photo & text by nacrowe
it was either christmas or my birthday (both are around the same time) back in the mid 1990s when i first got two albums at the same time, SOUNDGARDEN's SUPERUNKNOWN (A&M, 1994) and PEARL JAM's VITALOGY (EPIC, 1993). both were huge records for me understandably. i cant remember if i got these before LIVING COLOUR's VIVID (EPIC, 1988), but essentially those three are the first records i ever got.
without doubt "TREMOR CHRIST" to date is my favorite PEARL JAM song ever. it has a haunting quality that really struck me as a child. there is a definite vibe to this record that probably comes from the odd instrumentation and experimentation with textures and song structures that separates it from the the previous two releases. obviously i didnt know this at the time. for me this record brings back memories of summers spent with friends at KNOTT'S BERRY FARM and sports camps and this sense of a future adult world and existence. of experiences yet to come. i remember listening to this record and being confounded by what was being said, especially songs like "CORDUROY," "BETTER MAN" and "NOTHING MAN," but enjoying everything on a purely melodic level. it wasnt until the onset of puberty that the record resonated on less of a visceral and more of an intellectual level.
after moving to NIGERIA my family took a trip during a school break to SPAIN, the country of my birth. we stayed with friends on the outskirts of MADRID and i have vivid memories of listening to VITALOGY as well as NIRVANA's IN UTERO (DGC, 1993) while driving through the countryside to places like SEGOVIA and AVILA. especially the longer and less traditionally structured cuts like "IMMORTALITY," "BUGS" and "AYE DAVANITA." listening to this record is always a trip back to that time in the 1990s when the world opened up and the world was different. listening to music now is different, where a listener is over-encumbered by information and historical context. i dont normally get nostalgic but for me early PEARL JAM and especially VITALOGY is a purely sentimental listening experience and a reminder of the power and grace of music.