Alice in Chains (album)

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Alice in Chains
Studio album by Alice in Chains
ReleasedNovember 7, 1995 (1995-11-07)
RecordedApril–August 1995 at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, Washington
GenreGrunge,[1] alternative metal, heavy metal, alternative rock
Length64:51
LabelColumbia
ProducerToby Wright, Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains chronology
Jar of Flies
(1994)
Alice in Chains
(1995)
Black Gives Way to Blue
(2009)
Singles from Alice in Chains
  1. "Grind"
    Released: 1995
  2. "Heaven Beside You"
    Released: 1996
  3. "Over Now"
    Released: 1996
  4. "Again"
    Released: 1996
 
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Alice in Chains
Studio album by Alice in Chains
ReleasedNovember 7, 1995 (1995-11-07)
RecordedApril–August 1995 at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, Washington
GenreGrunge,[1] alternative metal, heavy metal, alternative rock
Length64:51
LabelColumbia
ProducerToby Wright, Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains chronology
Jar of Flies
(1994)
Alice in Chains
(1995)
Black Gives Way to Blue
(2009)
Singles from Alice in Chains
  1. "Grind"
    Released: 1995
  2. "Heaven Beside You"
    Released: 1996
  3. "Over Now"
    Released: 1996
  4. "Again"
    Released: 1996

Alice in Chains is the eponymous third studio album by the American rock band Alice in Chains. Released on November 7, 1995, it was the follow-up to the highly successful Dirt. Similar to Dirt the album's songs focus on heavy subject matter such as depression, isolation, drug use, anger and death. The album relies less on metallic riffs and more on melody and texturally varied arrangements than the group's previous full-length albums, finally integrating some of the more delicate acoustic moods of their EPs.[2] It marks the band's last studio album to feature vocalist Layne Staley (who would die of a drug overdose in 2002), Layne's final album, and the last until Black Gives Way to Blue was released in 2009 featuring new vocalist William DuVall. The album has been certified two-times platinum by the RIAA and has sold 3 million copies worldwide.

Contents

Background and recording

After the release of Jar of Flies, vocalist Layne Staley entered rehab for heroin addiction.[3] The band had been scheduled to tour during the summer of 1994 with Metallica and Suicidal Tendencies, but while in rehearsal for the tour, Staley began using heroin again.[3] Staley's condition prompted the other band members to cancel all scheduled dates one day before the start of the tour, putting the band on hiatus.[4] While Alice in Chains was on hiatus, Staley joined the "grunge supergroup" Mad Season while guitarist Jerry Cantrell worked on material originally intended for a solo album.[3] In January 1995, Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer Sean Kinney began jamming on Cantrell's material. In the spring of 1995, Staley was invited back to join the band.[3] Staley said that "we started to split apart and went different ways, and we felt like we were betraying each other."[3]

In April 1995, Alice in Chains entered Bad Animals Studio in Seattle with producer Toby Wright, who had previously worked with Corrosion of Conformity and Slayer.[5] Few of the songs on the album had been written before the sessions began, so Cantrell's material was used as a starting point.[3] The band would then give the demo tapes to Staley so he could write lyrics.[3] The album was finished in August 1995. Cantrell said, "It was often depressing, and getting it done felt like pulling hair out, but it was the fucking coolest thing, and I'm glad to have gone through it. I will cherish the memory forever," while Staley added, "I'll cherish it forever, too, just because this one I can remember doing."[3]

During the recording of the album Staley was severely addicted to heroin and was often late or absent for recording and rehearsal sessions for the album.[6] Cantrell said "...It was a really painful session because it took so long. It was horrifying to see [Layne] in that condition. Yet, when he was cognizant, he was the sweetest, bright-eyed guy you'd ever want to meet. To be in a meeting with him and have him fall asleep in front of you was gut-wrenching."[7]

While in the studio, a rough mix of the song "Grind" was leaked to radio, and received major airplay.[8] On October 6, 1995, the band released the studio version of the song to radio via satellite uplink. The mockumentary, The Nona Tapes, features interview footage regarding the album.

This is the last Alice in Chains album to feature original vocalist Layne Staley.

Music and lyrics

Cantrell, in an interview around the release of the album, said, "Our music's kind of about taking something ugly and making it beautiful."[3] With the exceptions of "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", and "Over Now", the lyrics are all written by Staley. Staley said, "I just wrote down whatever was on my mind...so a lot of the lyrics are really loose. If you asked me to sing the lyrics to probably any one of them right now, I couldn't do it. I'm not sure what they are because they're still that fresh."[3] Staley added, "For a long time I let problems and sour relationships rule over me instead of letting the water roll off my back...I thought it was cool that I could write such dark, depressing music. But then instead of being therapeutic, it was starting to drag on and keep hurting. This time I just felt, 'Fuck it. I can write good music, and if I feel easy and I feel like laughing, I can laugh.' There's no huge, deep message in any of the songs. It was just what was going on in my head right then. We had good times, and we had bad times. We recorded a few months of being human."[3]

Of the album's four singles, "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", "Over Now", and "Again", three feature Cantrell on lead vocals. Cantrell also wrote the lyrics for the songs for which he sang lead vocals. Regarding "Grind", Cantrell said it was written at "pretty much at the height of publicity about canceled tours, heroin, amputations, everything, thus it was another 'FUCK YOU for saying something about my life' song."[3] "Heaven Beside You" was written by Cantrell after the break-up of his girlfriend of seven years.[3] He described the song as "Another attempt to reconcile the fact that my life and paths are tearing me apart from the person I love."[9] Commenting on "Over Now", Cantrell said of the song: "A lot of deep shit in there, a big epic number. Plus you can get away with a hugely long tune near the end of a record."[9]

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]
The New York Timesfavorable[10]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[11]

Although not as successful as Dirt, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified double platinum.[12] The band opted not to tour in support of Alice in Chains, adding to the rumors of drug abuse.[4][13] When asked about the frustration of not touring to support the record, Cantrell provided some insight into how Staley's addictions led to repercussive tensions within the band: "Very frustrating, but we stuck it out. We rode the good times together, and we stuck together through the hard times. We never stabbed each other in the back and spilled our guts and do that kind of bullshit that you see happen a lot."[14]

It was noted for being a break away from the externally applied grunge label affixed to the group.[10][11] Rolling Stone described the album as a "musical rebirth,"[11] and The New York Times remarked that in contrast to the raw distortions associated with grunge, Alice in Chains' sound was "cleanly delineated and meticulously layered."[10] Jon Wiederhorn of Rolling Stone called the album "liberating and enlightening, the songs achieve a startling, staggering and palpable impact."[11]

Bill Adams of Ground Control Magazine, reviewing Alice in Chains discography wrote "If indeed Jar of Flies turned out to be the gateway that got so many more people hooked on Alice in Chains, it can only be said that the band's self-titled album implies withdrawals or a sense of significant unease or discomfort. The signs that something is just not right appear everywhere both on and in Alice in Chains; the front cover features a photo of a three-legged dog (one too few) while the back cover presents a picture of a three-legged mandolinist (one too many). The album's liner notes feature images of ghastly, contorted fairies with no flesh on their arms, sinister, personified bottles swimming through black oceans, cartoons of mutant animals standing on trial, synthetic limbs and more. They are images of turmoil, disease and discomfort, and it's difficult to look at them."[7]

Alice in Chains included the singles "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", and "Again", all of which had accompanying music videos. "Grind" and "Again" were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1996 and 1997, respectively.[15][16] The music video for "Again" was nominated for Best Hard Rock Video at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.[17]

Packaging

The album is also known informally as "Tripod" due to a three-legged dog on the front cover and Frank Lentini on the back.[18] The compact disc was initially available in two versions: one with a transparent purple jewel case with a translucent yellow-green spine and the other with the color scheme reversed. The purple jewel CD case is currently out of print and the yellow-green edition is now quite hard to find. The cassette edition features a transparent purple cassette or transparent yellow-green case. It was also released on double vinyl with a purple label on the A-side and a yellow-green label on the B-side of both discs. Disc 1 featured tracks 1-6, disc 2 featured tracks 7-12 and both discs had 3 tracks per side.

Track listing

All lyrics written by Layne Staley, except where noted. 

No.TitleLyricsMusicLength
1."Grind"  Jerry CantrellCantrell4:45
2."Brush Away"   Cantrell, Mike Inez, Sean Kinney3:22
3."Sludge Factory"   Cantrell, Kinney7:12
4."Heaven Beside You"  CantrellCantrell, Inez5:27
5."Head Creeps"   Staley6:29
6."Again"   Cantrell4:05
7."Shame in You"   Cantrell, Inez, Kinney5:35
8."God Am"   Cantrell, Inez, Kinney4:08
9."So Close"   Cantrell, Kinney2:45
10."Nothin' Song"   Cantrell, Kinney5:40
11."Frogs"   Cantrell, Inez, Kinney8:18
12."Over Now" ([†])CantrellCantrell, Kinney7:03
Total length:
1:04:51

^ † Contains an excerpt of "Good Night" by Ted Lewis.

Japanese bonus tracks

All lyrics written by Staley, all music composed by Cantrell.

No.TitleLength
13."Again (Tattoo of Pain Mix)"  4:01
14."Again (Jungle Mix)" (Also known as Club Mix)4:01

Personnel

Alice in Chains
Production

Chart positions

Album

Chart (1995)Position
Australian ARIA Charts[19]5
Finnish Albums Chart[20]13
German Albums Chart[21]93
Netherlands Albums Chart[22]75
New Zealand Albums Chart[23]28
Norwegian Albums Chart[24]11
Swedish Albums Chart[25]11
UK Albums Chart[26]37
US Billboard 200[27]1

Singles

YearSinglePeak chart positions
US
[28]
US Main
[29]
US Mod
[29]
UK
[26]
1995"Grind"71823
1996"Heaven Beside You"[I]523635
"Over Now"424
"Again"836

References

  1. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Alice in Chains > Overview". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/album/alice-in-chains-r227636. Retrieved 23 July 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/alice-in-chains-mw0000646274
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Wiederhorn, Jon (1996-02-08). "To Hell and Back". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/aliceinchains/articles/story/5934699/to_hell_and_back. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  4. ^ a b Rothman, Robin (2002-04-22). "Layne Staley Found Dead". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/aliceinchains/articles/story/5934348/layne_staley_found_dead. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  5. ^ "Meldrum Working With Producer Toby Wright". Blabbermouth.net. 2006-04-26. Archived from the original on 23 January 2008. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=51361. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  6. ^ The History of: Layne Thomas Staley Guitar World.
  7. ^ a b Ground Control - Alice in Chains Discography Part 2 Adams, Bill. Ground Control Magazine.
  8. ^ "Alice in Chains timeline". Sonymusic.com. Archived from the original on 22 February 2008. http://www.legacyrecordings.com/alice-in-chains.aspx. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  9. ^ a b Liner notes, Music Bank box set. 1999.
  10. ^ a b c PARELES, JON (1995-12-03). "RECORDINGS VIEW;Alice in Chains Finds Persecutors All Around". Arts (The New York Times). http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CEFD71139F930A35751C1A963958260. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  11. ^ a b c d WIEDERHORN, JON (1995-11-30). "Alice in Chains". Album Reviews. Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/alice-in-chains-19951130. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  12. ^ "Gold and Platinum Database Search". http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?table=SEARCH_RESULTS&artist=Alice%20in%20Chains&format=ALBUM&go=Search&perPage=50. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  13. ^ Fischer, Blair R.. "Malice in Chains". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/aliceinchains/articles/story/5925470/malice_in_chains. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  14. ^ Christopher, Michael. "Degradation Trip: An Interview with Jerry Cantrell". popmatters.com. December 26, 2002.
  15. ^ "38th Grammy Awards - 1996". Rockonthenet.com. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/1996/grammys.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  16. ^ "39th Grammy Awards - 1997". Rockonthenet.com. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/1997/grammys.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  17. ^ "1996 MTV Video Music Awards". Rockonthenet.com. Archived from the original on 7 December 2007. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/1996/mtvvmas.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  18. ^ Raul (2010-10-31). "Jerry Cantrell's Dog Sunshine Was The 3 Legged Dog On Alice In Chains Album Cover". feelnumb.com. http://www.feelnumb.com/2010/10/31/jerry-cantrells-dog-sunshine-was-the-3-legged-dog-on-alice-in-chains-album-cover/. Retrieved 2012-09-26. 
  19. ^ "Discography Alice in Chains". Australian-charts.com. http://australian-charts.com/search.asp?search=Alice+in+Chains&cat=a. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  20. ^ "Discography Alice in Chains" (in Finnish). Finnishcharts.com. http://finnishcharts.com/search.asp?search=Alice+in+Chains&cat=a. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  21. ^ "Discography Alice in Chains". musicline.de. http://musicline.de/de/chartverfolgung_summary/artist/Alice+In+Chains/longplay. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  22. ^ "Discografie Alice in Chains" (in Dutch). Dutchchars.nl. http://dutchcharts.nl/search.asp?search=Alice+in+Chains&cat=a. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  23. ^ "Discography Alice in Chains". Charts.org.nz. http://charts.org.nz/search.asp?search=Alice+in+Chains&cat=a. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  24. ^ "Discography Alice in Chains" (in Norwegian). Norwegiancharts.com. http://norwegiancharts.com/search.asp?search=Alice+in+Chains&cat=a. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  25. ^ "Discography Alice in Chains" (in Swedish). Swedishcharts.com. http://swedishcharts.com/search.asp?search=Alice+in+Chains&cat=a. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  26. ^ a b Roberts, David, ed. (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). HIT Entertainment. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  27. ^ "Alice in Chains – Artist chart History"
  28. ^ "Hot 100 Airplay – Alice in Chains". Billboard charts. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/searchResult.jsp?exp=y&Ntt=Alice+in+Chains&Ntk=Keyword&an=bbcom&nor=10&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&N=37+4294122920. Retrieved 2008-05-13. [dead link]
  29. ^ a b "Artist Chart History – Alice in Chains". Billboard charts. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/retrieve_chart_history.do?model.chartFormatGroupName=Singles&model.vnuArtistId=3943&model.vnuAlbumId=454488. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
Preceded by
Dogg Food by Tha Dogg Pound
Billboard 200 number-one album
November 25 – December 1, 1995
Succeeded by
R. Kelly by R. Kelly