Unplugged review by Alice in Chains

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1996
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (109 votes)
Alice in Chains: Unplugged

Sound — 9
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.

Lyrics — 10
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.

Overall Impression — 9
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.

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