Alice in Chains: The Essential
When one considers the number of bands to come out of the Grunge-Rock era, one of the major players of the lot would be Seattle's Alice In Chains. The band led by singer Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell offered fans a darker, edgier music than the kind that would be found in groups like Pearl Jam or Nirvana. As a matter of fact the group had the closest ties to the Metal genre, and were the probably among the most Metal-based of them all. Musically the band would be a profound force while lyrically the rage and anger about life and its trials would be showcased on a number of excellent and very memorable songs. In 1990 the bands full-length debut Facelift would hit the fans of the Grunge circuit bands like a bag of quarters, as it was an album full of tight groove and expressive melodic vocals. The group would keep the music flowing by releasing periodic EP length albums such as Jar Of Flies and Sap that would be perfect for keeping the band in peoples minds until any full-length record would be ready for them to enjoy. They would also perform music for some movie soundtracks and unlike many bands who supply throwaway songs for these efforts, songs like "Would" from the hit movie Singles would be one of the groups finest tracks of all. During their career the group would appear on MTV's Unplugged and deliver a memorable concert experience that showed just how different ones material can be delivered under this scenario and made for a very worthy album of its own. While inner turmoils would eventually lead to a silent breakup and find the individual members pursuing other projects and finding some amount of success in them – the question remained would the band ever reunite and showcase the impact that made them so special in the first place. For the original members the question would find a solemn answer when Layne Staley was found dead of a heroin overdose in his home in 2002. Now in 2006, Cantrell, Inez and Kinney have reformed AIC and begun touring with a new singer. The idea is not so much to replace Staley, for his was a presence that is not easily replaced. Instead it is more a means of bringing the music to the people once again and honoring the great music that they recorded together on their albums.
The Essential Alice In Chains is a fine sampler of the bands career but in truth there is a lot more enjoyment on the full albums. This is great for the car or music device, but the listener should still look into the unplugged effort as well as Dirt for a greater scope of songs. Alice In Chains were truly one of the finest from a genre that had given us far too many unmemorable moments. Remember this one.
1. We Die Young
2. Man In The Box
3. Sea Of Sorrow
4. Love, Hate, Love
5. Am I Inside
7. Got Me Wrong
8. Right Turn
9. Rain When I Die
10. Them Bones
11. Angry Chair
12. Dam That River
14. God Smack
15. Hate To Feel
17. No Excuses
18. I Stay Away
19. What The Hell Have I – remix
20. A Little Better – remix
22. Heaven Beside You
24. Over Now
26. Get Born Again
Added: September 26th 2006
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Alice in Chains Website
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|Alice in Chains: The Essential
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-09-27 08:30:53
Overall, The Essential Alice in Chains is a good 2CD collection of the best songs from this seminal 90's band. From the dark and grungey metal that permeated their debut ("We Die Young", "Man in the Box", "Sea of Sorrow", "Love Hate Love") to the sweeter sounds of their two EP's Sap and Jar of Flies, to their classic album Dirt, to the self titled finale, there's plenty of solid Alice in Chains to dig into here. Included as well are the songs from the Last Action Hero Soundtrack, "What the Hell Have I" and "A Little Bitter", both pretty heavy tunes and reason enough to get this collection for those who already have all the AiC studio albums. Surprisingly, only three songs are included here from their 1995 self-titled release, as more space is given to tunes from Dirt and Facelift. There's a nice extended essay on the history of the band included in the booklet, as well as an assortment of photos and information on the songs. If you are new to the influential but short lived music of Alice in Chains, this is a great place to start to get a feel for all the different types of styles they encompassed. Disregard anything you hear about this band being just another Seattle grunge band. Alice in Chains were adept at many types of music, whether it be doomy metal, folk infused hard rock, and a straight ahead mix of pop with metallic elements. It all added up to a pretty groundbreaking formula which was cut short when Layne Staley passed away from a drug overdose in 2002. By all accounts the band were long finished by then, but here in 2006 a reunited Alice in Chains are once again playing live shows with a new singer, and the music lives on yet again.
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