In 1991 Nirvana released Nevermind, Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger, and Pearl Jam put out their debut, Ten. A massive album from this era of Rock music, Ten set an extremely high standard for Pearl Jam, ultimately putting massive pressure on the band to follow up strongly. Unfortunately extensive touring in ’91 would not allot the band any time to enter a recording studio to record any new material until early 1993. Would this spell a let down for their now established fanbase? Judging by history, the answer is absolutely not, because Pearl Jam would go on to dish out their most successful album, Vs.
The band’s bold follow up to Ten, Vs. hit record stores on October 19th of 1993, just 5 months after the recording sessions wrapped up. From here the band opted to not promote it all too heavily, including not putting out any music videos. An interesting move, it did not matter, because Vs. sold over 950,000 in its first 5 days on sale! Rather unbelievable, it set the record for most copies of an album sold during its first week until that point in history. From here it held the number 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart for five weeks, eventually going on to become certified 7× platinum!
All fine and good, because you would have to believe the buzz was still swirling around Pearl Jam following Ten, but was Vs. really as good as the numbers showed? That answer is a resounding yes, because some consider it to be their favorite Pearl Jam album ever released. Significantly different than Ten, Vs. was rawer, heavier, and as a result vastly more aggressive. With this the album featured 12 tracks, several which nearly everyone knows and loves, including “Go,” “Animal,” “Daughter,” and “Dissident.” Now looking back in retrospect, Vs. has stood tall through history, and believe it or not celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2023.
A milestone anniversary for the band and the album, to celebrate the anniversary, Legacy Recordings (the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment) and Pearl Jam have teamed for a series of special to vinyl and cassette format releases. Put out just before the holiday season, on November 17th through various partners, looking at the most exciting release first, Pearl Jam’s own Ten Club features an exclusive 2LP Dreamsicle (translucent orange with white swirls) color variant vinyl and clear cassette. There is also Target edition which offers its own 1LP exclusive clear vinyl, an international clear vinyl which will be available outside of the United States, plus a new black 2LP vinyl which is available at a participating retailer.
Considering all these options, looking at the 2LP set, it is important to note that it pressed to a 45 rpm speed; so be sure to remember to switch the speed on your player. That in mind, the album is obviously split onto tw0 LPs, side A-D. Perhaps something that may not seem like much to an average listener, in truth, the 45 rpm option sounds really great; much like the 25th anniversary release of Yield. To sell you further on this presentation of Vs., the separation in the mix is rather noticeable and the sound is extremely crisp.
Adding to all of these factors, Pearl Jam also released a brand new Atmos Spatial Audio Mix of Vs. on October 20th through Apple Music. Done so together with the release of new visualizer videos for each track on the album, one can only hope that perhaps this new mix of Vs. will eventually make it to some sort of physical format in the future.
So, leaving you with one last question – Is this 30th anniversary release of Vs. worth it? This decision is inevitably up to the individual, but most would agree that it is certainly worth it. And this would go for any of the packages that are being offered at this time. A perfect gift for a Pearl Jam fan, or yourself to spin at home and enjoy, Cryptic Rock gives the 30th anniversary Special Edition Vinyl of Vs. 4.5 out of 5 stars.