People probably don’t remember this, but Vs. was a huge huge fucking deal when it came out. After all, once Ten had broken through in the summer of 1992, it had remained a steady high seller — the eight best-selling record of 1993 — which just whetted everyone’s appetite for the follow-up. To the point where Vs. sold more copies in its late October 1993 release week — 950,378 thank you Soundscan — than any record in history, debuting at the very top of the Billboard album charts.
I was one of those people, of course. As Ten had somewhat grown on me, and the press played up the so-called rivalry between Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I was dead curious as to how both bands would follow up their surprise successes. And in retrospect, both bands did exactly what you’d now expect them to do: Nirvana got more abrasive and punk and Pearl Jam got bigger and sleeker, Producer Brendan O’Brien clearing out the fuzz so you could hear them.