It saddens me that record companies are willing to resort to this kind of marketing. The only difference between this album and “Nothing Safe” released 2 years ago is the name and the fact that it has 5 fewer songs. Nominally, this will be Alice’s “Greatest Hits” album though really Nothing Safe has done the job quite well. There is no need for this.The only reason I’d buy this album is because I love Alice In Chains and I seek to have everything they’ve made. There’s no value in this besides another CD that says “Alice In Chains” on my rack. Instead of resorting to this nonsense, Columbia would have done much better by either releasing a CD of “authorized” bootlegs of live recordings and rare tracks, or released a video of live Alice material. This compilation doesn’t come close to filling a CD, and is a stark reminder that maybe Columbia and not Alice is now running the show.
From 1999’s Music Bank box set and its one-CD compilation offshoot, Nothing Safe: The Best of the Box to a 1996 Unplugged CD, the Alice in Chains titles continue to arrive even while the band–and especially reclusive frontman Layne Staley–stagnates. The quartet’s heavy, dirgelike music is aging well, but the 10 songs that comprise Greatest Hits are the basic radio hits. Greatest Hits features no new music, no liner notes, no lyrics, no new photos, and no elaborate packaging. Still, for the rock fan, every song on the disc (five of them penned solely by talented guitarist Jerry Cantrell) is a bona fide hit, from the band’s earliest, their 1990 breakthrough ”Man in the Box,” to the lush orchestration of ”I Stay Away” to 1995’s dark pop gem ”Heaven Beside You.” Greatest Hits provides a quick fix for newer fans, but with The Best of the Box boasting 9 of Greatest Hits’ 10 songs, plus an additional 5 selections. Skip Hits and go for The Best. –Katherine Turman
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Layne Staley (1967-2002)Only The Good Die YoungSince their formation in the mid to late 1980s, Alice In Chains has slowly been carving their place into metal. From their angrier works of Facelift to the beauty of Jar Of Flies to the heavy riffs of their self titled album, the band has survived the trends and this album, Greatest Hits, is only a small testament to what the band has accomplished in the last 15 years or so.Layne Staley (R.I.P.) takes lead vocals on most of the 10 songs, singing in his distinct style that a great deal of singers today have tried to imitate and make their own. Staley has the perfect voice for this band, going from wailing to a near growl. Harmonizing on vocals with Staley is Jerry Cantrell, who plays deep, dark, sludgy riffs and occasionally pulling off an incredible solo. The band’s drum work has always been something interesting. Sean Kinney plays beats so perfect and so complimentary to the guitar, it’s astounding. On the earlier songs, the bass is played by Mike Starr, whose low-end playing adds to the anger of the music. On the later releases, Mike Inez is present and he is a powerhouse when it comes to bass. He plays magnificently and adds a great touch to the songs.Right from the start, this album hits hard with their first hit, Man In The Box. With its memorable guitar work and powerful vocals, this song has earned its proper place on this compilation. From their fan-proclaimed masterpiece Dirt comes Them Bones, Rooster, Angry Chair and Would?. Them Bones is a hard rocker with some loud, crunchy guitar and harmonic vocals. Rooster is a classic song in itself. Each instrument is played amazingly well and Layne Staley soars during the choruses. Angry Chair is another amazing song. The song ranges from being deep and hard to melodic and heavy. The guitar work is thick but the drumming is a standout here, with a strong and consistent beat backing the darkness of the song. Would? is a very strong song with excellent instrumentation but the lyrics stand out. Much like the rest of the song on Dirt, the lyrics are filled with personal references, mainly on the usage of drugs, and this song is no exception. From Jar Of Flies comes No Excuses and I Stay Away. No Excuses is an excellent song with some nice acoustic guitar work and excellent drumming. I Stay Away is another acoustic song but it strays toward the darker elements of Facelift and Dirt. Layne Staley sings the vocals with overwhelming anger and agony with an orchestration of strings to back up the guitar, bass and drums. This song is one of the most powerful song on the Jar Of Flies album. The final songs on the album, Grind, Heaven Beside You and Again, come from their self-titled album. Grind is a dark, sludgy tune with some deep guitar and pounding rhythm as well as some harmonious vocals on the choruses. Heaven Beside You is an absolutely amazing song. The guitar is perfect, the rhythm is powerful and Jerry Cantrell, who assumes most vocals here, croons the lyrics amazingly. Again is the final song on this compilation and is much like Grind except a bit faster and not as dark.Alice In Chains have been a force to reckon with ever since they recorded and release their debut album. They have defied all trends and stuck to what they do best and their music has evolved over time. Unfortunately, we will never hear of the band entering the studio to record their follow-up. R.I.P. Layne Staley. This compilation is a nice deal maybe for beginners but the hardcore fans of AIC may want more. So, if you are just getting to the band, check this out but you long timers, stay away or you’ll hurt yourself getting mad at buying this.
Why do I say this? Because Alice in chains never wrote a bad song. Instead of getting the “Greatest Hits CD” (which is the third “Greatest Hits” this band has come out with: “Music Bank” and “Nothing Safe” preceding it); go out and get “Dirt”, “Jar of Flies/SAP”, “Alice in Chains (Tripod)”, and “Unplugged” instead. That’s only four discs, and you’ll get all the music that you’re going to miss on this ten track CD.This is obviously some sort of contractual obligation album. Since the band has no new material, they have to put out yet another Greatest Hits. Actually, if you want a really good Alice CD, which is virtually a greatest hits, just buy the “Unplugged” album. I hate to support Mtv, but it really is their best album. Honestly though, rather than buy this Greatest Hits, it’d be worth it to pick up “Dirt” and “Jar of Flies” instead. Those two CD’s will give you six of these ten tracks. Also, check out Jerry Cantrell’s solo stuff, it’s really good!
Part of the joy and enthusiasm that fans hold dear regarding the ill-fated Alice In Chains is their harmonies, vocal and instrumental, and their not-by-the-numbers approach to crafting excellent songs and stand-out albums. One could always expect that, upon playing any of their CDs for the first time, the music would be exceptional and the aural landscape pleasing. The CD greatest hits package sounds very good, but fans are more likely to shell out for the individual CDs in addition to the Greatest Hits package. When the SACD version of the their Greatest Hits was released, I expected the mix to be that much more interesting. At worst, I expected the lily to be gilded. However, the soundscape of this SACD, as played through multi-channel speakers is ABSOLUTELY ATROCIOUS. A horrible job has been done in separating the two-way stereo into 5.1, so much so that the entire sound is completely artificial. Compounding the problem is the becoming-more-frequent habit of engineers (specifically those those who engineer stereo CDs into 5.1 multi-channel) to REMIX the tracks in addition to the necessary repositioning of tracks to specific channels. In too many instances to count, the mix of these great, familiar songs is completely and very unsatisfyingly changed. This does not have anything to do with making a multi-channel mix from a stereo 2-channel mix, per se, but has everything to do with obliterating specific percussives, add-on guitar overdubs, and vocal tracks that you come to expect to hear. Example: In “Angry Chair” on the CD version, you hear Jerry Cantrell sing “I don’t mind, yeah/ I don’t mind” and expect to hear Layne Staley follow up with the background “I, I, I”. Layne is gone from the mix on the SACD! This is only one example of countless many that make the SACD version of Alice In Chain’s Greatest Hits a horrible, incomprehensible expenditure of the engineer’s time and our money. I agree with “A music fan from Santa Monica”’s assessment but am more disappointed than he’she; as for “ballparkvisitor”, you don’t have a clue.
ok this was my first album from alice in chains. i liked it then but never understood the 10 song thing. most albums have 12-15.
After a while my friend let me borrow nothing safe by alice in chains and i learned that well… it has all of the songs that are on the greatest album and the rest of the hits. if you are a fan like i am then you will know this and i have tripod so i can listen to heaven beside you. just so you know
all of the songs are good as they should be. it has the songs of
Man in the Box
I Stay Away
Heaven Beside You
See thats it nothing safe has
Man in the Box
I Stay Away
Got Me Wrong (Unplugged)
Get Born Again
What the Hell Have I
Down in a Hole
See what i mean so buy nothing safe
Hope this helps…