Jar of Flies

Alice in Chains

1993: Columbia CK 57628

  1. Rotten Apple
  2. Nutshell
  3. I Stay Away
  4. No Excuses
  5. Whale & Wasp
  6. Don’t Follow
  7. Swing on This

Alice in Chains were one of the only “grunge” groups I could ever take seriously, and in fact I find it’s hard to be flip about them.

When (after finally buying a copy) I got around to listening to the reasons I got this album—“I Stay Away” and “No Excuses”—I was even more convinced than before that I should’ve bought it…with the same uneasy reactive feeling that I have to The Doors.

I resisted (for many years) adding any Doors stuff to my collection because although it is elemental as an influence it’s a little too evocative for general listening. I hear Doors tracks and my life slides into a pit of nihilist passivity. It’s good stuff for listening to and reinforcing a sense that all is futile, that there’s nothing worth living for. To me. So I’d avoided having any on hand until the mid-2000s.

And that was also my take on Alice in Chains. Unlike ALL other Seattle bands of the “grunge” phase, this is one from which I’ve heard true musical/lyrical brilliance, albeit in unexpected ways. Not a bad thing. And years ago I worked with someone (a delightfully unassuming subsuburban lady, nothing at all like what you’d associate with AIC) who knew the band and helped me in turn to have a decent perspective on them and their work. As with Perry Farrell and Jane’s Addiction, frankly I don’t care if drugs were a necessary element to Layne Staley’s sound as long as he could produce it.

Layne died shortly after I bought this album, and I thought that was kind of sad and yet kind of surprising, as Perry Farrell was still alive. Then again, I heard Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” the other day at a smoky diner here in Seattle and thought two things: 1. “Yeah…now that’s how this song sounds best,” and 2. “I had totally forgotten this song existed after Alice In Chains got rooted in my audial consciousness and booted it out.”