Pearl Jam’s Albums Get Ranked Up!

It seemed inevitable that as a music site, there would be some form of album ranking series, so here we are with the debut of ‘Ranked Up!’ We decided to begin with the Alternative Nation community’s favorite band, Pearl Jam. Although many other sites and blogs may have previously attempted to sort albums in a qualitative manner, we hope that the attribution of multiple factors regarding the overall process and release of the album will create a more informative and fair ranking. Please note that this list is pure opinion (from yours truly) and you are free to disagree. We are also including Lost Dogs, the band’s B-sides collection.

Do you feel so strongly for or against this ranking? Share your opinions and personal ranking in the comment section below. Enjoy.

11. Riot Act

Release date: November 12, 2002

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Adam Kasper, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (guitar, vocals), Mike McCready (guitar), Stone Gossard (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion, rhythm guitar)

Singles: “Bu$hleaguer,” “I Am Mine,” “Save You,” “Love Boat Captain”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: Taking on a more political stance, this record has a larger focus on lyrical content than memorable musical characteristics. Even though the addition of keyboardist Boom Gaspar allowed the sonic qualities to possess a more mature and cohesive flow, both the vocal and instrumental aspects throughout are mostly dragged down by a cloud of dullness.

10. Lightning Bolt

Release date: October 11, 2013

Record label: Monkeywrench Records, Republic Records

Producer: Brenden O’Brien

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, background vocals), Matt Cameron (drums, background vocals)

Singles: “Mind Your Manners,” “Sirens,” Lightning Bolt”

Opinion: For the most part, this a risk-less release. With influences of punk and classic rock dispersed evenly across the board, there are very few eyebrow-raising worthy tracks. The modern hooks of “Infallible” show progress, but a cover of Eddie’s solo “Sleeping by Myself” uke-piece seems a bit unorthodox. I doubt the full band would ever include a tune from the other members’ projects on an official PJ album.

9. Binaural

Release date: May 16, 2000

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Tchad Blake, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, rhythm guitar, ukelele), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums)

Singles: “Nothing as It Seems,” “Light Years”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: The continuation of sharing on songwriting roles between the five musicians showcases a larger diversity of melodies. There seems to be a found balance between the anthemic ballads, acoustic mid-tempo numbers, and upbeat hard rockers. Regardless of the less successful hooks, singles, and overall impact of the record, there is still a lively energy and push for experimentation.

8. Lost Dogs


Release date: November 11, 2003

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Tchad Blake, Adam Kasper, Brendan O’Brien, Rick Parashar, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (guitar, vocals), Mike McCready (guitar, piano), Stone Gossard (guitar, vocals, bass guitar, percussion), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, guitar, vocals), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion, guitar), Jack Irons (drums, guitar, vocals, percussion), Dave Abbruzzese (drums), Dave Krusen (drums)

Singles: “Last Kiss”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: While a band’s typical b-sides and rarities compilation is usually a bit of a drag with acoustic demos and raw material, this collection of outtakes proves to be mostly enjoyable. Although never released as an official single, “Yellow Ledbetter” is undeniably important in Pearl Jam’s career and radio airplay. Unfortunately, there are many pieces on the two discs that are far less notable to make an impact.

7. Backspacer

Release date: September 20, 2009

Record label: Monkeywrench Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (guitar, vocals), Mike McCready (guitar), Stone Gossard (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion)

Singles: “The Fixer,” “Just Breathe,” “Got Some,” “Amongst the Waves”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: The polished, production-heavy sound created a mixed reception for critics and fans alike. There is a handful of forgettable tracks that are faltered by a predictable and cliche format. But in the end, this 36-minute bundle contains some of the most serene, reflective, and thought provoking compositions released by the band.

6. Yield

Release date: February 3, 1998

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, vocals), Jack Irons (drums, percussion)

Singles: “Given to Fly,” “Wishlist”

Sales: Platinum

Opinion: The Single Video Theory documentary creates a greater respect for the effort and struggles that went into the material. The album features hidden gems and soaring choruses are dispersed amongst the other non-conventional pieces.

5. Vitalogy

Release date: November 22, 1994

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar, accordian), Mike McCready (lead guitar, vocals), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, vocals), Dave Abbruzzese (drums)

Singles: “Spin the Black Circle,” “Not for You,” “Immortality”

Sales: 5x Platinum

Opinion: Easily the most odd concoctions to be garnered together and considered an album in their discography. Interludes including “Pry, To,” “Bugs,” and “Aye Davanita” may leave you scratching your head, but that is simply the beauty of it all. This release freed the band from their arena rock pigeonhole. Nonetheless, there is still an abundance of fan favorites and crowd-shakers laced across.

4. No Code

Release date: August 27, 1996

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Mike McCready (guitar, piano), Stone Gossard (guitar, vocals), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, guitar, vocals), Jack Irons (drums)

Singles: “Who You Are,” “Hail, Hail,” “Off He Goes”

Sales: Platinum

Opinion: In the same vein that Vitalogy opened new doors for the group, this record paved the way for a softer and more intimate experience. Elements of worldbeat and a larger dependence on minimalism let each riff or vocal wail truly stand out. With each progressive verse, there is an underlying catchy melody, making No Code an unforgettable mark in the PJ catalog.

3. Pearl Jam

Release date: May 2, 2006

Record label: J Records

Producer: Adam Kasper, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar), Mike McCready (guitar), Stone Gossard (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion, backing vocals)

Singles: “World Wide Suicide,” “Life Wasted,” “Gone”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: With four years since their last album, the anticipation level was high for this album. Yet the Bush administration re-sparked the band’s early angst and gave them a surge of inspiration as the energy and urgency shines through in numbers. The dynamics consistently excel as all musicians are vital cogs in the clockwork.

2. Vs.

Release date: October 19, 1993

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Dave Abbruzzese (drums)

Singles: “Go,” “Daughter,” “Animal,” “Dissident”

Sales: 7x Platinum

Opinion: Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains were already creating a concrete name for themselves in the ‘grunge’-trending music industry by 1993, but with this sophomore release, it was clear that Pearl Jam was an unstoppable force. Punks, geeks, thrashers, and the diverse collective of cliques could latch on to the various styles within this album. Vs. was not just a well-rounded musical monument, but also a guarantee of a prolific future.

1. Ten

Release date: August 27, 1991

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Rick Parashar, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Dave Krusen (drums)

Singles: “Alive,” “Even Flow,” “Jeremy,” “Oceans”

Sales: 13x Platinum

Opinion: To have not expected seeing Ten being the highest ranked LP on this list would be slightly preposterous. The group’s debut harbors some of their most well-known masterpieces. The lyrics, cohesion, song structure, and production value allow for both intimate acoustic performances and stadium-filled concerts. Every single track held flawless qualities. And overall, Ten is essential for any grunge fan, a necessity of 90’s rock lovers, and a certain classic in music history.

  • David Johnson

    Well done. I really like the opinion pieces, very convincing cases for each album.

  • JWalt

    TIL that Pearl Jam has more albums than I knew. I also remember in 1991 thinking an album like Imagine was such an old masterpiece when it was really only 20 years old at the time. Now I realized that Ten came out 24 years ago. Maybe an odd thing to compare but it’s crazy thinking of time and music like that.

  • Eddie Yarler

    It must be nice to be a die hard Pearl Jam fan. Seriously, ten albums, plus a double B-Side collection, consistent strong performances, numerous side projects, and love for every song in the whole damn discography as far as playing live. For the life of me I cannot get into an album as a whole from them. All i can do is cherry pick songs from each one. The closest ones as full albums for. me are Vs and Ten, but damn I respect them as artists.
    I look back Eddie Vedder’s self righteous political banter, and (some of) their overzealous fans and see them for what they are. The only multiplatinum 90s band not to piss their career away on drugs or egos. They are the definitive band of the 1990s and every rock band should model themselves off them.

    • Corndog

      “It must be nice to be a die hard Pearl Jam fan.”

      Well, it doesn’t suck:)

    • Mark Reed

      I don’t listen to studio at all. All live. It’s so much better. Then I don’t have to pick my favorite albums. My favorite pearl Jam album. Live at benaroyal hall.

  • Ben

    Personally I think Vitalogy deserves to be in the top 3 and Self Titled further down the list. Also, it seems a lot of PJ fans don’t like Riot Act… I really don’t get it!

    Just my 2 cents!

    • Corndog

      I would also put Vitalogy in the top 3.

      The thing to always remember about Riot Act is this – at least it’s not Binaural!

    • CraigPW1984

      Absolutely. Vitalogy is number 2 for me. I rank Riot Act number 8 but not because I don’t like it but because I think other albums are better. I think it’s a great album. Lightning Bolt’s first 5 tracks are good then the rest is a bit disappointing and Binaural is awful. I hate that I have to rank them just below Riot Act because Riot Act is much better than those albums.

  • Corndog

    Nice to see the eponymous album getting some love and respect. I always felt that album was somewhat of a return to form for them after the drudgery of the previous 2 albums (Binaural in particular; beyond a few songs i’ve never been able to get into that album).

    You’ve just got to love Come Back. At the time i thought that was the best song Pearl Jam had released for years.

    • CraigPW1984

      I know. Their self titled is underrated. I like the entire album and those first 4 or 5 tracks really rock.

  • Billy

    I like these types of lists. Here are my rankings minus Lost Dogs

    2)Riot Act
    5) Ten
    6)Lightning Bolt
    7)No Code

  • Bungle

    I don’t get the hate for Riot Act and the love for Backspacer. I love all their albums, Backspacer is the only one I find not that good. Lightning Bolt is much better. My list:

    1. VS

    2. No Code

    3. Yield

    4. Riot Act

    5. Ten

    6. Vitalogy

    7. Avocado

    8. Binaural

    9. Lightning Bolt

    10. Backspacer

  • Bill Austeh

    10 is 1

  • CraigPW1984

    Why does Ten have to be ranked number 1 on every list that ranks Pearl Jam albums? I know it was the band’s breakthrough and highest selling record but I don’t believe it is number 1. I love the album it’s in my top 5 but it seems like that’s the main reason why it’s always ranked at the top a lot of lists. For me:
    1. Vs
    2. Vitalogy
    3. Yield
    4. Ten
    5. Backspacer
    6. Pearl Jam
    7. No Code
    8. Riot Act
    9. Lightning Bolt
    10. Binaural

  • God

    1. Vs (A+)
    2. No Code (A)
    3. Yield (A)
    4. Vitalogy (A)
    5. Riot Act (B+)
    6. Avocado (B)
    7. Binaural (B)
    8. Ten (B)
    9. Lighting Bolt (B-)
    10. Backspacer (C-)

    ** Suck it to all of the Riot Act haters!!!!! Ten was the spark but it was their best album.

    • — J —

      Riot Act is a damn fine album. Much better than the last 3.

  • Ricardo

    1) Ten
    2) Vs
    3) Vitalogy
    4) No Code
    5) Binaural
    6) Yield
    7) Riot Act
    8) Backspacer
    9) Pearl Jam
    10) Lightning Bolt

  • Michael Dolce

    Binaural is the only album they let Matt Cameron be himself which is the biggest fault i have with self-titled. Vitalogy and Yield are my favorite of the bunch but I recognize why Ten is number 1. The last two records have gotten progressively worse

  • Unglued

    1. Yield
    2. No Code
    3. VS
    4. Ten
    5. Vitalogy
    6. Binaural
    7. Riot Act
    8. Pearl Jam
    9. Backspacer
    10. Lighting Bolt

    • — J —

      This is a good list.

  • John

    There is a lot of merit to the arguments in this list, but I too do not get the hate for Riot Act and love for Backspacer. Also, Lost Dogs does not count. My list:

    1) Ten
    2) Vs.
    3) Vitalogy
    4) Yield
    5) Pearl Jam
    6) Riot Act
    7) No Code
    8) Lightning Bolt
    9) Binaural
    10) Backspacer

  • Tony (UK)

    Vitology should be number 3. I would be interested to know the age of people posting there views…I could see how a younger audience would prefer later albums though…I have bands that i got into midway through their career and prefer those albums to the more higher rated (and arguably better) earlier albums, so each to there own. I’m 39.

  • — J —

    1. No Code
    2. Yield
    3. Ten
    4. Vs.
    5. Vitalogy
    6. Binaural
    7. Riot Act
    8. Backspacer
    9. Lightning Bolt
    10. Avocado
    11. Lost Dogs

  • gamedemon24

    LB gets a little too a bad rap here, just as No Code gets a little too good of one, but it’s nice to see Avocado get its due credit.

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  • RollingBeatles

    1. Ten
    2. Vs
    3. Pearl Jam
    4. Vitalogy
    5. Lightning Bolt
    6. No Code
    7. Backspacer
    8. Yield
    9. Binaural
    10. Riot Act