51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Don't get me wrong. Alice in Chains "Live" is a great album. But I wish there were more songs on it.
There are fourteen, so it's well worth the price; I certainly didn't get cheated. But AIC had so many great songs, more than enough for two such albums. Wonder if Columbia will try to put out another album sooner or later?
The album starts off with "Bleed the Freak," from the album Facelift. Very good rendition; showed Layne Staley in top, energetic form and showcased the emotional power of AIC to perfection.
Next was "Queen of the Rodeo," a sort of updated version of Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" for the 90s and beyond. Staley's "Queen" is more than a bit confused; his idea of fighting is to "scratch and bite," he wears nylons and makeup because his mother didn't know how to raise a boy, but . . . don't think he's a woman just because he's a transvestite, as Staley growls, "Last night I met your mother . . . I hope you understand, 'cause she did!" (profanity omitted because I don't want to get the review banned)
Very funny song. Showed AIC's humorous side to perfection.
Many other great songs are here, including "Angry Chair, "Man in the Box," "Love, Hate, Love," "Rooster," and "Would?" "Man in the Box" is done at a slightly faster tempo, with Staley ever-so-slightly emphasizing different words in the delivery. Cantrell harmonized with Staley flawlessly, once again adding a different dimension than just about any other rock band could claim. Staley effortlessly hit the high notes in this song, something that was more troublesome later in his career; in a way, it encapsulates the message even more firmly, putting this song into historical perspective.
Simply put; as every other reviewer has touched on, Staley had a drug problem. Died from them. Even here, he knew it, and wasn't happy about it; "Man in the Box" is a lamentation about his own situation, people in similar situations, and also points out the danger of trying to put _everyone_ in the same box. The sarcasm evident in this song often goes unnoticed; too bad, because Staley, Cantrell and the others were smart men, and very artistic. Hopefully one of these years the rock community will wake up to it, and they'll get voted into the Rock Hall of Fame, or something.
(Granted, too late for Staley. But better than nothing for the rest of 'em.)
My personal favorite, though, is "A Little Bitter." This, like "Get Born Again" from "Nothing Safe," would have been great to hear in a studio performance, on a new album. Staley's raw, tortured voice works very well here, showing a man who's more than a bit upset with how his life has went. From the instrumental intro, which almost seems to be crying, "Remember me! Remember me!" to Staley's haunting, evocative vocals about how his mind "shouts out for rest," and how he wonders if his life is a test sent from the Almighty, and asks aloud, "Oh, Lord, is this a test? Was it fun creating me? My God's a little sick . . . ", it's a superlative song about a tremendously unhappy man, reaching out to others who also were unhappy, trying to show *them* the way while he couldn't find his own.
To me, that encapsulates Staley's life. I read the Rolling Stone interview he did; seems to me that songs like this, "Don't Follow" from "Jar of Flies," and many others, were Staley's way of saying, "I'm messed up and I know it. Please do not do this; find another way, for this does not work."
Because Staley was able to articulate his pain, and the rest of AIC was able to help him give it beauty, meaning and purpose, he may have done more than just be a great rock singer. He might have given many people the idea that there were more people than usually believed that were depressed, and helped them realize they were not abnormal.
If so, Staley's death in 2002 is even more of a shame and a waste, because he had great gifts. Even more so than seen here.
Rest in peace, Layne Staley.
Oh, and for the rest of you, buy this album. It's definitely well worth the price, gives the idea of what a live AIC concert was like, and is a well-balanced collection.
If only Columbia will put out another album from the vault, preferably with Cantrell, Kinney and Inez's input, I'll be satisfied.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2000
Has Alice in Chains broken up? The official word is "no", but releases from the band are DEFINETLY few and far between. Although the Music Bank Box Set and the Nothing Safe disc both contained live tracks, it's excellent to finally have an official live Alice CD to listen to.
I first heard about this album on the radio, and happened to be in a local Newbury Comics store and saw it on the shelf. Being an AIC fan I instantly grabbed it, got it home and through it in my cd player.
This CD is fabulous -- it captures all of the agression, depression, power and fury of Alice in Chains' music and their live performances, stuffs it all down and crams it onto a five inch disc.
The tracks are all great, and there's a good variety on the cd --spanning there 13 year career. This is an essential recording and a must-own for any Alice in Chains fan.
My only complaint with this is that it should've been two CDs. Well, perhaps that's an unfair complaint, but with such a long career there's a hell of a lot more great material than what's on here.
Perhaps Alice in Chains and their record label, Columbia, will follow the example of Jimi Hendrix's label, "Experience Hendrix" and continue to release live and rare cds in the future. We can only hope.
And if anyone from the band happens to stumble upon this and read it, we're all still hoping and praying for another studio album from you guys. ;-)
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2000
Sometimes forgotten by the rock mainstream, Alice In Chains is Seattle's red-headed stepchild. With so much of the focus on Nirvana and Pearl Jam, AIC quietly recorded some of the best music of the ninety's. Layne Staley's awesome voice, along with Jerry Cantrell's great guitar and backing vocals led the way. This CD is a pretty good example of how they were not only a great studio band, but an awesome live act. It is a good blend of the more well known AIC songs mixed with classics known more to hardcore AIC fans. My only complaint is the ommission of two of my personal favorites, "It Aint Like That", and "Heaven Beside You" Of course this is only my opinion, and you probably don't give a damn, but I would've liked them included. That's not a reason to pass this one up though. Not perfect, but close enough for hungry Alice In Chains fans. Peace
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2004
Alice In Chains was one of the best live bands in my opinion and it's showcased here. One of the highlights of the album for me is the amazing performance of Love, Hate, Love. It's too bad that Layne Staley died, but he'll live on through his music.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2007
A couple of things come to mind right away while listening to this cd, the first of which is this: Layne Staley deserves any and all credit given to him for being an amazing vocalist. From the raw power he unleashes on tracks like Bleed the Freak and Love, Hate, Love, to the slower, softer Layne we hear on songs such as Rooster and A Little Bitter, Staley throws a five star performance at us.
The second thing I noticed was that Layne's voice does lose some of its power and range on the later recordings, no doubt a result of his ongoing drug addiction. If you listen to Bleed the Freak and then skip ahead to something recorded post '95 like God Am, he still sounds good, but at the same time he sounds very frail. The full capacity of his voice is rarely unleashed on these songs.
The last thing I thought after I stuck this in my cd player for the first time was that the song selection is top notch. Granted, I would have loved to hear more of their early recordings, and maybe one or two songs off of Jar of Flies, but this is as perfect as it gets on a live album. You get classics that everyone knows like Rooster, Man in the Box, and Would?, then you get some of the "sleeper" tracks you wouldn't necessarily expect to see on a live album like Junkhead, Dirt, and Dam That River, but you also get some rarities like Queen of the Rodeo and A Little Bitter (Neither track was ever released on a studio album).
There really aren't too many negatives to throw around with AIC Live. Jerry Cantrell does have a few minor screw ups on guitar, but nothing big enough to take away from the rest of the music. Kinney's drumming seems a little drowned out at times, but at the same time I realize Alice in Chains' sound was built around Jerry's riffs, not Sean's drumming. One final thing I noticed: on God Am, Again, and Them Bones, I don't know if it was because he was high or just having an off night, but Layne seemed to take some time to settle into the songs and struggled at first.
Some last thoughts on the album: I thought Cantrell handled his backing vocals very well, and I loved how clearly all the songs come through your speakers. Unlike a lot of live albums, on this one you can pick out any of the instruments at any time and listen to exactly what's being played. Also, I usually don't like when an artist releases a live cd with performances spanning a wide range of dates, but it works fine here.
This is a must have for any Alice in Chains fan, and it's also a nice addition to any rock or grunge fan's collection.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2002
I purchased "LIVE!" on the day it was released. A live Alice In Chains CD had been long overdue. There was a prior live CD, "MTV UNPLUGGED", but that's different. "UNPLUGGED" is a come in, sit down, dim the lights, fire up some candles, and play some laid back music for a television audience kind of thing mainly directed by the suits at MTV and Columbia Records. Somewhat like going to a church service. Don't get me wrong, any church service led by Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell is going to be damn interesting church service, and well worth adding to your CD collection, it's just . . . well . . . not the Alice In Chains live CD I had been longing for.
"LIVE!" is the REAL DEAL! "LIVE!" is to Alice In Chains as "From The Muddy Waters Of The Wishkah" was to Nirvana. "LIVE!" is Alice In Chains the way an Alice In Chains concert was - LOUD!
Jerry Cantrells guitars are crisp, Layne Staleys vocals are awesome, and the rest of the band is tight. Sure, they may misfire once or twice among the tracks from the '86 shows, but nothing demeaning in any way. The track list is top notch and the sound quality is superb. The AIC standards are here, Man In The Box, Bleed The Freak, Angry Chair, Rooster, Would, Them Bones, etc. Queen Of The Rodeo is one of those rarities that no AIC fan should be without. My only real complaint with the track list is the omission of a live version of Down In A Hole. All things considered, LIVE represents an excellent Alice In Chains concert.
If you don't already own any of their live stuff, then buy LIVE first, and then go for MTV UNPLUGGED. Both are ESSENTIAL ALICE IN CHAINS.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2001
The first thing you should do when listening to the CD is go to track 5. "Love, Hate, Love" shows the band at it's finest. Layne Staley's vocals and Cantrell's guitar wizardry is unmatched in the hard rock/alternative genre. "Queen of the Rodeo" is a fun change for the band, and "Man in the Box" is just simply awesome. For anyone who has never seen the band live, I think this CD will give you some idea of how powerful they were live. I do feel there could have been more tracks added. When I saw them for the first time opening for Van Halen I was mezmerized. This is a definite keeper for any AIC fan.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2001
So this is what it has come to? A band releasing a collection of live tracks just to foot the bill and make ends meet? That's the way it would seem, although this album has a much better feel then other "We really need money" albums. After all, it's a possibility that this is not one of those CDs. You'd think it is though...
Alice In Chains was the least commercially successful of the "Seattle Four" (the others being Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam), but probably retained the most integrity of the group at the same time. For all intents and purposes, AIC was the band that broke up and forgot to tell anyone (yeah, a six year hiatus) in 1995. Both Jerry Cantrell (guitars) and Layne Staley (vocals) have worked on side projects, making the end all the more apparent.
"Live" is just what the title implies. It's a collection of famous AIC tracks recorded live between (if memory serves correctly) 1992 and 94. The disc starts off with the band performing together as a cohesive unit, but by the end, the performances have deteriorated to cases of all hell breaking loose on stage. You sometimes wonder if each member is performing the same material. It's easy to tell that by that time, relations within the band were extremely strained, and lead singer Layne Staley was losing his personal battles against heroin.
For the most part though, the album shows those who may not have ever been able to see AIC live what they were like. For the most part, there is no jamming, just straight versions of studio tracks-famous songs like "Them Bones," "Dirt," "Rooster," and my personal fave "Man in The Box."There is, however a little interaction with the crowd, although not much.
At it's worst, Live shows us the horrors of drug addiction, and at it's best, lyrical and creative genius. Some portions are strained, but at it's brightest points, Live provides insight into the live performances of America's greatest grunge band.... If you're looking for something akin to a greatest hits cd, or are a die hard AIC fan, Live is for you. If you are just a casual fan, I'd stay away from it until you are ready...
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2000
How could this incredible live band not release a live album for 10 years.
Well it is worth the wait. These 14 songs show all the power of one of the greatest and most missed band's of the '90s
Incredible versions of Rooster, Love Hate Love and Bleed The Freak.
When you hear Man In The Box, you are amazed at the power of Layne Staley's voice.
A great album
A must for all the fans
See where most of of the new crop of bands got their song ideas... (Godsmack, etc)
Long Live Alice
The real thing
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2012
The final release (or you could say cash-in) from the Layne Staley-era of Alice in Chains, simply titled "Live," is upon first glance a basic meat-and-potatoes live effort but thankfully has more to offer than what you may expect. Recorded at various tour stops from 1990-1996 (and in chronological order, no less), the band's one and only live offering (plugged in, that is) serves not only as a brief "Best Of" affair, but also proof positive that even though addiction crippled the original group in their twilight years together, it never got in the way of knocking out a killer live show time and time again.
Not only are Jerry Cantrell (guitar/vocals), Mike Inez (bass), Sean Kinney (drums) and even the late Mike Starr (the original bassist who appears on the first handful of tracks) as tight live as on the record, but frontman Layne Staley -- arguably the most tragic and troubled singer of his time -- steps up to the plate as well, shining like the grungy angel he truly was. Though obviously on his last leg performance-wise during the band's infamous MTV Unplugged set, Staley never misses a beat on this live set, churning out those haunting yet somehow soothing melodies that were his trademark and carrying over every ounce of soul from the recordings to the show. Heck, even a few tracks, such as the under-rated "Love, Hate, Love," go so far as to rival their studio-recording counterpart, thanks in large part to Staley's live presence. A band as good live as on record? Imagine that.
The track-listing plays like a standard AIC greatest hits collection but with a few noteable omissions. Mainly, nothing from the "Jar of Flies" or "Sap" EPs is present, which is a shame. Luckily, there's a few rarities sprinkled throughout which more than make up for any slack. "Queen of the Rodeo," an Alice in Chains oldie and quite possibly the most emasculating country song ever written, rears its ugly head to lighten the mood amidst the gloomy yet effective opener, "Bleed the Freak." Later, the "Last Action Hero" soundtrack offering, "A Little Bitter" gets some live loving as well. Regardless of song selection, though, the real success of the album is how good it sounds and how the band does justice to their art, a tradition that has been more than carried over into the new version of Alice in Chains' live show. Once you dig deep enough into the band's catalogue and unearth every golden nugget the band has to offer, be sure to pick up this often over-looked but solid live effort. Although a record label cash-in, it really is a testament to how truly awesome this band -- in any form -- always has been.