Alice In Chains
A stopgap record issued for all of the worst reasons — corporate record company pigs trying to bleed a dying band for every bit of cash/viscera they have left in them, anyone? Appropriate then, that this collection begins with “Bleed The Freak,” a lesser-known nugget off their first record that is a goddamn welcome addition to this live portrait. At worst, this record will only whip up further unwelcome speculation into the health and sanity of Alice In Chains, at best, it’s a potent reminder of how this band could be absolutely lethal when at their best. And though they aren’t at their best live, they’re still better than any other band you’ll see on MTV right now, bar none. Jerry Cantrell’s guitar tone alone melts down all of the pretenders to their throne. And some of these live recordings are fucking early 1990s! Hey listen, there’s no new or unreleased songs, except for “Queen of the Rodeo,” which is so damn throwaway, I’m not even going to dignify it with an insult. But the rest of the record is downright inspired. The track listing is interesting, though not a total surprise. Most of the big hits are here (“Man in the Box,” “Rooster,” “Would?”), and I could go on for days with tracks I thought should have been included, but they put “Junkhead” and “Love Hate Love” on there, so I’m smilin’ in the end. It’s great, it’s like seeing an old friend again. It’s sad, it’s like seeing a picture of an old lover, what could have been. At least it wasn’t a greatest hits collection. Against all my better judgment, I’ll keep holding my breath for the new album. Hope is good.
Columbia Records, http://www.columbiarecords.com