Style: alt rock
Members: Layne Staley ~ vocals/rhythm guitar
Jerry Cantrell ~ lead guitar/vocals
Mike Inez ~ bass/rhythm guitar
Sean Kinney ~ drums
Additional: Scott Olson ~ guitar/bass
Getting unplugged, or acoustic, is today a common event for bands, almost too common. Though, only a few decades ago when Tesla did it for their breakthrough album it was a rarity limited to the obligatory once per album power ballad ... & the folk world was suffering because of the shunning of all acoustic songs/albums/concerts in the weird thing that is called music trends. When MTV decided to create a show focusing on being unplugged, basically coining the phrase for the mainstream, the concept turned into something great, intimate ... & at other times anti-climactic. Too often already primarily acoustic bands would be on the show & perform as they always did (i.e. John Mellencamp). They need to plug, not unplug. Other acts took advantage of the format to reinvent their careers (i.e. Rod Stewart & Eric Clapton), whether deliberately or accidentally, & to dust off lost songs of the past to the delight of all. Other bands would use the show to be inspired to do their own unplugged moments (i.e. Megadeth did an acoustic tour in Canada). Others used it as a platform to continue their social message (i.e. Pearl Jam). For others it was a hypnotic moment that defied expectations & worked when it shouldn't have (i.e. Nirvana). While for others ... well, they should stay plugged in. But, there's countless MTV Unplugged episodes & but a handful that are real classics, but that's what we have come what we expect. It became a gig where classic status was going to be the description of every gig. No, that's not reality. Okay, there's always going to be something interesting in every episode as many of the songs performed had never had an acoustic workout before. Sometimes the experiment added to the song, usually that was the case, & sometimes it just stripped it down for an interpretation, & once in awhile it just didn't click but was a good try anyways. But, like all concerts, so much of the magic was not just in the songs & the new or unusual instrumentation but also what the band themselves brought to the fold in terms of their performance. This is where the winners & losers of the TV series are to be determined. That last note is the key to AIC's moment on MTV Unplugged. I've never met anyone who doesn't have accolades to say about AIC. Outside of the personal members own interesting biographies, the duel vocals rough & personal & almost progressive music was & is unlike anyone other band out there. They were truly a unique band. I remember when I first got Dirt I couldn't stop playing it. Even their contribution to the Singles soundtrack, "Would?", I would play over & over to the detriment of hearing the rest of the album which is just as good. But, I don't think AIC's unplugged moment is one I'm going to be recommending highly, nor is it something I'm going to be repeatedly listening to. It's like the songs became stripped down & very personal, but lose all the feelings that I like about AIC. I like the swirling guitars, the jagged electric riffing, the texture. I lose so much of that here the songs don't grab me like their studio originals. Normally I get the feeling of darkness & personal demons from AIC, here for some reason it becomes more human & less super-human. The concert also feels like it lacks energy. Even with the bank joking it sounds more like they're going through the motions. It feels like a rehearsal rather than a show. Live came out after this & is a far more valuable recommendation & more properly reflects the band I want to hear & maybe others. This was AIC's first show in three years, which might have something to do with the feeling of the album, & sadly they would do only four more live shows before it was abruptly over. Some people rate this as one of the highest moments of the series. I think it doesn't get close to that rank. Maybe it ranks high because it's different, though different doesn't mean great otherwise Metallica's Lulu would be their climactic moment, or maybe it rates high because it was the first show in years & seems like a band not suited for the format. But, let me ask & answer honestly, if you had a choice of this or Dirt to buy/listen to over and over what would you choose?