Monday, February 02, 2009

What I'm listening to today...Part 2

Last week was Soundgarden, today is Alice in Chains. We'll go in order of albums, and I'll update throughout the day. So the plan at the moment goes Facelift, Sap (that one's short-- only 5 songs), Dirt, Jar of Flies (also short-- only 7 songs), and their self-titled release.

If I had to name one band that I will never get to see perform that I'd love to see, I think this one tops the list. Staley's voice was (is) unapproachable; at full health, he has to be the best singer of alternative music. Jerry Cantrell is underrated in music today, both as a performer and as a song writer, though his solo work pales in comparison to AIC (just about anything would).

Facelift: Alice in Chains is remarkably consistent; "Bleed the Freak" and "We Die Young" are excellent. Cantrell might be best on "Love, Hate, Love". I'm convinced as I work my way through this album that there exists few, if any, people that could sing this album and do it even a modicum of justice. Maybe Sebastian Bach in his day.

Facelift: The second half of the album wanders a bit; most of it is good, "Confusion" is impressive.

Sap: Sap is the lighter version of Facelift; not sure if they picked up an acoustic guitar at all during Facelift. The harmonizing is a big contrast compared to Facelift, and something they won't get back to until Jar of Flies.

Dirt: Certainly their most popular album; can't really go wrong anywhere through it, though "Rain When I Die" and "Junkhead" are Layne classics. Especially "Rain When I Die" - if I'd have to pick one song where he especially belts it out, that's the one.

By the way, if you're not familiar with Alice in Chains and want to get a sense for the lyrics, check out all of the song titles I've referred to thus far-- "Confusion" is probably the most uplifting.

Jar of Flies: I mentioned in the Soundgarden post that albums, as opposed to collections of songs, weren't the strength of alternative music. This album stands apart as an album, not a grouping of songs. (Mellon Collie by the Pumpkins probably deserves consideration here, too). It's only 7 songs but an achievement not only for its aura but it's stark departure from the Alice in Chains we knew up until that point. This album very much has an OK Computer feel to it, only more blues-y, but most people don't realize that Jar of Flies came out three and a half years before it. Well ahead of it's time.

Alice in Chains: By this point, Staley's voice is a shadow of what it used to be, and the album is worse for it. Still, the Cantrell-driven album is a solid effort. "Sludge Factory" and "Again" are good up-temp songs, "Heaven Beside You" and "Over Now" are still-radio-popular acoustic efforts.

Remember, too, that Mad Season had Staley on vocals, though in his later years-- time-wise, Mad Season came after Jar of Flies.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Now I'm going to have to do that. What day are we having the all Radiohead block? All Nirvana block would be good too.