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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Pearl Jam Albums

Your picks include ‘Yield,’ ‘No Code’ and ‘Ten’

Eddie Vedder Pearl Jam Weekend Rock

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Pearl Jam are returning from a four-year recording hiatus this October with Lightning Bolt, their 10th studio album. (Bizarrely, an actual lighting bolt caused a long rain delay at their Wrigley Field gig last week.) Many critics probably thought that Pearl Jam wouldn't make it to 10 albums. Their debut album Ten sold millions upon millions of copies; it was an impossible level to reach ever again, and Eddie Vedder seemed particularly ill-suited for mega-fame. By 1996, most of their grunge peers were either dead, hobbled by drugs or parting ways with their groups.

Against all odds, Pearl Jam continue to release great work and amass a huge cult following with marathon concerts that seem to only get better as the band ages. We asked our readers to select their 10 favorite Pearl Jam albums last week. Click through to see the results. 


Vitalogy Pearl Jam

Courtesy of Epic Records

2. ‘Vitalogy’

Vitalogy was the first Pearl Jam album with a rather difficult birth. Eddie Vedder's role in the creative process had grown significantly from their earliest days, and members of the band started to resent his role as the final decider. The band fought like crazy in the studio. Stone Gossard nearly quit, Mike McCready went to rehab for cocaine abuse and drummer Dave Abbruzzese was fired before the album even came out.

Fortunately, it's hard to discern many of these issues on the album. "Corduroy" does show Vedder's growing resentment with his role as the Generation X poster child, but "Spin the Black Circle," "Not for You," Nothingman" and many of the others sound like they could have appeared on Vs. The album was a huge seller, but it didn't reach the levels of the first two albums.  

Pearl Jam Ten

Courtesy of Epic Records

1. ‘Ten’

Unsurprisingly, this wasn't even a close poll. Ten blew everything else out of the water by a mile. Many of the band's most beloved songs, from "Jeremy" to "Even Flow" to "Alive" and "Black," are from this disc. Most of these songs were literally written within weeks of the band coming together. The band even created a demo for "Alive" before they all met face-to-face. They sent Eddie Vedder an instrumental rendition of the song, and while surfing one day, he sketched out a song inspired by actual events from his painful childhood. The band loved what they heard and they brought him into the fold.

Along with Nirvana's Nevermind (released one month afterwards), Ten ushered in the grunge revolution. It's been said about a billion times, but it did really make bands like Motley Crue and Poison seems like jokes, and Ten has sold over 10 million copies. Pearl Jam has had tons of success in the two decades since it came out, but every time they play the opening notes of "Black" or "Alive," the arena goes absolutely insane. It left a really, really big impression. They will never make another record this big. No rock band ever will.