rest of the song, like the singer reached a crossroads and then freezes there, jogging in place, not sure where they're gonna go.



Well said, except there's nothing hollow and lifeless about parting ways, of the girl, etc. those are two of the 'warmest' sad songs in their catalogue


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:56 pm 
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Okay, this is both my favorite album of all time and, I think, the most compelling rock album of all time. I do think it's that good. the way it manages to take something so viscerally personal and invite the listener in, the way it takes something so narcissistic and melodramatic and cuts right to the human core of it. The songs are all pretty much amazing (how do you get last exit, not for you, tremor christ, nothingman, betterman, corduroy, and immortality on the same album), the guitar tones are fantastic, the rhythm section is totally locked in, and Eddie manages to simultaneously have a breakdown while maintaining iron clad control over himself, releasing just the right amount of pressure each time to push the explosion further down the line. In every single one of these songs every member of the band is doing something worth listening to. That you can have the same band putting spin the black circle, immortality, corduroy, and betterman on the same record is nuts.


This is as good as it gets. All other pearl jam albums have to answer to this standard. none have measured up.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:57 pm 
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DeLima wrote:
stip wrote:
Immortality: 99 out of 100 times this is where Vitalogy ends, which makes Immortality their best closer, and is arguably their best song. When I complain about how I find Binaural to be somewhat hollow and lifeless this is what I'm comparing it to--a song that captures the same sense of desolate empty space and the lost soul wandering in it, but there's still life and warmth and humanity here that gets stripped out of so much of that record. That's what made this so special--the way Eddie was able to take such an unrelenting and bleak and personal set of songs and still manage to invite you (and only you) into that space.

I don't even know what to highlight about this song. Everything is perfect. The music has always reminded me of a darker reprise of U2's One.

Completely unexpected solo from Mike, but one of his best. I love how heavy the build gets coming out of the chorus into the final verse, and how abruptly it flattens out into something quiet and open.

There's a very compelling methodical quality to this song, like slowly investigating a wound that you fear might be fatal.

The outro is really great, but so different in tone from the rest of the song, like the singer reached a crossroads and then freezes there, jogging in place, not sure where they're gonna go.



Well said, except there's nothing hollow and lifeless about parting ways, of the girl, etc. those are two of the 'warmest' sad songs in their catalogue



I don't know. Those songs feel pretty empty to me. I don't mean that as a knock against them, mind you. I think that's their point.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:58 pm 
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this better not be a reprise of the Ten thread where I'm the only person who does this, btw!

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 7:59 pm 
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stip wrote:
DeLima wrote:
stip wrote:
Immortality: 99 out of 100 times this is where Vitalogy ends, which makes Immortality their best closer, and is arguably their best song. When I complain about how I find Binaural to be somewhat hollow and lifeless this is what I'm comparing it to--a song that captures the same sense of desolate empty space and the lost soul wandering in it, but there's still life and warmth and humanity here that gets stripped out of so much of that record. That's what made this so special--the way Eddie was able to take such an unrelenting and bleak and personal set of songs and still manage to invite you (and only you) into that space.

I don't even know what to highlight about this song. Everything is perfect. The music has always reminded me of a darker reprise of U2's One.

Completely unexpected solo from Mike, but one of his best. I love how heavy the build gets coming out of the chorus into the final verse, and how abruptly it flattens out into something quiet and open.

There's a very compelling methodical quality to this song, like slowly investigating a wound that you fear might be fatal.

The outro is really great, but so different in tone from the rest of the song, like the singer reached a crossroads and then freezes there, jogging in place, not sure where they're gonna go.



Well said, except there's nothing hollow and lifeless about parting ways, of the girl, etc. those are two of the 'warmest' sad songs in their catalogue



I don't know. Those songs feel pretty empty to me. I don't mean that as a knock against them, mind you. I think that's their point.


nah, they feel fuller to me than immortality. all the songs in question are brilliant, but immortality is certainly more desolate. immortality and footsteps pretty much win the most desolate pj song award.


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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 8:00 pm 
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I was thinking about putting on No Code, but I just don't want to listen to it after finishing Vitalogy. That album really got creamed by having to follow vitalogy.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 8:00 pm 
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DeLima wrote:
stip wrote:
DeLima wrote:
stip wrote:
Immortality: 99 out of 100 times this is where Vitalogy ends, which makes Immortality their best closer, and is arguably their best song. When I complain about how I find Binaural to be somewhat hollow and lifeless this is what I'm comparing it to--a song that captures the same sense of desolate empty space and the lost soul wandering in it, but there's still life and warmth and humanity here that gets stripped out of so much of that record. That's what made this so special--the way Eddie was able to take such an unrelenting and bleak and personal set of songs and still manage to invite you (and only you) into that space.

I don't even know what to highlight about this song. Everything is perfect. The music has always reminded me of a darker reprise of U2's One.

Completely unexpected solo from Mike, but one of his best. I love how heavy the build gets coming out of the chorus into the final verse, and how abruptly it flattens out into something quiet and open.

There's a very compelling methodical quality to this song, like slowly investigating a wound that you fear might be fatal.

The outro is really great, but so different in tone from the rest of the song, like the singer reached a crossroads and then freezes there, jogging in place, not sure where they're gonna go.



Well said, except there's nothing hollow and lifeless about parting ways, of the girl, etc. those are two of the 'warmest' sad songs in their catalogue



I don't know. Those songs feel pretty empty to me. I don't mean that as a knock against them, mind you. I think that's their point.


nah, they feel fuller to me than immortality. all the songs in question are brilliant, but immortality is certainly more desolate. immortality and footsteps pretty much win the most desolate pj song award.


I don't mean empty musically, just so that's clear

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 Post subject: Re: Lets Actually Listen to the Album: Vitalogy
PostPosted: Mon December 23, 2013 8:02 pm 
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i actually think the best studio take (as opposed to best song) on the album is tremor christ.

and man, if they don't invite dave a. to the hall of fame induction, they're cheating everybody.


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