Unplugged Review

artist: alice in chains date: 06/11/2013 category: compact discs
alice in chains: Unplugged
Released: Jul 1996
Genre: Alternative Rock, Grunge, Acoustic
Label: Columbia
Number Of Tracks: 13
The acoustic arrangements of the harder songs sound like novelties, and the rest sound like rehashes of their previous work, only without much energy.
 Sound: 9.3
 Lyrics: 9.7
 Overall Impression: 9.6
 Overall rating:
 9.4 
 Reviewer rating:
 9.5 
 Users rating:
 9.3 
 Votes:
 108 
reviews (10) 55 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9.3
Unplugged Reviewed by: DownInAHole., on august 03, 2006
3 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: This is undoubtedly the best unplugged album released by any band to date. Yep, that means it beats out Kiss, Nirvana, The Cure, Rod Stewart, etc. This is a brilliant showcase of the bands true talent. They sang a few songs in a different key and made new solos making that much better. I loved this album so much that I bought the DVD and the tab book too. // 9

Lyrics: As always Layne's vocals were amazing and Jerry's were pretty good too. Layne is probably one of the best singers from the 90s era of music, and Jerry Cantrell and Scott Olsson guitar work was shear genius. This recording inspired me to pick up a guitar and start playing. // 9

Overall Impression: Nothing compares to this album its truly one of a kind. I bought two copies, one for my car, and one for my house because it's that good. The centerpeice of this album would have to be "Rooster" because it got the most applause and you can tell they worked on that particular song more than others. If I ever lost it I would have to buy it again because it's a good one to have in the CD collection. // 10

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overall: 10
Unplugged Reviewed by: kurtshapedbox, on august 01, 2005
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: This is possibly the best work Alice has released to date. The bands sound is very melodic, haunting, and can be very depressing on times. Especially on track such as "Nutshell" and "Frogs." Guitar work is impresive along with very coll and interesting bass tracks that stray from the typical "play the exact same thing as the guitar riff" approach and go through some interesting bass work. And of course layne and Jerry singing in harmony was at an all time high at that point. // 10

Lyrics: The songs played in this set catalog some of the best lyricism done by the band. Some very dark stuff in songs like "Sludge Factory" and impressive but slightly melancholic love songs such as "No Excuses." It never fails to impress me, and the lyrics never go stale. // 10

Overall Impression: Out of the hundreds of albums I own this one is a very big standout. Songs like "No Excuses," "Nutshell," "Brother," and "Killer Is Me" are the stand out tracks on this album. My personal favorite is Nutshell. It's a great album to play along with. Everyone I've ever played this album for has loved it. I even got my parents to like this one. If this was lost or stolen I would die before I made it to the store to get a new one because I couldn't live without it. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Unplugged Reviewed by: gabipe15, on november 22, 2012
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album is sooooo sad, it's great don't get me wrong, it's amazing, fantastic, but sad. You can feel Layne Staley with nearly broken voice, and if you saw it on DVD you can notice that too. The acoustic chords are still heard dark, clean but dark chords. Songs like "Down In A Hole" just shine on this album, the song sounds like if you're actually in a hole, in the bottom of it, "Bury me softly..." just gets it right with the melody. Awesome album, incredible sound, and just anouncing what sadly would become the end of this band, RIP Layne Staley. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics are sad. Great phrases I love some of Alice In Chains'. To name a few "And yet I fight this battle all alone", "I know that pain so don't you run away like you used to do", "I don't mind yeahhhh", "Let things be" - just sad phrases, Layne expressed them all the time, you can sense what he says as he sings, he was in pain, and you notice it. The music floats around his voice in this album, I think the album is what it is because of its lyrics especially with the way Layne expresses them. I can't help repeating this, but it's so sad. // 10

Overall Impression: I don't see which album can compare to this one, obviously reminds me of Cobain's ending, but not musically, I think they were extremely different, and also the Nirvana "Unplugged" has a different feeling, I think Cobain enjoyed performing, it was the rest of him who he hated. Staley seems to suffer as Kurt did, but specially live, when he sings you feel it. "Nutshell", "Brother", "Down In A Hole", "Rooster" and "Killer Is Me" are the highlights. I love the album, every piece of it, its a masterpiece that wasn't meant to be, I think it became what it is spontaneously, just because of Laney's performance, you could think of it. But I love it. Just hate what Laney was becoming by this time, but what could I say. I would definitely have this CD forever in my list. // 10

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overall: 10
Unplugged Reviewed by: TheSounder19200, on january 04, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well to start, Alice In Chains Unplugged is definitely the best unplugged I have ever heard and may well be the best album I have ever owned or listened to. From Nutshell to Killer Is Me Unplugged melodically glides from beginning to end, entrancing the listener and exposing them to the delicate unplugged atmosphere while still holding the raw, grunge sound that is still Alice in Chains. And while some of the songs have been altered slightly, they still provide the audience with same gripping sounds from Layne's (and Jerry's) vocals and Jerry and Scott's masterful guitar playing. Songs like Rooster and Would? still rock the house with just as much conviction, but my personal favorite is without a doubt Down In A Hole. I was never really into the original version, but I was blown away by how amazing it sounded unplugged. // 10

Lyrics: I have always been impressed by Alice In Chains' lyrics and music-style and they continue to impress me through their ability to wield the unplugged sound with excellence. Layne's and Jerry's vocal skills really shined through the performance, delivering them as good as ever, especially in Rooster and Heaven Beside You. // 10

Overall Impression: Alice In Chains Unplugged shouldn't be compared to their other cds as it is in essence a greatest hits album, but I do favor Unplugged over all the others simply because it is presented masterfully. Every note well sounded, every riff played with amazing precision, and the stab at Metallica was priceless. If this CD ever breaks, is stolen, or lost I would replace it as soon as I possible could. In addition, I would recommend purchasing the DVD as it is worth every penny. // 10

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overall: 10
Unplugged Reviewed by: JLM, on january 04, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Perfect. The sound of this album gets 99/100 only because of some vocal leaks, for example in Down in a Hole, where Layne misses some parts. Unfortunately that is due to the drug use. But, returning to the point, the vocals are clearly the best instrument in that orchestra: Layne overcame himself that night in all, and I mean all songs. The guitars were very good too, but it doesn't surprise me. The bronze medal goes to Mike. The bass work is actually brilliant. The silver medal belongs to Sean Kinney, who also had an amazing performance. // 10

Lyrics: Not much to say. Layne knew how to join his fantastic lyrics with the emotion of his voice, and his partnership with Cantrell worked beautifully. Despite Layne did a couple of mistakes during the show, he managed to get some times a depressing, yet fantastic, emotive, excellent, melodic vocal performance. // 10

Overall Impression: This is the best unplugged album I know, no doubt about it. And I love unplugged albums because there is a certain intimacy from the band to the audience and it creates a unique environment that makes you live intensively that moment. That's why I think unplugged shows should only be seen in special occasions. And this show was, in fact, a very special occasion. // 10

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overall: 10
Unplugged Reviewed by: Austiman, on december 27, 2007
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: This is about my favorite band of all time. The sound is phenominal for the regular studio versions, and as a fan of acoustic music over regular electric, you can imagine how much I love this album. The sound is simply amazing, with a soft Nutshell, to a loud and incredibly powerful Would?, this album has it all. Every song has it's own new feel to it everytime you hear it. Simply amazing. // 10

Lyrics: Layne Staley is one of the greatest singers of the grunge movement in the '90s. No, screw that, he was. Rooster tells a story of war, Would? about the feelings Jerry Cantrell felt about Andrew Wood and his passing from a heroin overdose, and No Excuses about Staley's own heroin abuse. Each one powerful with an incredible message. // 10

Overall Impression: This is without a doubt the best unplugged performance that you can hear. Nirvana is close, along with Clapton. But this surpasses it all. Simply put, it's incredible. If I somehow lost this album I would definately buy it again, or just burn it off of my hard drive. Either way, if I lost it and had to get another copy to hear it again, I would gladly hand over the cash and get it. // 10

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overall: 9
Unplugged Reviewed by: TJM2482, on february 14, 2008
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: The sound of Alice in Chains Unplugged is basically what its title is: Alice In Chains, but acoustic. You'll still hear the same downtuned riffs and bass work from the studio albums, but now it's on acoustic guitars. This was recorded near the end of singer Layne Staley's life, when he was deep into drug addiction. You can hear the pain and strain in his voice, which for most fans is pretty moving. His voice doesn't sound bad per se, it just sounds different due to his addiction. It's not as clear or powerful, but it actually mixes well with the acoustic soundscape. Unlike a lot of Unplugged albums, Alice in Chains brought with them not only their softer songs, but the band also brings a couple heavier songs. For example, an acoustic version of the song "Would?" is on the album. It's a mix of both popular hits and lesser known favorites, but overall it sounds pretty damn good if you recognize Layne's condition. // 9

Lyrics: I'm not going to lie, Layne sounds like he's struggling throughout some of the songs. However, I can't stress enough how powerful this performance is, seeing a barely-living drug addict hit the stage for one of his last memorable sets. He still has that "Layne" style, but since the release of the original studio albums his voice had gotten a little weaker and more grainy, but it sounds pretty good considering it's the same style as on the records. Layne's lyrics are pretty damn good, a mix of anger and despair. It goes really well over the down-tuned riffs he's singing over. Once again, you'll absolutely love it, or you'll think he sounds like a weak singer past his prime. I for one love it. // 9

Overall Impression: I can't really compare this to the studio albums, after all this is a live set consisting of a combination of well-known hits and lesser known fan favorites. I think "Rooster" and "Would?" are my favorite tracks off of the record. I love the whole idea of AiC unplugged, and the powerful performance of Layne Staley. There's not much to dislike, but I feel that they took a little too long to get this going, instead of doing it back in Layne's prime. If I lost it, I'd probably pick it up again, or at least buy a couple of the tracks off iTunes or something. I recommend this album to any loyal AIC fan, as well as those looking to expand their grunge collection. // 9

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overall: 9
Unplugged Reviewed by: Busproof, on november 03, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The transition from heavy drop D grunge to acoustic floats extremely well. Vocally and on an instrumental level, the songs bear a sense of sadness to them that is more apparent with the transition from electric to acoustic. Recorded for MTV: Unplugged, many fan favorites are included, such as Angry Chair and Would?, as well as most of the band's greatest hits, minus Man in A Box and Them Bones. // 9

Lyrics: Lyrically, this is Alice is Chains, which in itself should be enough to describe the quality of the lyrics. Vocally, Layne Staley is a mastermind. Sadly, due to his drug use, he does mess up during his singing duties on Sludge Factory - an incident that serves of a sad reminder of his struggle with drugs. While amazing, I find the vocal work pretty depressing, mainly because of knowing about Layne's condition, as well as the mood set by the acoustics. // 9

Overall Impression: As far as comparing it to other artists, I can't really think of a way to compare Alice in Chains, especially acoustically, to other groups. The introductory song Nutshell, as well as Angry Chair, being the acoustic rendition, both stand out to me. I love the album's vibe as a whole, it carries with it's brilliance a sense of melancholy that I think everyone could relate to in some way or another. Alice in Chains fans should check it out as well as non-fans alike. However, those looking for something upbeat and heavy, this isn't the place for you. Still, it's a album I suggest everyone check out. // 9

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overall: 9.3
Unplugged Reviewed by: BlackDog55, on may 18, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: This Album is definatley the greatest Unplugged performance. It has a very sad, depressed feeling at times. But Is picked up in songs like "Got Me Wrong" and "No Excuses". The guitar work on the record is great. But one of the things I love about this record is the bass. Especially on Nutshell. I bought the CD and DVD because it is so awesome. I was a little disappointed that they cut out Layne messing up Sludge Factory but no big deal. // 9

Lyrics: The Lyrics as always with Alice In Chains were full of a heroin-induced depression. "Brother", "Angry Chair", "Nutshell" and "Down in a Hole" are the best representatives of this. The song "Rooster" written by Jerry about his father's experience in Vietnam is moving. I love the Dirt version but love the acoustic even more. // 10

Overall Impression: I feel like this performance changed my life. I listen to songs from it on a daily basis. I love the DVD because you can see the feeling in the songs. But I do feel bad because Layne looks very weak in the DVD and struggles on some songs. Including "Sludge Factory" where he stopped the song for forgetting the words. But overall The show was great. I love Mike Inez's bass where it says "Friends don't let friends get Friends haircuts... " which was a stab at Metallica for cutting their hair. // 9

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overall: 9.3
Unplugged Reviewed by: Hammer-On-22, on june 11, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: If you ever hear somebody say that Alice In Chains is a grunge/metal band that couldn't tone it down and play softly, bake this record into a pie and shove it in their face. While that may be an awkward way to make a point, it is clear that this album emphasizes the soft, warm, mellow side of Alice In Chains. The amount of reverb (since it is a live performance) goes perfectly with the familiar Alice In Chains acoustic guitar sound and the amazingly paired harmonies of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell. The way they perform hits such as "Rooster" and "Down in a Hole" give a new soft definition to the songs, while a heaping pile of ominous beauty sneaks its way into songs of of their 1995 self-tiled LP that had probably never been performed before (it was their first concert in three years), such as "Frogs." One more thing I would like to note is the amazing tone of Mike Inez's bass on this. How does he get that?!? I must find out. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics are, of course, from Alice In Chains' previous albums. They amount of emotion poured into these lyrics in combination with the singing is just extraordinary. Most of the lyrics deal with the pain singer Layne Staley has gone through, and do not lack depth in any sense. Staley has one of the best, most natural singing voices out there, and despite dealing with many drug problems at his time, puts on one of his best showcasings of this talent that I have ever seen. The fact that Jerry Cantrell provides harmonies on nearly every song makes it even more special. // 10

Overall Impression: In relation to other "Unplugged" performances, this is definitely one of the best (maybe second to Nirvana's). Many people would never expect such a soft, soothing, emotional performance by an Alternative metal/grunge band, and that's part of what makes it so great. I would say that "Rooster," "Down in a Hole," and "Nutshell" are tracks that are really well performed on this record, and have a new meaning given to them because of that. The only criticism (if you want to call it that) is that I really wish they had done "Don't Follow," a beautiful blues rock song off of "Jar of Flies." I would definitely get this again if it were lost or stolen. In fact, I'd want to travel back in times and encourage more people to buy this record just so they could see how good Alice In Chains are. A great album by a terribly underrated band. // 9

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