Customer Reviews


66 Reviews
5 star:
 (40)
4 star:
 (21)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


59 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Alice In Chains compilation so far.
There are already two Alice In Chains compilations out there, and they have all of the most popular songs, but they kind of miss the most interesting thing about Alice In Chains. This band is usually classified as either grunge or metal, which is a perfectly accurate label if you only listen to their three studio albums. But they also released two short EPs that showed a...
Published on October 22, 2006 by Angry Mofo

versus
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missing Some Essentials
If it's not a mortal sin to call this "The Essential" AIC when it doesn't include "Down In A Hole," it should be. That's not an earthquake I feel, it's Layne Staley rolling over in his grave!

What's here is excellent, of course, but why include "Sap" (AIC's weakest release) nearly in its entirety when there's no "Bleed The Freak" or "Down In A Hole?"...
Published on May 2, 2008 by The Evil Mr. Jones


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

59 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Alice In Chains compilation so far., October 22, 2006
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
There are already two Alice In Chains compilations out there, and they have all of the most popular songs, but they kind of miss the most interesting thing about Alice In Chains. This band is usually classified as either grunge or metal, which is a perfectly accurate label if you only listen to their three studio albums. But they also released two short EPs that showed a much quieter and more contemplative side of their sound. These EPs contain moody, bluesy songs performed on acoustic guitars. I guess it's not really that big of a departure (didn't metal start out as just a really loud variation on the blues?) but it's also quite different from what their less subtle contemporaries were doing.

The thing is, singer Layne Staley's voice was perfectly suited to low-key introspective songs. He could yell better than most others, too, but on the softer numbers, he could sing in a very haunting, sombre drawl that many later singers have tried and failed to imitate. And that gave depth to Alice In Chains. Somehow they always seemed more serious than the other grunge bands.

The ideal Alice In Chains compilation should show that side together with the loud, rockin' singles. This compilation tries to do that, but misses the two most important songs. It contains almost all of the band's most popular album Dirt, except, inexplicably, the one softer song "Down In A Hole," which perfectly encapsulates this thoughtful side of the band and contrasts well with the loud and angry songs on the album. Then, the compilation touches on the band's second EP Jar Of Flies, but doesn't include the opening song "Rotten Apple," which has a beautiful opening build-up and a moving, world-weary vocal by Staley. Immediately, the compilation's claim to gathering the "essential" Alice in Chains goes out the window. It's a pity. The record company really could have fit both songs somewhere on two CDs.

The truly "essential" Alice In Chains consists of two albums, Dirt and Jar Of Flies. Those two albums cost less put together than this one. So, if you don't know anything about this band, it would be more logical to get those two albums instead of this compilation. And if you're a big fan of the band, then you probably already have the box set, so this compilation will contain nothing that you aren't familiar with.

But if you already own and like Dirt and Jar Of Flies, but not the other albums, then this compilation becomes surprisingly relevant. First of all, it contains the entire Sap EP (except for the bonus track, which isn't good anyway). Then, it has four songs from the band's first album Facelift, including both of the well-known singles. This should be all you need from the debut unless you're a really big fan, in which case you already own the whole album. The band's third and final album is represented by four very good songs, one in a live rendition. The rest of the album is also good, so maybe the compilation should have covered more of it at the expense of some songs from Dirt, but again, compilations aren't really made for the band's biggest fans.

Further still, the compilation contains two non-album tracks, "What The Hell Have I" and "A Little Bitter," which appeared on the Last Action Hero soundtrack. "A Little Bitter" doesn't appear on either of the previous two Alice In Chains compilations, so it's even kind of rare. There are also a couple of tracks from the Unplugged live album. They're not really essential, but if you have Dirt and Jar Of Flies, you might find them interesting.

And finally, this compilation contains both of the band's last songs, "Get Born Again" and "Died," which were recorded during a brief reunion in 1998. "Get Born Again" is included on the Nothing Safe compilation, but "Died" has previously been unavailable anywhere other than the box set. These are the most valuable inclusions on this compilation, because they're the band's best "metal" songs, featuring Layne Staley's finest performances. "Died" is not only the more obscure of the two, but the better one as well. Staley's lyrics were always really vague, but this song contains a seemingly clear allusion to events in his own life, and listening to it, maybe it's understandable that he sort of gave up.

In conclusion, this compilation doesn't replace the best Alice In Chains albums, but it does replace all of the previous compilations. If you can't or don't want to get the box set, then this is a good choice to round off your Alice In Chains collection, since it does give you a few great rarities and a whole EP in addition to the hits and album tracks. But if you really want to have all of their songs, then of course there's no point in bothering with it. Then again, if that's the case, then you own the box set, and you're not reading this review.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar collection, despite missing 2 critical songs, January 12, 2007
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Layne Staley (vocals, guitar), Jerry Cantrell (guitar, vocals), Mike Inez (bass), Sean Kinney (drums & percussion).

THE DISC(S): (2006) 28 tracks on 2-discs clocking in at approximately 130 total minutes (disc-1 at 73:56 minutes, disc-2 at 55:54). Included with the discs is a 6-page foldout containing song titles/times/credits, a brief 3-page intro, band photos, and what songs came from which albums and the year released. This compilation follows the band from 1990-99. Label - Sony/Columbia.

ALBUM REPRESENTATION: Facelift (4 songs), Dirt (9), Sap (4), Jar Of Flies (2), Alice In Chains (3), Unplugged (2), Music Bank (2), "Last Action Hero" soundtrack (2).

COMMENTS: Alice In Chains (AIC) was one of my favorite bands from the 1990's. Exciting and unique, dark and brooding - extraordinary and matchless vocals, crunchy electric guitars, captivating acoustic guitars, solid bass work, effortless drumming. And perhaps most importantly - great melodies with a wide range - alternative, hard rock, grunge, metal, and even lite-rock as "Jar Of Flies" would teach us. There are several AIC 'best of' compilations out there... "Nothing Safe: The Best Of The Box" (1999), "Greatest Hits" (2001), the extensive 4-disc "Music Bank" (1999), and this "Essential". All are good, however there's a lot of repetition in the song selections. AIC had 3 full length studio albums and 3 shorter EP's... and having 4 compilations doesn't make sense to a lot of fans. For me, the "Music Bank" is good, but it's filled with too many demos, remixes and live songs. The single disc collections are great, but not nearly long enough. That brings us to this 2-disc "Essential" set. For the money, it's the best mix on the market as of 2006. THE GOOD: The staples are (almost) all here in their remastered glory - "Man In The Box", "We Die Young", "Brother", "Angry Chair", "Rooster", "Dam That River", "No Excuses", "I Stay Away", "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", "Would?", etc. Nine (should've been ten) songs from "Dirt" is warranted. Even the lesser hits are selected carefully - "Sea Of Sorrow", "Right Turn", "Them Bones", "Rain When I Die", "Nutshell", etc. The 2 tracks from the "Music Bank" only, "Get Born Again" and "Died" are great to have without having to make the hefty "Bank" purchase. The digitally remastered sound is crisp. THE NOT SO GOOD: I found only two major things wrong with this "Essential" collection. 1. - most importantly, there are 2 staples the label missed... how could they put this together and not include "Down In A Hole" and "Bleed The Freak"? To me, this is an absolute crime. I'd compare that to a company putting together a Led Zeppelin "Essential" set and not including the songs "Rock And Roll", and "Kashmir". "Down In A Hole" is easily one of AIC's most recognized songs. Other AIC tracks that I felt were deserving (but did not make the cut) - "Sludge Factory", "Shame In You", "Frogs", "Rotten Apple", and/or "Don't Follow". 2. Almost twenty-five minutes of unused space on disc-2. Adding two or three of the omitted songs (mentioned above) could have made this set superb in every aspect. Minor things wrong - no tracks were included from their "Live" disc, as well as perhaps not enough songs (only two included here) from AIC's outstanding "Unplugged" release. Fairly thin liner notes. And, couldn't they have found a better picture for the front cover? OVERALL: Any compilation I've ever listened to is not without flaws... and "The Essential Alice In Chains" is no exception. The music here is brilliant, and outside of the two significant songs (mentioned above) that were neglected, I truly feel this is their best mix of songs for the money in one package (4.5 stars).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthwhile Compilation, September 5, 2006
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
Certainly this re-mastered collection tops the previous "Greatest Hits" and "Best of the Box" offers. It's definitely worth the $20 for the album.

One has to wonder, as is obligatory with any compilation representative of an artist's entire body of work, how a few Chains standards were omitted.

The biggest omission is the absence of the beautifully crafted "Down In A Hole," but also curious is the "Rain When I Die" selection over "Junk Head" from "Dirt." Other interesting selections would be the "Sap-heavy" track inclusions while AIC's mini-masterpiece, "Jar Of Flies" seems under-represented. "Rotten Apple," "Whale and Wasp" or "Don't Follow" could have easily been included on the ostensibly shorter second CD. Also, though Layne's performance on the unplugged version of "Nutshell" is particularly poignant, the album version of that song (though never released as a single) is regarded by some as the band's single best track and could have been included in its original form.

Regardless of opinion of the song selection, this two-disc set is fairly comprehensive and undeniably worth the price of purchase.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Comprehensive Yet Flawed Overview of One Of Seattle's Finest..., May 4, 2007
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
Alice In Chains was a pinnacle Seattle band, and they were part of the Seattle movement that was so prevalent in the 90s, and they carved a niche for themselves in the music world. They had tasted the triumphs of success and they also tasted the bitter pills of defeat (the death of singer Layne Staley was the worst of it all). Many compilations have come to fruition out of the Alice In Chains catalog. MUSIC BANK was the best of the bunch because not only did you get a helping of 3 CDs compiling hits, rarities, and remixes, it included a cd-rom and a comprehensive booklet inside detailing the history of the band itself. Before that was NOTHING SAFE: The Best of The Box, and although it had it's share of the hits, it was merely a sampler and a very small portion of what could have been a huge meal. Then Sony Special products released the pointless 10-track collection GREATEST HITS, which was a complete dud because tons of great songs were left off at the expense of giving the consumer something cheaply manufactured and made. But now, we've got another compilation from Sony entitled THE ESSENTIAL Alice In Chains. Now another question comes to mind here: is this compilation any better? Well, the answer is mostly yes, with a nay for a major single and a few minor hits that were left off this compilation.

The thing this compilation does nicely that MUSIC BANK also did was compile the songs in chronological order. Here's how it runs down on each of the compilations hearty two discs.

On disc 1 you get the pummeling "We Die Young", the classic "Man In The Box", the underrated epic feel of "Sea of Sorrow", and the unadulterated pleasure of the chilling "Love, Hate, Love" from FACELIFT. While these four songs truly represent the meat of FACELIFT, they also represent the origins of Alice In Chains...the majestic building of their monolithic sound and power. Next up we get the entire SAP ep minus that goofy final hidden track, although not in the order of the original ep, which is no big deal because all four songs are excellent tracks. "Got Me Wrong", "Right Turn", "Am I Inside", and "Brother" all blend acoustic and electric nuggets of alternative metal, with "Am I Inside" being a ballad of sorts. From there we dive right into the songs from the masterpiece album DIRT. This is where the compilation runs into a major flaw. You do get the hits such as "Rooster", "Them Bones", "Would?" (found on the end of disc 2), and "Angry Chair". You also get other tracks from dirt like the thrash of "Dam That River", the disorienting title track, and the thundering "God Smack". But my question is why the hell did they leave "Down In A Hole" off of this compilation? What in their right minds made them leave off such a classic song that was a big, big song on the radio and a hit video as well? Well, the folks at Sony must have been smoking crack. This flaw may irk many fans including myself, so it almost renders this compilation completely unnecessary as we have the comprehensive MUSIC BANK. So that's the one major flaw this overview runs into, but it's pretty much the only major flaw here.

Now we go into disc two, which represents the later years of Alice In Chains. We pick up with two fine songs from JAR OF FLIES to start disc two, the shining radio nugget "No Excuses" and the angsty majesty of "I Stay Away". But I think "Rotten Apple" and "Don't Follow" should have been included on this compilation as well, so those are two other more minor flaws here, especially since "Don't Follow" could be heard on the airwaves at that point. But then next we head right into the self-titled "tripod" album, and the slow burn of "Grind", the catchy stomp of "Again", and the folky metallic bluesy "Heaven Beside You" all represent the album quite well, showcasing the classic rock stylings that made the album different sonically from the past Alice In Chains records. Then we get two non-album tracks in remix form, with "What The Hell Have I? and "A Little Bitter", both featured on the LAST ACTION HERO soundtrack. The remix versions sound almost no different from the original versions except that they're sound is a bit heavier and thick than the cleaner metal of their almost mirror counterparts. Then you get two nuggets from the unplugged cd, with the classic "Nutshell" and the quiet dynamics of "Over Now" providing respite from the heavy rock that made Alice In Chains a household name. The compilation comes to an end with 3 more songs, the previously released recordings of "Get Born Again" and "Died", which have bite but sound a little unfinished and leave you feeling the void that has been left from Staley's death. And the last song, the big, mighty majestic roar of the classic hit "Would?" ends the two-disc set with a bang, providing the band's biggest hit and most impassioned performance. It became a staple of 90s radio singles and also was featured on the SINGLES soundtrack. It was among the best of a handful of songs in their catalog.

So to the Alice In Chains fan I say only get this to complete your catalog if you want to have everything by Alice In Chains. If you're merely curious about the band and want to get a taste of AIC and not take a bite out of your wallet, then this compilation will serve you well. Although this compilation leaves off a couple of songs that would have made the title "essential" stand true, this compilation does do a nice job of capturing the best parts of Alice In Chains in all their primal, disorienting and bleakly monstrous glory. This was a band whose time was cut short by tragedy, but who ultimately left a huge mark on the music scene. ESSENTIALS is essential for AIC completists, and a good introduction for first timers. But be warned: if you want to get all the hits and get your money's worth, then track down MUSIC BANK.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite perfect, September 8, 2006
By 
Galley (Greenville, South Carolina United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
As is typical with Sony's "The Essential..." series, there are always a couple of essential tracks missing and this collection is no exception. Why in the world would they leave off "Down In A Hole"? There's plenty of space for it on disc 2.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A BELATED APPRECIATION, FROM A BABY BOOMER, October 18, 2006
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
There are two distinctly different types of people who will see this collection as a worthwhile addition to their collection. The first and most obvious are the true fans who already own everything, but want this new package as a high quality souvenir, posthumously dedicated to the career of a fine band. I belong to the second group of people, music fans who didn't quite relate to the message of Alice In Chains when it was current, but clearly see their relevance now. I was a half-generation removed from the Gen Xers, so the bleak messages and dark chords that appealed to a crowd approximately ten years younger than me left me with dubious impressions. The dark intensity of their music made me feel alienated at the time, and I did not want to immerse myself in a scene that seemed to embrace addiction as an answer to life's anomalies.

Caught somewhere between hard rock and alternative post-punk, the grunge scene injected a dose of vitality into the music scene of the early `90s. The idiocy of hair metal had been giving `hard rock' a bad name, and the grunge bands revitalized rock and roll by conveying something much more credible (and distinctly more dangerous). Alice In Chains were arguably the best band from this scene. The state of Washington served as home base for many like-minded bands, and Alice In Chains sat on the precipice of that specific place and moment in time. Now that I hear the band from a safe distance, fifteen years removed from the hyperbole and intensity of the `grunge' movement, I can appreciate both the musicianship and the honesty of Alice In Chains. The lonely circumstances of Layne Staley's death may have driven the symbolic nail into the coffin of grunge, but it also caused a lot of people to reconsider the band that provided such a powerful soundtrack for his internal battle.

It is impossible to ignore the references to heroin that litter this collection, or the pain that normally associates itself with such a singular existence, but an entire generation related to the message of Alice In Chains, seeing their music as a metaphor for a world gone mad. Three albums and a pair of EP's are pared down to a manageable two disks that represent the truly essential bits from this bands catalog. There are no rarities, which also means that there is virtually no filler. So, if you're already a fan, or if you are finally coming around to accepting Alice In Chains as an important American band, "The Essential Alice In Chains" is a superb representation of their career, and of a strangely dark time in our cultural history. A- Tom Ryan
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The collection we/they deserve., September 5, 2006
By 
H3@+h "Over 1500 reviews!" (thanks for the helpful review votes) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
It seems like it took years for this collection to be released, but nice that it's finally here, and thank god it's two cd's. All the major grunge bands had their own thing goin' on, AIC stuck with the heavy, sludgy, dark side of things. Not to say that they only brought the rock though. I rate the softer/acoustic side of the band just as high as the alt/metal side. This much needed "Essential" set means you can now get rid of your "Greatest Hits" disc and "Nothing Safe: Best Of The Box" disc. It's all here. In fact so is most of their mega-hit album "Dirt" for that matter. I may have added another track from "Jar Of Flies" and "Alice In Chains" myself, or maybe "Junkhead", but otherwise this is close to perfect. To be honest, if I myself were to pick just two songs from the "Unplugged" album, it really would have been "Nutshell" and "Over Now". So cool to see "Right Turn" on here too. I call this a must for any level of fan.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Compilation, January 9, 2007
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
They include almost of their hits on these two hits but they are no way "Essential". For some reason "Down in a Hole" was left off and they included the unplugged version of "Nutshell". Every compilation of AIC's includes only the unplugged version, I dont understand why, the studio version is much better. They also left off Bleed the Freak.

But for the most part this is a great hits cd but it could've been condensed down to one disc easily.

Mine would have been:

1. Would?

2. Rooster

3. Man in the Box

4. No Excuses

5. Heaven Beside You

6. Again

7. Get Born Again

8. What the Hell Have I?

9. I Stay Away

10. Nutshell (studio version)

11. Down in a Hole (studio version)

12. Them Bones

13. Angry Chair

14. Sea of Sorrow

15. Bleed the Freak

16. We Die Young
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Compilation, One That's Been Worth Waiting For, September 5, 2006
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
Alice In Chains have influenced many bands that have come after thier 1990's whirlwind tour of the music scene. Here some of their prime tracks have been plucked and placed between two CD's. Their first greatest hits album was good, but again, you are always left wanting more. This one tries to do that, but again will always fall flat. Eveyone will always have their favorite songs, and not all of them can be placed on a "greatest hits" collection.

This is no exception, but it is a glaring hole that they left off "Down In A Hole" a popular request on radio stations in my area. The rest, excellent in all aspects, a must for chains fans and new chains fans. Since Jerry Cantrell is back on Tour with the remains of Alice in Chains, it is fitting they have something for fans to have to remember them by. The only reason this does not get a five in my book is that it is just a greatest hits album, and mostly an attempt by big brother Sony to milk a legacy that Lane Staley and the crew left for future generations to enjoy, not exploit. None the less, worth a pick up.

For those who are dying to know what Bonus DVD's are being tossed around with this, it is the "NONA TAPES" which inclued 1995 promotional interview of the band and the videos for Grind and Heaven Beside You, previously not available on DVD. Hope this was helpful
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shame In You, September 25, 2006
This review is from: Essential Alice in Chains (Audio CD)
This is another shameless compilation in the ever-growing re-re-re-released AIC back catalogue. It may suit some casual fans who want just one compilation to represent the band for them, and this is the best compilation for that. It just seems pointless and annoying that the same songs have to be re-released over and over again. When will it be time to say over now?

I have given it 5 stars because the material here it flawless. The question I have to ask is why doesn't the record company give us something that we really want? Something new which hasn't been released countless time before? If they want to make money then why don't they release a Live DVD? I know we have Unplugged, but that is only half the story. A proper live electric DVD is a huge glaring gap in the market which needs to be filled. To release something of this nature is the only thing which would help give this band the justice they deserve.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Essential Alice in Chains
Essential Alice in Chains by Alice In Chains (Audio CD - 2006)
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.