Alice In Chains – [DVD]

Friday, 19 October 2007

It’s a little chilling when you realize that there aren’t many alt-rock bands that crossed the MTV Unplugged stage that aren’t missing a member or are completely defunct now (Nirvana and Soul Asylum come to mind), but revisiting Alice In Chains’ set eleven years after the show happened is particularly gut-wrenching for those familiar with Layne Staley’s story. Unplugged was the first show that AIC had done in three years at that time and, while the performance was fantastic, it’s easy to see why in retrospect: from the moment he sits down, Staley appears as two steps from being a walking corpse and, missing (as far as the footage allows although MTV did try to shoot around it) all of his top teeth, it’s a testament to the power of his voice that such an incredible sound could come out of a mouth that barely moves.

But there is that voice. The Unplugged performance happened almost six years to the day prior to the discovery of Staley’s body and, at that point, his voice had not yet left him (that would happen soon after as anyone that heard AIC’s sets when they opened for Kiss can attest); in spite of the obvious hindrances, he delivered a career-defining show. The band too—those acoustic EPs really paid off when it came time to arrange some of these songs—Sean Kinney’s comparatively spare drumming and Mike Inez’ fluid, often melodic bass yield the perfect platform for Staley and Jerry Cantrell and handily flesh out songs for which distortion was such a key ingredient (“Sludge Factory,” “Would?” and “Got Me Wrong” particularly).

Looking back, the Unplugged show was pretty much the last gasp for Alice In Chains before Layne Staley committed himself to chasing the dragon into oblivion but, at that time, no one knew that—it was just a great, magical show. Now, it’s all the more valuable because of the events between the date the show was played and April 5, 2002 (the date that Staley’s body was found); they’d never do a show this good again and not many bands that did Unplugged after them would do anything as powerful—for Alice In Chains, Unplugged was a beautiful stitch in time.

Alice In Chains MTV Unplugged DVD & CD is out now on Legacy/Columbia.

For more on Alice In Chains, click here:

Comments are closed.