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Alice in Chains - Greatest Hits

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  • 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.

    Posted on November 15, 2009