On this day in music history: December 6, 1994 – “Vitalogy”, the third album by Pearl Jam is released. Produced by Brendan O’Brien and Pearl Jam, it is recorded at Bad Animals Studios in Seattle, WA, Southern Tracks Recording, Doppler Studios in Atlanta, GA and Kingsway Studios in New Orleans, LA from November 1993 – October 1994. The band begin writing songs their next album, during the tour for their previous release “Vs.”. Still coming to terms with their huge success, the members of Pearl Jam are fraught with tension. Exhausted from nearly three years of non stop activity, they are also frustrated by the corporate appropriation of the grunge music movement they’ve helped to lead. In response, they make a hard shift away from the sound of their first two multi-platinum selling albums. Lead singer Eddie Vedder takes on a much more assertive role, as well as playing guitar. Vedder also clashes with drummer Dave Abbruzzese, feeling he’s gone too far in embracing the “rock star lifestyle”. The singer speaks to him only minimally. Meanwhile, guitarist Mike McCready struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, eventually entering rehab to address his problems. The original working title for the album is “Life” which is changed to “Vitalogy” (meaning “the study of life”), which is the name of an early twentieth century medical book, of which lead singer Eddie Vedder owns a copy. Text and illustrations from the book are included in the booklet that comes packaged with the album. In an unconventional move, “Vitalogy” is released on vinyl two weeks ahead of the CD and cassette configurations, selling enough copies (35,000 units) for it to actually enter the chart at #55. It drops to #173 in its second week, but leaps to the top of the chart on December 24, 1994, two weeks after the CD and cassette versions are released, selling 877,000 copies that week. It spins off three singles including “Spin The Black Circle” (#18 Pop) and “Better Man” (#13 Pop). Pearl Jam wins the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for “Spin” in 1996. Like the album itself, all three singles are pressed as vinyl 45’s with accompanying picture sleeves. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2011 with three additional bonus tracks, with an exclusive limited edition sold through retailer Best Buy, including a T-shirt. The same year, the vinyl LP is reissued, pressing it as a 180 gram two LP set for better sound quality over the original 1994 release, which was issued as a single LP. The single “Immortality” b/w “Rearviewmirror” is reissued as limited edition 7" replicating the original label and picture sleeve artwork, is released on Record Store Day in 2011 to promote the reissues of the album. “Vitalogy” spends one week at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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