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 Post subject: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:24 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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Alice In Chains ~ Jar Of Flies


Vital Statistics:

Record Company: Columbia Records
Release Date: January 25, 1994
Producer: Alice In Chains
Web Site: http://www.aliceinchains.com/

Image


Musicians:

Layne Staley ~ Vocals
Jerry Cantrell ~ Guitars, Vocals
Mike Inez ~ Bass, Guitar
Sean Kinney ~ Drums, Percussion


Additional Musicians:

April Acevez ~ Viola
Rebecca Clemons-Smith ~ Violin
Justine Foy ~ Violincello
Matthew Weiss ~ Violin
David Atkinson ~ Harmonica
Randy Biro ~ Additional Vocals
Darrel Peters ~ Additional Vocals


The Rundown:

1.) Rotten Apple [6:56] (Staley/Inez/Cantrell): How friggin' cool is this song? Groove, harmony and an unbelievable vibe right from the first note. The rhythm section really hits the mark on this track, and the voice box guitar work is awesome. Each instrument pops right out at you, blending and interacting to help build the tension and atmospheric feel of this track. The vocal harmonies turned in by Layne and Cantrell gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it. One of my all-time favorite acoustic tunes. Rating: 15/10


2.) Nutshell [4:16] (Staley/Cantrell/Inez/Kinney): A much less complex number here, with the song building around a simple acoustic riff. Layne's plaintive vocal work stand in brilliant contrast to the soft acoustics and harmony vocals between the verses, and once again, the rhythm section's loose groove plays a vital role in the song's feel. The music swells as it goes, with Cantrell's wailing guitar breaks increasing in intensity, building into a flurry of intense bursts. In a "Nutshell," this track just oozes melancholy. I love this song. Rating: 15/10


3.) I Stay Away [4:13] (Staley/Inez/Cantrell): Another simple acoustic riff starts us off here, with Staley and Cantrell harmonizing on the vocals. The string accompaniment gives the verses a soft, flowing feel, while Cantrell's guitar work adds intensity to the choruses. Sean's drum work on this track is constantly changing, adding another layer to music, while Mike's bass serves to anchor the whole track to the main riff. The parts all compete for space here, with each part getting a foothold at times. This song is a feast for the ears, without a doubt. Rating: 12/10


4.) No Excuses [4:15] (Cantrell): The song starts with the drum line, which sets a more upbeat tone for the whole song. The tempo is a bit faster, and Mike and Sean are really in the pocket here, driving the song along with the groove. The harmonized vocals and strummed acoustic parts tend to sweep you up into the song, carrying you right into the sing-along choruses. Cantrell's leads are really smoking at times, but are crafted so that they don't overpower the track. This track is an outstanding example of why AIC kicked everyone else's ass in the 90s... and I mean everyone. Rating: 15/10


5.) Whale & Wasp [2:35] (Cantrell): This song is a 180-degree departure from No Excuses, with a slow acoustic riff, wailing chorus-soaked electric parts and string swells. There are no drums and no vocals, but the guitar acts as a distinct voice here. This is one of those little instrumental ditties that might be considered a "filler" track to some, but if you listen closely, you might just realize that it has its own story to tell. Rating: 8/10


6.) Don't Follow [4:21] (Cantrell): A soft acoustic intro serves as a stark contrast to the tension-filled delivery of the last song. The song starts off as a sweet-sounding lullaby, complete with harmonica fills. This track showcases the softer side of Staley's vocals, showing that he is more than capable of a smooth, sweet delivery when the song calls for it. Cantrell harmonizes at times for an even smoother sound. At about 2:30, the song picks up a little, giving it an almost spiritual vibe. Great tune. Rating: 9/10


7.) Swing On This [4:01] (Staley/Cantrell/Kinney/Inez): No false advertising here... the track is what the title says it is... a swing tune. :lol: The rhythm section really rules the roost here, with Mike laying down a nice walking bass line and Sean tapping away the beat. The band keeps the swing vibe for the verses, but switches into rock mode for the choruses. A surprisingly complex little tune, but all that translates in the groove in the end. Rating: 8/10




Trivial Tidbits:

:B "Jar Of Flies" was the first album featuring new bassist Mike Inez, who replaced Mike Starr.

:B According to a Hit Parader interview with Layne Staley, "It (the album title) came from a science experiment (AIC guitarist) Jerry Cantrell did when he was in the third grade. They gave him two jars full of flies. One of the jars they overfed, the other jar they underfed. The one they overfed flourished for a while, then all the flies died from overpopulation. The one they underfed had most of the flies survive all year. I guess there's a message in there somewhere. Evidently that experiment had a big impact on Jerry." Source

:B The album debuted at #1 on the U.S. charts, the first EP ever to hold that distinction, but it only remained there for a single week. It reached #2 in Australia and #8 in Sweden. It has since achieved double platinum status for U.S. sales.

:B Out of seven songs, four were released as singles: No Excuses, I Stay Away, Don't Follow and Whale & Wasp (which was released as a promotional single). No Excuses became the only AIC song to reach #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and also reached #3 on the Modern Rock charts and #32 on the Top 40 Mainstream charts. I Stay Away also charted at #10 on the Mainstream Rock charts.

:B The album was released in a variety of formats including: CD Plus (with multimedia features), limited edition double vinyl (with the "Sap" EP on side 3 and an etching on side 4) and a UK-only double CD (also with the "Sap" EP, which was not originally released in the U.K.). The first press of the U.S. CD contained plastic flies within the jewel case spine cavity.


The Last Word:

The Grunge Era saw the rise of a new breed of rockers, full of disappointment and frustration. Much of the music that came from that decade just didn't leave a strong and lasting impression, though. Like adolescent moodiness and attitude in general, it eventually gets left behind and is forgotten. However, there is a small group of artists that have stood the test of time and are still considered among the best. Out of that elite group, Alice In Chains are the undisputed kings of the Grunge-era heavyweights. Nirvana may have had the disillusioned kid thing down pat, Soundgarden did a great job of spreading their rage around, and Pearl Jam could certainly tell you a sad story, but nobody... and I mean NOBODY... beat AIC's ability to suck you in and show you any feeling or emotion they wanted to convey at the time, making you feel it from first note to last.

In many ways, nobody has been able to touch AIC in all the years since "Facelift" was first unleashed upon the masses in 1990. Musical statements like "Jar Of Flies" is certainly a big part of that. In the height of the flannel-wearing, flange-laden 90s, only AIC had the chops... not to mention the sheer balls... to release a primarily acoustic album. To make matters even worse, and they had the brass cajones to do it twice (the "Sap" EP being the first shot). In both cases, the band took a break from their usual hard-hitting approach, showing a completely different side of their personalities. While albums like "Dirt" and "Facelift" may have made you scream with angst and frustration, this EP could make you weep with sadness and melancholy. While "Sap" served as a reminder that having amps cranked to 11 wasn't always necessary to make a great rock song, this album made a much more complete musical statement. Songs like No Excuses and I Stay Away are startlingly good, setting the stage for something completely outside of the normal Grunge fodder. It's easy to see why they both rocketed into the top 10. However, it is two of songs that weren't released as singles that really set this album head and shoulders above nearly everything else released in the 90s: Nutshell and Rotten Apple.

Besides the obviously outstanding songwriting, this album could easily serve as the advanced course for any serious student musician. The dynamic range of the music. The understanding of how melody and harmony interact. The ability to blend diverse musical styles into a single, unified whole. It's all here. The musicianship crafted into these songs comes through with every note, and shows a maturity and fearlessness that is sorely lacking in most modern music. Every individual in the group shines here, putting their own musical stamp on the songs. However, when you put it all together, the sum of the whole is much greater than its parts. AIC put out a lot of great music during the 90s, but if you combine this album and the "Sap" EP into one album, I think you could easily call it "The Best Of The Best."

Alice In Chains paints an amazing musical picture here. One listen is all it takes to suck you in. I've often wondered why all music isn't as powerful and meaningful as theirs. I wish I knew. I think I'd be a rich man if I did. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of some of the classic blues I have come to enjoy so much over the years. Just a man, his guitar and a bar stool. He's there to tell you a little something about himself... and you can't really help but listen. When he's really on his game, you can almost hear the cigarette burning in the ashtray next to him and the condensation from the beer bottle gathering in a ring on the bar. But when it's all said and done and they've turned the stage lights off, what you really remember is the story he told.

Maybe in the end, that's what makes music really special... the story you take home with you.



RIP ~ Layne Staley (1967-2002)



The Bottom Line (AKA - The Six-Pack Scale): :B :B :B :B :B :B


:BB Steve

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"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


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"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:27 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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This is my first full review since May of last year... and I think it shows. :lol:

I'm not sure I like it... I may take it down. Give it a read if you care to... :B


:BB Steve

_________________
"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:10 pm 
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Good review Steve...I was never an AIC fan myself...a lot of their stuff was too dark for me...but I will say they were a serious cut above most of the bands of their era. "No Excuses" got a ton of airplay in this area back in the day.

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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:15 pm 
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Nutshell is a slick track .


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:05 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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Thanks guys... :B

I had a feeling this one wouldn't get too many views, though... :lol:


:BB Steve

_________________
"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:47 pm 
The Ultimate Dio Fan
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Never really got into this band, although I do have their greatest hits CD. I just might have to pick this one up.

As usual, another stellar review from Stevester!!

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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:46 am 
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Don't you dare take it down. It's got the trivia that I love!

7 tracks may be an EP to them, but that would be considered a double album by WASP standards these days. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:46 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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Thanks! :B

I am a huge AIC fan... I used to blast "Facelift" and "Dirt" all day long, but as my tastes have <GASP!> matured <AHEM>, I find that I listen to this album more than just about anything I could name from the 90s.


:BB What The Hell Have I

_________________
"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:23 pm 
The Lord of all that matters
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Great review Steve! I love this CD. I didn't know any of the trivia you provided. That's an awesome feature to have in your reviews. After reading this, I think I'm going to put in some Jar of Flies :D

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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:53 pm 
The Ultimate Metal Master
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Never been an AIC fan, good write-up even if your scores are grossly exaggerated :P

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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:12 pm 
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Well fish don't have ears so that says it all. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:24 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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Dave wrote:
Great review Steve! I love this CD. I didn't know any of the trivia you provided. That's an awesome feature to have in your reviews. After reading this, I think I'm going to put in some Jar of Flies :D


Thanks dude... but the trivia makes the write-ups take even looooonnnnggger. :x

:lol:


Dragon235 wrote:
Never been an AIC fan, good write-up even if your scores are grossly exaggerated :P


I've got your gross exaggeration right here, boy. :tsk:

You'll understand... when you grow a few fish pubes... :tease:


thinlizzy wrote:
Well fish don't have ears so that says it all. :lol:


You got it, bro. :lmao:


:BB Get Born Again

_________________
"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:02 am 
Heavy Metal Honey
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Don't you dare take this review down!! :tsk:

I like Alice In Chains, though at times I've found them a little too intensely depressing, but concluded that they are excellent musicians who didn't always match my mood.

This CD does show a lot of their true musical talent and intensity, and you described it very well. I like the trivia about them, which is something I generally look forward to in your reviews.

Great review Steve! :tup

SO, when are we getting one for Black Gives Way To Blue??


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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:38 am 
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fruitless endeavor wrote:
SO, when are we getting one for Black Gives Way To Blue??


Please stop talking about my balls. That's just rude.

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 Post subject: Re: Alice In Chains: Jar Of Flies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:52 am 
Heavy Metal Honey
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bildo wrote:
fruitless endeavor wrote:
SO, when are we getting one for Black Gives Way To Blue??


Please stop talking about my balls. That's just rude.


When were they black?


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