Layne Staley

Alternate Version: Alice In Chains- Nutshell (Unplugged)

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There are certain songs in a bands catalog that no matter how many times you’ve heard it, you always get that same feeling wafting over you. That happens to me every time I hear the MTV Unplugged version of Alice In Chains “Nutshell.” This version is quite astounding. Opening the show with this song too was something special. It’s truly one of those magical music moments that will give you chills. “Nutshell” is in my top 5 favorite Alice In Chains songs of all time and this version just might eclipse the studio version for me.

 
Alice In Chains- Nutshell (MTV Unplugged):

 

Title Tracks: Alice In Chains

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I have a bunch of new topics coming up shortly and this is one that will definitely be fun. Over the years I’ve really noticed something about bands naming albums after certain songs. Those songs in particular always seem to sum up the album as a whole in a way. One band that I noticed that has a real knack for this is Alice In Chains. The title track songs from their albums always had something more to them. So with that in mind, lets take a listen to these gems.

 

Alice In Chains- Dirt (from Dirt):

 

 

Alice In Chains- Black Gives Way To Blue (from Black Gives Way To Blue):

 

 
Alice In Chains- The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (from The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here):

 

 
Alice In Chains- Rainer Fog (from Rainer Fog):

 

Live Review: Alice In Chains at The Palladium

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How do you put into words a feeling that comes over you when you see a band that is truly amazing? Not to mention still being speechless about what you saw. Last night at The Palladium in Hollywood, Alice In Chains came though town like a tornado and left the town in shambles after their magical performance. I’ve now had the pleasure of seeing this incarnation of the band seven times, and each time only gets better than the last. Alice In Chains are not only living legends but they are also the epitome of what a truly great rock band is all about.

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As the lights dimmed down and Sean, Mike, William and Jerry took the stage, you could already sense that this was going to be a night of epic proportions. Starting the night off with “Check My Brain” was a perfect choice to get things going. Then the quick follow up with “Again” just about set the audience off into a frenzy. Next up was the new single “Never Fade” from their most awesome new album Rainer Fog. This song was absolutely stellar live. It’s going to be one of those that will be in their live set for the rest of their career. All the classic songs like “Them Bones,” “Dam That River,” We Die Young,” “No Excuses,” and “It Ain’t Like That” were top notch. Certain ones though like “Down In A Hole” and “Nutshell” were seriously spine tingling. I still have chills just thinking about how amazing those songs sounded. William DuVall is a gem. He really brings the songs to life in his own way without tarnishing the legacy of Layne Staley. William absolutely inhabits the older songs with such precision it’s beautiful. Through the rest of the night songs like “Red Giant,” “So Far Under” from Rainer Fog were played along with “Man In The Box,” “Stone,” and “Hollow.” Their encore even was outstanding. Coming out with “The One You Know” and moving into “Got Me Wrong,” holy wow! Ending the evening was “Would” and “Rooster” which featured a special guest, Robby Krieger of The Doors. Just thinking of the moment when Jerry announced Robby was joining them on stage, is going to be one of those oh shit moments in my concert going history.

IMG_4625.JPGPlaying before Alice In Chains was The Pink Slips. This band is a really solid rock n roll band. Led by singer Grace McKagan’s (she’s also the daughter of Duff McKagan of GnR), sass and attitude along with killer pipes made her bands blend of punk, new wave, and rock the perfect band to play before Alice In Chains. This five piece really delievered a great performance. They are definitely one of those bands that when you see live, you “get it.” They’ve got all the makings of a great rock band for the future. The riffs, rhythms, and prowess all blended together to make something really cool. I personally look forward to seeing The Pink Slips again and to watch them continue to kick ass.

What a wonderful evening. I couldn’t have asked for better. Alice In Chains is a powerhouse. William DuVall was not only the right choice to carry on the legacy of the band but, he adds so much to the band. I swear, there are moments when he’s singing the classics, that Layne’s spirit is inside of William. Especially during “Nutshell” and “Down In A Hole.” Holy shit… I can’t explain how amazing William sounds on those songs. Alice In Chains’ legacy is intact for generations to come. Their albums with Layne will always be classics and the new albums with William stand out on their own. I urge you to go see Alice In Chains. Not only will you have a brilliant time but, if you are a doubter about this new incarnation, your mind will not only be changed but, you’ll be blown away.

Alice In Chains Set List:

01) Check My Brain
02) Again
03) Never Fade
04) Them Bones
05) Dam That River
06) Hollow
07) Down In A Hole
08) No Excuses
09) Stone
10) We Die Young
11) Red Giant
12) Nutshell
13) It Ain’t Like That
14) So Far Under
15) Man In The Box

Encore:

16) The One You Know
17) Got Me Wrong
18) Would?
19) Rooster (with Robby Krieger of The Doors)

Songs From Albums:

Facelift= 2
SAP= 1
Dirt= 5
Jar Of Flies= 2
Alice In Chains= 1
Black Gives Way To Blue= 1
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here= 2
Rainer Fog= 4

Review By: Brian Lacy

Photos By: Alisa Lacy

Album Review: Alice In Chains- Rainer Fog

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One of the albums I’ve looked forward to most coming out this year was the new Alice In Chains album. Since the band released the single “The One You Know,” I’ve been all sorts of giddy about this album. As the band put out two more singles, “So Far Under” and “Never Fade,” my excitement only grew stronger. So, when Rainer Fog was finally released, it instantly hit a note with me. Not just because Alice In Chains is in my top two favorite bands of all time but, because this album is truly astonishing. Now three albums into their Mark II version of the band, Alice In Chains shows no signs of letting their fans down or losing their knack for making great music.

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Side Project Spotlight: Mad Season

 

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In celebration of what would have been Layne Staley’s 51st birthday, let’s take a closer look at the side project Mad Season. I’m sure most of you out there know about this band by now, but for those that don’t here’s a quick history lesson. Mad Season was formed originally by Pearl Jam guitarist, Mike McCready and bassist, John Baker Saunders. The two had met in a rehab facility and returned to Seattle after their stint there. Not long after the move back, Mike and John recruited Screaming Trees drummer, Barrett Martin, to join them. After only a couple of jams together, they had written the instrumentals for what would become “Wake Up,” and “River of Deceit.” Needing a singer, Mike sought out Layne Staley to front the group. It was Mike’s hope that surrounding himself with sober musicians might also help Layne to get sober as well.

The album they made together, Above, is one of the most haunting, beautiful pieces of work to come out from that era. It’s right up there with how sentimental and profound as Temple of the Dog’s album is. The band originally called themselves The Gacy Bunch, but later changed the name to Mad Season, which is an English term for the time of year that psilocybin mushrooms are in full bloom. The albums music was recorded in about seven days, while the vocals took only a few more days to complete. Before the band went into record the album, while they were still writing, Mike McCready had told Layne that he could do what he wanted with this and write all the lyrics. And so, he did, and it marked a profound moment for Layne, not just as a writer but set him on a spiritual path through music.

The ten songs on the album stretch across genres, such as rock, blues, jazz, and some tribal elements. Some critics thought that Mad Season was just as though Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam had a baby, but the fans, the people that really mattered, saw this album as a gem. Every song on the album had a deep meaning and musically pushed those feeling and emotions. When you have an album with songs like “Wake Up,” “River of Deceit,” “I’m Above,” “Lifeless Dead,” “X-Ray Mind,” “November Hotel” “All Alone,” and “Long Gone Day,” it’s pretty hard to not be astonished by the magnitude Layne, Mike, John and Barrett created. Something else that is worth noting is the inclusion of Screaming Trees singer, Mark Lanegan, on the songs “I’m Above” and “Long Gone Day.” His contributions on those two songs add an extra level of chills to the already spine-tingling album.

In 2012, there was a re-release of the album which featured four unreleased songs. These songs were from the bands unfinished second album. The songs were musically done, so Mike and Barrett asked Mark Lanegan to write lyrics and sing on these tracks. Also included in the re-release was a DVD of the bands show at The Moore theater as well as the bands 1994 New Year’s Eve show at the now defunct club RKCNDY. These performances of Mad Season will leave you with the hairs on your arms and back standing up.

Mad Season was a band that was meant to be. Their album, Above, is beyond tremendous. Mad Season wasn’t just a side project, it was a band that really allowed Mike McCready and Layne Staley to show what they could really do. Not to take away from their contributions to Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains, this band just really allowed these two to be free to fully express themselves in a different capacity. Mike McCready is seriously one of the most underrated guitar players ever. His playing and songwriting on Above proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Layne’s vocals and lyrics are absolutely on another level. The lyrics go deeper than his previous work in Alice In Chains. Here he gets a bit more introspective and finds a balance of what he dreams of and what is reality. Barrett Martin continued to prove how talented of a player he is on this album. And John Baker Saunders added a level of subtle cool to these songs, that only he could.

Mad Season still lives on just as the memories of Layne Staley and John Baker Saunders. I like to think of Mad Season as more than just a side project, but more of a band that gave new life to everyone involved in this. All you have to do is listen and let it all sink in and you’ll fall in love with this masterpiece.

 

Mad Season- Above:

 

Mad Season- Live At The Moore:

Memorable TV Performances: Alice In Chains on Letterman

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Back in 1996 on the heels of Alice In Chains doing MTV’s Unplugged, they were asked to perform on the Late Show with David Letterman. Their performance this evening was one of those spine tingling ones. Performing the songs “Again” and “We Die Young” in a bit of a medley, you could tell that David Letterman was very impressed with not only the band but the performance as well. Watch and see for yourself. This not only proves how great Alice In Chains is but also, how magical Layne Staley was as a vocalist and frontman.

 

Alice In Chains- Again/We Die Young:

Great Music Videos: Alice In Chains- Rooster

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Let’s take a trip back to February 1993 when the video for the Alice In Chains epic “Rooster” was released. The Mark Pellington directed video was poignant, dark ,deep and realistic. The video featured real Vietnam War documentary/news footage as well as some very realistic, graphically re-enacted combat scenes. Jerry Cantrell’s father was a consultant on the video, as it explores Cantrell Jr.’s interpretation of his father’s war experience. Something else that is interesting about this video is, at the time the video was also the longest music video ever aired in full on MTV (running approximately 7 minutes long).

They really don’t make videos like this anymore and that is a real shame. I will always remember how impactful the video was and still is.
Alice In Chains- Rooster: