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Alice in Chains

Release Date: 12.05.00
Record label: sony / columbia
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


Is This The End?
by: paul tinelli

As Alice In Chains lead singer Layne Staley screams "I want you to kill me and dig me under , I wanna live no more" you realize Alice In Chains: Live isn't exactly the feel good holiday album of the year. Then again Alice In Chains certainly wasn't the feel good band of the decade.

Alice In Chains: Live feels like a last ditch effort by Columbia records to squeeze a few final dollars out of band that has been inactive for the past four years due to drug addiction and turmoil among band members. Although they haven't officially broken up this release definitely has a posthumous feel to it - you certainly get the feeling Columbia doesn't expect anything new from the group.

How else do you explain a recently released box set from a band with only three studio albums and a couple of EPs to their credit? But fans who remain interested in the band will certainly enjoy the 14 powerful live electric tracks provided on this album designed to show their live heavy side, not the soft live side we saw on Unplugged.

What we get on this album are renditions of songs that are pretty true to their studio counterparts, and the stark production of this album authentically represents the feeling of an Alice In Chains show from the early to mid 90's. It shows the band for exactly what they were, a quality hard rock band with a tormented lead singer that explored the deepest darkest parts of Seattle grunge.

Don't expect any Paul Stanley-esque "We Love You People" on this album from Chains front man Layne Staley. They loved to write about heroin, the women who abuse them and questioning religion. Songs like "Dirt" and "Junkhead" find the band expounding on drug abuse which is one of lead singer Staley's favorite topics.... and hobbies.

The albums strongest tracks include such rockers as "Them Bones" and "Would?" both tracks show the heart of the band , Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell, in top form. "Rooster" shows the vocal abilities of Staley and Cantrell, they sound remarkably alike. Their harmonizing is an aspect that was explored in detail on Unplugged. Staley, at his best during "Love, Hate, Love" sounds like a man that is truly in agony. It's almost painful to listen to, but it's what he did best.

It was unfortunate though that songs like "We Die Young" and "It Ain't Like That" didn't make the album. Any album that would try to truly represent the group's rocking side should have included those songs.

Listening to this album makes you realize how powerful a movement grunge was, and how long ago it was. Songs as dark as "Them Bones" and "Man In The Box" certainly wouldn't have been hits in today's era of rock rap hybrids like Limp Bizkit and sugary teen studio creations like N'Sync, but in the early 90's they were commonplace at the top of the charts.

Alice In Chains sang about and lived lives filled with darkness, drug addiction and pain and although it may have made for some powerful quality music, it eventually killed them.