(26 October 1999, Columbia)
For someone who doesn’t own any other box sets, it’s strange that the one in my collection is this dismal affair. I’m not a completist and most bands I just get an album here or there. Hell, a lot of artists I’m perfectly happy to only own the greatest hits record and have no desire for anything deeper. But I made a decision a long time ago to collect the entire Alice in Chains discography so I had to find room for this behemoth.
Really, if you were new to the music of Alice in Chains and wanted to collect the complete discography that’s about what Music Bank does. The vast majority of this collection can be found on other albums. That’s precisely the reason I’m not a huge fan of it. I had to spend $50 to get rarities that would have comfortably fit on one disc.
Even some of the rarities aren’t that great. After starting off with the new “Get Born Again” (that was included on the Nothing Safe – Best of the Box collection) you get a few early demos. I’ve read some quotes saying that these guys were great and onto something new right from the beginning. Personally, I can’t tell from these demos. They’re good – don’t get me wrong – but they’re not extremely unlike demo albums I’ve heard from dozens of other bands. If they hadn’t gone on to develop their unique sound and have huge hits these tracks would just be collecting dust in an attic somewhere.
I remember really liking the demo version of “Rooster” toward the end of disc one, but upon relistening to it I don’t know what was so special. Maybe it’s just nice to have a different version of the song. It’s always burned my ass that the version of “Rooster” is the same on Live and Nothing Safe. I don’t expect them to have complete recordings of all their shows like the Grateful Dead, but it would be nice to have a few different versions.
The highlight of the second disc is “Fear the Voices.” This is a song from a demo they did for the Singles soundtrack and it completely rips. I remember it being pushed as a single for a little while but it never really caught on. I love how Layne and Jerry sing the chorus in a higher pitch and it makes the whole song different from anything else they’ve done. I guess it didn’t make it onto Dirt because it didn’t really fit and I can definitely agree with that. The only other rarity on disc two is “Lying Season” which was actually on the Singles album.
The highlight of disc three is “Again (Tattoo of Pain Remix).” I’ve always loved when rock songs were given to an electronic artist and turned into something completely different. Praga Kahn from Lords of Acid turns this into something do be twerked to on the dance floor. Or it would have been if people twerked back then.
The set closes with “Died.” This and the opening track were taken from the last recording with Layne Staley. It’s sad that this collection served as the end for him. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would have liked to hear some more out of this incarnation of Alice in Chains.
As it stands, this is something that I pull off the shelf for long car trips but don’t listen to much other than that. If you’re a completist like me you probably already have this in your set. If not I’d advise you to steer clear.
(There’s also a bonus CD-ROM with the “Get Born Again” video and some other stuff, but I’m not sure my laptop would play the late nineties technology. It’s only a half-step up from a 3 1/2″ floppy disk.)
Alice in Chains: All the Everything
Jar of Flies (1994)
Mad Season Above (1995)
S/T ‘The Dog Album’ (1995)
MTV Unplugged (1996)
Jerry Cantrell ‘Leave Me Alone’ (1996)
Jerry Cantrell Boggy Depot (1998)
Music Bank (1999)
Music Bank: The Videos (1999)
Jerry Cantrell Degradation Trip Vol. 1 & 2 (2002)
Comes With The Fall Live 2002
Black Gives Way To Blue (2009)
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013)
Alice in Chains: The Untold Story (2015)
Ranier Fog (2018)