So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1990 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Steve gets a Facelift courtesy of Alice In Chains…
With the rise in popularity of the Grunge scene happening around 1990 it was difficult for every band to stand out. Not every band was as musically and as lyrically adept as Pearl Jam would go on to be, not every band had such an interesting frontman as Nirvana had, and not every band could change tack as flawlessly as Soundgarden. Many came and went in the late 1980’s to the mid 1990’s and, whilst everyone remembers Nirvana and Pearl Jam breaking onto the scene, it was a single I didn’t expect to hear on UK radio that was my true introduction and that single was Man in a Box by Alice In Chains. There was a musical tightness amongst the band as they did a great job of treading the fine line between grunge and metal, but it was Layne Staley’s vocals that really appealed to 15 year old me (and nearly 45 year old me come to think of it), there was a beauty underneath the vulnerability, a soft insight underneath the hard message that just grabbed me.
As with all great singers of that era, Staley was troubled and would continue to struggle with Heroin addiction and Alice In Chains never really reached the great heights I firmly believe they could have. The harmonisation between Staley and Jerry Cantrell vocally, with the interesting musicianship of the band seemed at the time to be the kind of greatness that would last forever and whilst we still have Facelift, Dirt, and the wonderful EP Jar of Flies I am still very sad that we never got more. Whilst Facelift has some fantastic tracks on it, highlights including Put You Down, Bleed the Freak, and Love Hate Love, it will always be Man In the Box that I return to as that is where it started for me.
Image - iTunes