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As I'm sure many of you know, Alice in Chains' lead singer Layne Staley has
finally given in to his drug addictions. When I first heard the news, my
thoughts drifted to various stories I had heard about Staley's drug
problems, rumors that he was recovering and that AIC was planning a reunion
tour. Now he's gone and we know that there had never been any hope for
Last night, I was surprised to find AIC's last performance, an MTV
unplugged, on MTV2 (surprised because MTV has done everything short of
denying that Layne is even dead to avoid mentioning him), this was the
second time I'd seen it, but this time, it was after I knew of Staley's
passing, and it was a completely different perspective. This was the
first appearance in 3 years, since Layne's drug problems repeatedly
tours. The performance itself was fantastic, some of the unplugged songs
put the versions on the album to shame, and Staley's vocals are, for the
most part, pretty solid. Down in Hole, Would?, No Excuses and Over Now are
all amazing. But in light of Layne's death, you can't help but watch this
performance and see how far he'd fallen, even 6 years before his death. He
looks terrible, he's rail-thin, barely concious, his eyes are blank, when
goes for high notes, you can see that he's really fighting to get there.
When the performance ends, he can barely stand up straight as he leaves the
studio. Staley went on to spend the next six years living in almost total
seclusion as he sank deeper into his drug habit, but watching this, I was
surprised he even lasted another year. This performance is simultaneously
fantastic and painful to watch. See it to remember one of the best bands
the Seattle movement, see it to remember Layne Stayley and his fantastic
Alice in Chains were one of the few bands to come out of the Seattle grunge music scene that didn't have to cater themselves to that crowd. While they had songs that rocked to a Heavy-Metal edge (Them Bones, Again, What the Hell Have I), they had a elegiac side that seemed akin to Neil Young. In this unplugged special (one of the last times the group appeared on-stage before Lane Staley's death last year) they show their softer side (Brother, Rooster, Down in a Hole), while still playing a few of the favorites (Angry Chair, Would, Got me Wrong), and giving the audience rightly what they need- good, solid musicianship, and emotional vocals from the late Staley. Die-hard Chains fans will see this as chilling as Nirvana fans see that Unplugged show, and that gives it importance all its own. But as a show in and of itself, it's worth it for any fan of rock music, hard or even folk. Listen in for the little diddies Jerry and the boys whip up in between some of the songs.
Seriously i know everyone thinks the Nirvana unplugged was the greatest of all time but Alice In Chains was. After battling through the same drug problems as Nirvana Alice In Chains sound better in fact for a band that had not played live for 2+ years it just shows you how good they were. Although singer Layne Stayley looks barely alive his voice is still magnificent but it is guitarist Jerry Cantrell that really makes the show stand out. A must see for all 90's grunge fans who want to see a band at the height of their powers
Alice in Chains. A highly overlooked and amazingly talented band lost
in the shadows of the overrated Nirvana.
This video shows a band with true emotion behind their music. The harmonzing between Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell is amazing. Every word, every chord strikes you and leaves you thirsting for more.
Kind of like a glass of hard liquor this performance starts out slow with the hauntingly beautiful "Nutshell" and as it continues the burn comes on with later performances of such songs "Would?" and "Down in a Hole"
A truly amazing performance, this is one not to be missed. 10/10
In a dim room, filled with candles and lava lamps, sings Layne Staley, his voice wavering on high notes and the climax in a song, and Jerry Cantrell, with his guitar, taking over the vocals at times, helping Layne to remember some lyrics. Layne is clearly suffering from drug addiction,showing from his weak voice and black eyelids, barely opening. On the best songs his voice is like what it used to be, deep and strong,like on 'Rooster', a tale made by Jerry Cantrell on his Vietman vet father, but that is not most. The show reveals a new song, never released on a CD, filled with melachony and endlessness. But there comes to hopeful and lighter songs, like 'No Excuses' and 'Heaven Beside You', which relieve you of the burden of such heavy songs before. When in the beginning of 'Sludge Factory' Mike Inez and the drummer play the beginning of 'Enter Sandman', the band joke around, and when the credits roll in the end, Layne shouts to the crowd, "I just want to hug you all!", they bring a small sense of hope, which is what everyone needs. Since I'm a huge AIC fan, and I enjoyed this a lot, I give this 10/10.
Out of the dozens of MTV unplugged performances there were two that stuck out in my mind as the best. The number two spot goes to Eric Clapton. An excellent show by the guitar marksman. But the number one in my opinion would be the Alice In Chains Unplugged. By far the best, this performance shows no matter how far down from the top you think you are, some of the best can come out it. Take Layne Staley for example, the period of time when he was seriously losing the battle against drugs (particulary heroin) he comes out of the dark and puts on a spectacular once in a lifetime performance. Just when you think Alice In Chains are gone and lost, April 1996 comes by. There's alot of humor in the performance as well as interactive comments with the crowd, particulary after messing up on the first take of 'Sludge Factory', an audience member yells "hey, quit f---in this up!" Even Layne's attempt at humor early in the show saying "Now we're going to break to, uh, an LL Cool Jay video, so" was kind of funny. Overall it was a great show. I have gotten the chance to see Jerry Cantrell in concert, but not with Alice In Chains. I've always wanted to though. Someday maybe. Is Alice In Chains done? Or do they have another chapter to write in their incredible history? All I know is, the 400 people in attendence to this concert sure were lucky. That's all I have to say about that.
i guess it's easy to compare this with another infamous unplugged set
that i need not name...
poor AIC never seemed to get a break from critics, but i believe they were something special... i've never been much of a fan of the metal genre but AIC seemed to tap something from it, fuse it with blues and hard rock until it became beautiful...
this performance is draining to watch... layne's physical appearance is disturbing, and the images of him during the show will resurface in my thoughts many times throughout my life...
the songs are great, the arrangements are good, and there is an amazing subtext running throughout... if you like acoustic rock with an edge, check it out...
this dvd was one of the best unplugged sets i've ever heard/watched. Ive had
this dvd now for the past five months yet i still get the urge to watch it
on a regular basis. Hell, its so good, i get the songs from AIC unplugged
stuck in my head constantly and at random moments (i was one of the last
people to finish my midterms in sociology because of it).
anyways, i just wanted to say how much this dvd rocked. i really thought it was awesome to see the more human side of AIC; complete with some commentary in between the songs as well as the "mess up" on sludge factory. The song that hit me the heaviest was "rooster", and i cannot get layne's image of deep concentration (or despair?) out of my head.
I am not liking the direction rock music is going. most of the stuff today is watered down, like pop music. Watching this video is like a breath of fresh air amid a sea of horrible bands. Layne, RIP......
Alice in chains is one of my favorite bands and they are also very underrated. It was a great performance despite Layne Staley being in very bad health. The cd is great but the home video is a whole lot better it shows how great they are live. Some of the songs sound even better from this performance than the original versions. The concert is so great i just can't stop listening to it. Whether you are a casual fan of Alice In Chains or a hardcore fan you will love this video.
This video is great. I got it on DVD and it rocks. Now I'm not that old, and love newer metal bands like KoRn, Staind and even Creed, but AIC is one of my favorite bands. The mere talent of Jerry's solos in this video makes it good enough to buy alone. The DVD even has some parts that weren't on the original broadcast, like Layne messing up the lyrics to Sludge Factory. Its hilarious cause he notices right away, its also obvious that he feels so bad about it too. They're a great band and deserve a hell of a lot more publicity, and I'm proud to own an album of one of the greatest bands ever!!! Layne, Jerry, Mike and Sean are legends. God Bless in the future guys!
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