Loaded with 28 tracks of the kind of rock that helped Alice in Chains define the 90’s music scene, ‘The Essential Alice in Chains’ (a two-disc CD) is a must have for fans of the band or anyone who enjoys guitar driven rock filled with attitude, rebellion, and powerful lyrics.
Alice in Chains helped define the “grunge rock” movement in the 90’s and (with other bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana) changed the look and sound of rock forever. The group featured a more “heavy metal” sound mixed with lyrics that reflected on some of the darker sides of life.
Although it is the third “best of” Alice in Chains album, ‘The Essential Alice in Chains’ can boast it is the first real comprehensive collection ever issued by the band. The two-disc CD gathers its tracks from all of Alice in Chains’ studio albums (including 1990’s ‘Facelift,’ 1992’s ‘Dirt,’ and 1995’s self-titled ‘Alice In Chains’), the band’s acoustic “MTV Unplugged” appearance, and the two EPs – 1992’s ‘SAP’ and 1994’s ‘Jar Of Flies.’
Disc One of the album kicks off with the guitar-driven “We Die Young,” and follows the track up with “Man in the Box” – the single that helped introduce the band to the world at the beginning of the “grunge rock” movement. Other popular tracks on Disc One include “Got Me Wrong,” “Them Bones,” “Angry Chair,” “Dirt,” and “God Smack.” The disc ends with the band’s monster hit “Rooster” – probably one of their best songs.
Disc Two starts off a little softer with “No Excuses,” and includes hits like “I Stay Away,” and “Heaven Beside You.” The disc also includes remix versions of “What the Hell Have I,” and “A Little Bitter.” There are also two songs (“Over Now” and “Nutshell”) from the acoustic performance. The Disc ends perfectly with the single “Would?” – one of my personal favorite Alice in Chains songs.
As a bonus for Alice in Chains fans, the CD also includes a comprehensive liner notes essay by Steffan Chirazi, who wrote the liner notes for Music Bank. Chirazi is author of “Faith No More: The Real Story” (Viking Penguin, 1994), and editor of the Metallica fansite chronicle “So What!: The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly” (Broadway Books, 2004).
If you are a fan of Alice in Chains or of real rock, then you will want to pick up this album. Some fans may have other “best of” collections from the group, but the total two-disc package and song selection make ‘The Essential Alice in Chains’ worth buying. I would highly recommend the album. Each of the two discs are loaded with what made the band great, and it will not disappoint.