Turn It Up Tuesday!


February 22, 2011 by esarsea

Due to the absolutely underwhelming response to last week’s Turn It Up Tuesday, I decided to post something with a little more edge and attitude to it.

Alice In Chains is most commonly (and unfairly) associated with Grunge music. Although Alice in Chains is a Seattle band that rose to fame during the grunge era, their music was and is much more sophisticated than that of their counterparts Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Outstanding vocal harmonies, intricate and tremendously emotive guitar work, varying time signatures and the ability to communicate palpable, visceral emotion set Alice in Chains apart from the pack.

The following clips are all from Alice In Chains’ 1992 release Dirt, which is an absolute bone-crusher of an album. This from Wiki: “…the album was a critical success, with Steve Huey of Allmusic praising the album as a, “Major artistic statement, and the closest they ever came to recording a flat-out masterpiece”. Chris Gill of Guitar World called Dirt, “Huge and foreboding, yet eerie and intimate”, and “sublimely dark and brutally honest.”

6 of the 12 songs on the album deal with addiction. Sadly, it would be that addiction that would claim the life of lead singer Layne Staley in 2002.

Our very own Bill Lines worked with Alice in Chains during a video shoot several years ago. Perhaps he will share some of his memories here.

Turn it up!

8 thoughts on “Turn It Up Tuesday!

  1. Bill says:

    I confess to not watching all the clips because. . .I just wasn’t interested, honestly. But before that stings letme say that girlfriend constantly calls me to the computer screen when she finds yet another cute cat video online.

    I say,”But honey! There are 10,876 million cute cat vidoes online and I can’t possibly look at all of them!”

    And she wisely says,” You don’t have to look at all of them. . .just the ones I show you!”

  2. Bill says:

    Uh, things got a little screwed up here; I was talking about last Tuesday’s post not gaining much comment (or any, as you pointed out).

    Alice In Chains is another story. I have nearly all their CD’s and thought they were quite special. Still do. Had a day-long experience with them 20 years ago, but not intimate in the least. They were a grunge band and that whole scene was still new. All I could make of it at the time was that it was heavy metal guitar and a lot of personal whining about how awful and dark and scary things were. We rented studio, cameras, lights and techs for a music video shoot. All I remember is them huddling in the corner of the studio, then the director would get them to come out and huddle in the middle of the studio during shooting and playback, then they would go huddle in the corner until the next shot was ready. Knowing what I know now, I should have been trying to hang with Jerry Cantrell, their guitarist, who is very talented and bright.

  3. Bill says:

    Seriously, listen to Them Bones. Watch the video even if you have to chase it back to YouTube. These guys were doing stuff that other heavy metal acts can only wish they doing. The vocals, the lyrics, the overall feel and look that they achieved, and with a singer totally strung out on smack most of the time. He died alone in his Seattle apartment of an overdose and Cantrell said he knew as soon as Layne started holing up and acting like a hermit that it would only be a matter of time before they got “that” call. Loved the guy’s voice. It was perfect for their music, like Chris What’s-his-name in Soundgarden (Back Together!)

    • Stu says:

      I agree. I have their S/T album, along with Dirt, Facelift, Jar of Flies and the MTV Unplugged CD. I also have Jerry Cantrell’s Degradation Trip, which is very AIC-like.

      Jar of Flies is one of the most amazing recordings I have ever heard. It’s hard to imagine something being dark, disturbing and beautiful at the same time..but it very much is. Stunning record that really showcases Layne’s vocal talents and Jerry’s harmonies and guitar playing. It’s not as “heavy metal” as AIC’s other records, a sort of half-way point between their Unpugged album and their usual heavier stuff.

      • BIll says:

        Yup, JOF is a monster wall of dark sound; so funny you mentioned the beauty of the music, because you hit it! There is this surreal, etheral beauty to their lyrics and those sudden pauses, then BAM! it starts up again.

        The reason I didn’t really care for the Unplugged show/CD is the show itself contained acoustic versions of truly beautiful electric stuff like “No Waiting.” JOF has another killer called “I Stay Away.” Awesome-

  4. torqdog says:

    I never got into the AiC groove aside from those countless evenings back in the 90s under my Jeep learning to weld with the FM radio on. I kinda liked what I heard but as is usually the case with FM radio, they kept playing the same tune, over and over and over to the point where I just wasn’t interested any more.
    I might have to check them out after reading the love you both described for the Band with interesting descriptions of their music. Any suggestions as to which CD would be a good place to start?

    • esarsea says:

      I’d recommend Jar of Flies if you want to start on the mellower side and then work into them. Alternatively, the self-titled Alice In Chains is more of a straight-forward rock album. Facelift might be a good choice too, it rocks hard and has a bit more of the darkness they did so well. I’d wait on Dirt until you developed a taste for them, it can be a bit overwhelming as a starting point.

  5. Bill says:

    Here’s the caveat: For me, you have to be selective with AIC because not all their stuff is toe-tapping, headbanging music. Some is too dark and slow for me. I probably really like about 3-4 cuts per CD. And honestly, overall, I liked about a third of their music. That portion veered into places that reached me., mostly the massive, powerful riffs, like “The Rooster.” Soundtrack to a really good Frankenstein movie.

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