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.
While Live may be a stopgap measure to bide time for a troubled band that hasn’t released an album of new material since 1995, it’s also a cool and comprehensive live portrait of a sonically superb band. The 14 tracks, recorded at various venues between 1990 and 1996 and featuring both bassists–ex-member Mike Starr and replacement Mike Inez–show a vitality and looseness not evident on the band’s serious studio albums. AIC’s spirit is most evident on the countrified ”Queen of the Rodeo,” although their personalities shine throughout. Sequenced from a booming 1990 version of ”Bleed the Freak” through ”Dam That River,” captured during AIC’s stint on a 1996 Kiss tour, Live provides a striking cross section of performances from a seminal hard-rock band. –Katherine Turman
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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.
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…
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. ~ CuRmuDgeoN
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.