I’m probably the only person ever who thinks this is Alice In Chains’ best album, but there you have it. I love Dirt, which was their giant blow-up success, but there’s a bit of a Superunknown syndrome going on there. Their crowning glory is their 1990 debut.
The thing about Dirt is that it’s kind of the ultimate grunge album. It’s called Dirt, first of all. Then it’s just dark song after dark song about drugs, evil, drugs, darkness, heroin, death and drugs. I mean, they went for a theme and nailed it. But it’s 57 minutes and 13 tracks long and includes song titles like “Rain When I Die,” “Hate To Feel,” “Angry Chair,” and “Down In A Hole.” I mean, even at the sexually-frustrated age of 17 I was a little full up on anger and bitterness by the end of that.
But we’re here to talk about Facelift. At least I am. I don’t know what the hell you’re doing here.
Seriously, though, Facelift is a much more balanced album. It’s still hella dark, with song titles like “We Die Young,” “Man In The Box,” “Sea Of Sorrow,” and “Love, Hate, Love.” But by the time you get to side two things lighten up a bit. Not a ton, but just enough to give you a different taste of another side of the band…a side we’d never see again. There’s a groove, a shuffle to the back side that they execute perfectly (go listen to “Put You Down”), but, and this is purely conjecture, Ima guess they and their management saw the way the winds were blowing after this album came out (which was a full year before Nevermind, for context) and thought, yeah, let’s emphasize that dark thing we do so well.
There are some amazing songs on Dirt I’d never want to do without, but if I want to listen to Alice In Chains electrified (because Sap‘s such an entirely different mood), I usually pull out Facelift, probably the first, and still one of the best, grunge albums. And Jesus, I didn’t even get into Jerry Cantrell’s solos, so wonderfully musical and unlike any other guitarist. Just perfect.
Mix: “We Die Young,” “Love, Hate, Love,” “It Ain’t Like That,” “Put You Down,” “Real Thing”
Love: “Man In The Box,” “Sea Of Sorrow,” “Bleed The Freak,” “I Can’t Remember,” “Sunshine,” “Confusion”
Really Like: “I Know Somethin (Bout You)”
Filed Between: The Airborne Toxic Event (All At Once) and Alice In Chains’ Sap
Song Notes: After the jump
- We Die Young –
- Man In The Box – The chorus gets too repetitive, but such a good song. And the guitar solo, awesome.
- Sea Of Sorrow – piano, great ride cymbal
- Bleed The Freak – was my fave back in the day
- I Can’t Remember –
- Love, Hate, Love –
- It Ain’t Like That –
- Sunshine – sweet groove in the B section. also a great intro riff
- Put You Down – so naive of me to think this was a drug metaphor for a girl when it was just about drug addiction. sigh. rip layne. lyrics are aimed right at 16-year-old me.
- Confusion – almost a love, but too long, ploddy. i def love it in points.
- I Know Somethin (Bout You) –
- Real Thing –