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Essential Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains
Essential Alice in Chains
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Metal
 
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #2


      
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CD Details

All Artists: Alice in Chains
Title: Essential Alice in Chains
Members Wishing: 7
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 9/5/2006
Album Type: Limited Edition, Original recording remastered
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Metal
Style: Alternative Metal
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
Other Editions: Best Of - The Essential Alice in Chains
UPCs: 827969209028, 0827969209028

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CD Reviews

The best Alice In Chains compilation so far.
Angry Mofo | 10/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"There are already two Alice In Chains compilations out there, and they have all of the most popular songs, but they kind of miss the most interesting thing about Alice In Chains. This band is usually classified as either grunge or metal, which is a perfectly accurate label if you only listen to their three studio albums. But they also released two short EPs that showed a much quieter and more contemplative side of their sound. These EPs contain moody, bluesy songs performed on acoustic guitars. I guess it's not really that big of a departure (didn't metal start out as just a really loud variation on the blues?) but it's also quite different from what their less subtle contemporaries were doing.

The thing is, singer Layne Staley's voice was perfectly suited to low-key introspective songs. He could yell better than most others, too, but on the softer numbers, he could sing in a very haunting, sombre drawl that many later singers have tried and failed to imitate. And that gave depth to Alice In Chains. Somehow they always seemed more serious than the other grunge bands.

The ideal Alice In Chains compilation should show that side together with the loud, rockin' singles. This compilation tries to do that, but misses the two most important songs. It contains almost all of the band's most popular album Dirt, except, inexplicably, the one softer song "Down In A Hole," which perfectly encapsulates this thoughtful side of the band and contrasts well with the loud and angry songs on the album. Then, the compilation touches on the band's second EP Jar Of Flies, but doesn't include the opening song "Rotten Apple," which has a beautiful opening build-up and a moving, world-weary vocal by Staley. Immediately, the compilation's claim to gathering the "essential" Alice in Chains goes out the window. It's a pity. The record company really could have fit both songs somewhere on two CDs.

The truly "essential" Alice In Chains consists of two albums, Dirt and Jar Of Flies. Those two albums cost less put together than this one. So, if you don't know anything about this band, it would be more logical to get those two albums instead of this compilation. And if you're a big fan of the band, then you probably already have the box set, so this compilation will contain nothing that you aren't familiar with.

But if you already own and like Dirt and Jar Of Flies, but not the other albums, then this compilation becomes surprisingly relevant. First of all, it contains the entire Sap EP (except for the bonus track, which isn't good anyway). Then, it has four songs from the band's first album Facelift, including both of the well-known singles. This should be all you need from the debut unless you're a really big fan, in which case you already own the whole album. The band's third and final album is represented by four very good songs, one in a live rendition. The rest of the album is also good, so maybe the compilation should have covered more of it at the expense of some songs from Dirt, but again, compilations aren't really made for the band's biggest fans.

Further still, the compilation contains two non-album tracks, "What The Hell Have I" and "A Little Bitter," which appeared on the Last Action Hero soundtrack. "A Little Bitter" doesn't appear on either of the previous two Alice In Chains compilations, so it's even kind of rare. There are also a couple of tracks from the Unplugged live album. They're not really essential, but if you have Dirt and Jar Of Flies, you might find them interesting.

And finally, this compilation contains both of the band's last songs, "Get Born Again" and "Died," which were recorded during a brief reunion in 1998. "Get Born Again" is included on the Nothing Safe compilation, but "Died" has previously been unavailable anywhere other than the box set. These are the most valuable inclusions on this compilation, because they're the band's best "metal" songs, featuring Layne Staley's finest performances. "Died" is not only the more obscure of the two, but the better one as well. Staley's lyrics were always really vague, but this song contains a seemingly clear allusion to events in his own life, and listening to it, maybe it's understandable that he sort of gave up.

In conclusion, this compilation doesn't replace the best Alice In Chains albums, but it does replace all of the previous compilations. If you can't or don't want to get the box set, then this is a good choice to round off your Alice In Chains collection, since it does give you a few great rarities and a whole EP in addition to the hits and album tracks. But if you really want to have all of their songs, then of course there's no point in bothering with it. Then again, if that's the case, then you own the box set, and you're not reading this review."
Stellar collection, despite missing 2 critical songs
R. Gorham | 01/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THE BAND: Layne Staley (vocals, guitar), Jerry Cantrell (guitar, vocals), Mike Inez (bass), Sean Kinney (drums & percussion).

THE DISC(S): (2006) 28 tracks on 2-discs clocking in at approximately 130 total minutes (disc-1 at 73:56 minutes, disc-2 at 55:54). Included with the discs is a 6-page foldout containing song titles/times/credits, a brief 3-page intro, band photos, and what songs came from which albums and the year released. This compilation follows the band from 1990-99. Label - Sony/Columbia.

ALBUM REPRESENTATION: Facelift (4 songs), Dirt (9), Sap (4), Jar Of Flies (2), Alice In Chains (3), Unplugged (2), Music Bank (2), "Last Action Hero" soundtrack (2).

COMMENTS: Alice In Chains (AIC) was one of my favorite bands from the 1990's. Exciting and unique, dark and brooding - extraordinary and matchless vocals, crunchy electric guitars, captivating acoustic guitars, solid bass work, effortless drumming. And perhaps most importantly - great melodies with a wide range - alternative, hard rock, grunge, metal, and even lite-rock as "Jar Of Flies" would teach us. There are several AIC 'best of' compilations out there... "Nothing Safe: The Best Of The Box" (1999), "Greatest Hits" (2001), the extensive 4-disc "Music Bank" (1999), and this "Essential". All are good, however there's a lot of repetition in the song selections. AIC had 3 full length studio albums and 3 shorter EP's... and having 4 compilations doesn't make sense to a lot of fans. For me, the "Music Bank" is good, but it's filled with too many demos, remixes and live songs. The single disc collections are great, but not nearly long enough. That brings us to this 2-disc "Essential" set. For the money, it's the best mix on the market as of 2006. THE GOOD: The staples are (almost) all here in their remastered glory - "Man In The Box", "We Die Young", "Brother", "Angry Chair", "Rooster", "Dam That River", "No Excuses", "I Stay Away", "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", "Would?", etc. Nine (should've been ten) songs from "Dirt" is warranted. Even the lesser hits are selected carefully - "Sea Of Sorrow", "Right Turn", "Them Bones", "Rain When I Die", "Nutshell", etc. The 2 tracks from the "Music Bank" only, "Get Born Again" and "Died" are great to have without having to make the hefty "Bank" purchase. The digitally remastered sound is crisp. THE NOT SO GOOD: I found only two major things wrong with this "Essential" collection. 1. - most importantly, there are 2 staples the label missed... how could they put this together and not include "Down In A Hole" and "Bleed The Freak"? To me, this is an absolute crime. I'd compare that to a company putting together a Led Zeppelin "Essential" set and not including the songs "Rock And Roll", and "Kashmir". "Down In A Hole" is easily one of AIC's most recognized songs. Other AIC tracks that I felt were deserving (but did not make the cut) - "Sludge Factory", "Shame In You", "Frogs", "Rotten Apple", and/or "Don't Follow". 2. Almost twenty-five minutes of unused space on disc-2. Adding two or three of the omitted songs (mentioned above) could have made this set superb in every aspect. Minor things wrong - no tracks were included from their "Live" disc, as well as perhaps not enough songs (only two included here) from AIC's outstanding "Unplugged" release. Fairly thin liner notes. And, couldn't they have found a better picture for the front cover? OVERALL: Any compilation I've ever listened to is not without flaws... and "The Essential Alice In Chains" is no exception. The music here is brilliant, and outside of the two significant songs (mentioned above) that were neglected, I truly feel this is their best mix of songs for the money in one package (4.5 stars).
"
A Worthwhile Compilation
Charles Crosbie | 09/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Certainly this re-mastered collection tops the previous "Greatest Hits" and "Best of the Box" offers. It's definitely worth the $20 for the album.

One has to wonder, as is obligatory with any compilation representative of an artist's entire body of work, how a few Chains standards were omitted.

The biggest omission is the absence of the beautifully crafted "Down In A Hole," but also curious is the "Rain When I Die" selection over "Junk Head" from "Dirt." Other interesting selections would be the "Sap-heavy" track inclusions while AIC's mini-masterpiece, "Jar Of Flies" seems under-represented. "Rotten Apple," "Whale and Wasp" or "Don't Follow" could have easily been included on the ostensibly shorter second CD. Also, though Layne's performance on the unplugged version of "Nutshell" is particularly poignant, the album version of that song (though never released as a single) is regarded by some as the band's single best track and could have been included in its original form.

Regardless of opinion of the song selection, this two-disc set is fairly comprehensive and undeniably worth the price of purchase."