[16] Alice In Chains – Dirt

26 Jul

I remember seeing and hearing Alice In Chains for the first time on MTV, when MTV still played music.

Dirt (Alice in Chains album)

The images were starker, dirtier than the hair metal videos that were my favorites at the time, but they were striking and stuck with me. I also vividly recall thinking that I wanted to hear more of this band – full of powerful guitars and internal monologue lyrics. I planned to pick up Dirt. Somehow I never did.

Let’s blame Seattle.

Of course these days I know the tracks from this album which still pepper classic rock radio (and doesn’t that make me feel old), but I never explored deeper, never made Alice In Chains one of “my” bands. And this is as good a time as any to find out why . . .

Alice In Chains has always been just another Grunge band – nameless, faceless, samey in my head. I was always aware of them, but never engaged, never internalized. And this is a shame. Everything here is catchy and cryptic, melodic despite its crunchy edge.

I didn’t dislike the Grunge sound itself but disliked the way that popular culture dismissed my favored bands (some just as they were about to bloom) in favor of this “new” Seattle sound. The sound is in fact not especially new – it was the image, the look that was new. I hated that look.

Yet none of that is relevant to the hard rock album I am tapping my foot, bobbing my head to more than 20 years later, surprised at how much of it I remember.

The composition is simple – the chugging guitar riffs, the heartbeat drum thumping, the rudimentary yet somehow unexpected vocal harmonies over the almost droning lead.

And it turns out I’m loving it.

There is shading and coloring across the collection of songs – it’s not all straight ahead rock – and I find there is not a dead spot to be found as I listen to the album as a whole. There are moments of Hendrix-esque soloing, jazzy stop-time signatures and odd vocal choices, all keeping me on my toes as a listener.

Although the effect as a whole reminds me of any number of bands from my rock-clubbing days (I miss The Hungry Years) there are more than enough guitar flourishes and “found art” sounds enhancing the already engaging metal that I find plenty to explore on repeated plays.

I guess time does heal wounds, because I can listen to and enjoy Alice In Chains today without lamenting their effect on obscure favorites – bands like Bang Tango and Love/Hate that never got their shot – kept obscure by the rise of Grunge.

Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 16.  6%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 16.  19%)
Recommend? Yes. (12 of 16.  75%)

Next Week:  Mose Allison – Allison Wonderland

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4 Responses to “[16] Alice In Chains – Dirt”

  1. Mike July 26, 2013 at 10:22 AM #

    Avri, I had a very similar rediscovery of this album (http://recordingtherecordings.blogspot.com/2013/04/grunge-part-iv-alice-in-chains-dirt.html) although I came of age in the grunge era, and so really have very little excuse for not jumping on the AiC bandwagon. Totally agree with the surprisingly good listening experience of this album. Happy listening!

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