Pearl Jam's year-long celebration of their 20th anniversary will kick-off on March 29th with the re-release of 1993's Vs. and 1994's Vitalogy as expanded editions. The discs will be released separately as well as part of a three-disc box set.
"When we put out the Ten box set a few years ago we had enough content to justify the cost of a box set," Pearl Jam's manager Kelly Curtis tells Rolling Stone. "We didn't have enough content this time, so we put the two albums together so there's value for the fans."
The Vs. deluxe editions will contain a remastered version of the 1993 disc, alongside a previously unreleased acoustic version of "Hold On," a cover of Victoria Williams' "Crazy Mary" (with Williams on backing vocals) and the previously unreleased outtake "Cready Stomp."
"The first two weeks we were making Vs. we were pretty cranked up and we were writing music faster than Ed could write lyrics," says Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament. "That was a pretty solid piece of music that Ed didn't get to. Mike McCready came up with the riff. It's a powerhouse song that showcases Dave Abbruzzese on drums quite a bit."
Vitalogy's new editions will include a guitar/organ mix of "Betterman," an alternate take of "Corduroy" and an unreleased demo of "Nothingman" with Richard Stuverud on drums. "After the huge success of Ten we definitely felt pressure when making the follow-ups, particularly Ed," says Ament. "We were grounded enough to know that Ten wasn't our best work. That took some of the pressure off. I don't think we were as worried about selling records as making really good music." The box set will also have a recording of Pearl Jam's April 12th, 1994 gig at Boston's Orpheum Theater – a fan favorite.
Fans willing to shell out big bucks will have the option of buying a limited edition version of the set with five LPs, four CDs, one cassette, an 80-page composition notebook and a memorabilia-filled envelope. In addition to both albums on vinyl and the 1994 Boston show, the set has a cassette of a January 8th, 1995 broadcast from Pearl Jam's Monkeywrench/Self-Pollution radio series. "That was a little pirate radio station that we set up in a van on tour," says Ament. "It was just a way to play with our friends, but we recorded all of it on 24-track so we have great versions of all the songs we did."
Finally, vinyl editions of Vs. and Vitalogy will be sold exclusively at independent record stores on April 12th, four days before Record Store Day.
The band's 20th anniversary celebration will continue with the release of Cameron Crowe's Pearl Jam documentary Twenty and an accompanying soundtrack and book in the fall. Around that time the band will play a "weekend bash" somewhere in the middle of the country. "We've been talking about doing something like this for a long time," says Ament. "We hope to have it locked down pretty soon so we can start asking our friends if they want to play a couple of shows with us. It if winds up being a two-day thing we'll probably play both days. It's in the infancy stages right now."
Plans beyond the festival are unclear. "All I know for sure is that we have most of the summer off," says Ament. "The idea was to maybe play a few shows after that."