Sound — 9
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.
Lyrics — 9
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.
Overall Impression — 9
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.