I didn't plan on this, but my buddy Wood, from the John Heron Project, asked if I was going to post about it, so why not. This slightly expands on a post I made over on the Bowlie board.
I was at a get-together this past weekend for someone's birthday. We ended up drinking quite a bit and playing Guitar Hero. Someone chose to play Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" and a Nirvana conversation sprang up between the non-participants. The conversation then naturally turned to Alice in Chains and it got me thinking about how much I used to like their album, "Dirt". Yesterday, I gave it a spin and the album still sounded as good as I remembered it, kinda heavy and electrifying, with all the subtlety of a Mack truck plowing through your living room.
I loved the darkness of the album. It was bleak and hopeless, with themes of addiction and doom running through every song (it's all about heroin, man). Add in Layne Staley's vocals, which sometimes bordered on creepy, Jerry Cantrell's distorted guitar, and the solid rhythm section and you have a damn good album.
Someone had responded by echoing almost exactly what I had said, and then adding that AiC were a third rate metal band who got lucky. I think I'd be inclined to agree because "Dirt" is the only album of theirs that really worked for me. I bought the others ("Facelift" and the self-titled "Alice In Chains") and they weren't nearly as good in my mind. However, the "SAP" and "Jar of Flies" EPs were quite good and fairly intense, despite being, musically, much more mellow than "Dirt".
The way I found "Dirt" was a bit unusual. My friend, Jennifer, whom I've known since junior high, was the one to recommend "Dirt" to me. Now, if you had ever seen her, you wouldn't guess by looking at her that she'd be listening to this album. If you spoke with her, you probably still wouldn't guess it, as she's very friendly, engaging and disarming. She's very cool, we have a lot in common and we're still pretty good friends these days; although I was recently disheartened to discover that she likes The Clash's "Cut The Crap" -- oh, the horror. She's gonna be pissed off if she reads this.
Alice in Chains > Dam That River