1994: The 40 Best Records From Mainstream Alternative's Greatest Year

Green Day, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and 35 other bands who made the word "alternative" lose all meaning

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Pearl Jam, 'Vitalogy'
Courtesy of Epic Records9/40

9. Pearl Jam, 'Vitalogy'

In 1993, no band felt bigger than Pearl Jam — not just the cover of Rolling Stone, but the cover of Time — and by 1994, they were biting the hand that feeds, bashing Ticketmaster to a House of Representatives subcommittee and writing songs about how the spotlight is a drag. Probably the most famous band to ever see fame as nuisance, Vitalogy almost plays like an attempt at commercial suicide — Neil Young in 5/4, Wipers-style punk tantrums, tape-loop slurry and one buggy detour on a thrift-store accordion. Instead it was, as Rolling Stone wrote in a four-star review, "a portrait of an artist in crisis." Christopher R. Weingarten

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