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Nothing Safe: The Best of the Box

Alice In Chains

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Album Review

Nothing Safe anticipated 1999's three-disc Alice in Chains box set, which covered the group's best songs and assorted rarities. Because Nothing Safe is ostensibly a sampler of the box, not the Alice in Chains back catalog, what at first glance looks like a comprehensive best-of is actually somewhat questionable. The package is not unattractive, since nearly all the hits are present in some form; also included are the new song "Get Born Again" and the better of the group's two contributions to the Last Action Hero soundtrack, "What the Hell Have I." The problem is that "present in some form" does not necessarily mean "original form." "Rooster" is included in a live version not present on the box, while a demo of "We Die Young" replaces the studio take, and the unplugged version of "Got Me Wrong" (which, granted, received more airplay) bumps the more effective arrangement from Sap. There's nothing really wrong with these versions of themselves; it's just that their selection seems designed to make this package incomplete, so that fans who want the original tracks will be forced to purchase three different original albums (and completists will still have to buy this for the exclusive version of "Rooster"). Fans who don't mind the substitutions will find this to be a strong introduction to the group — and it is a very impressive listen, making the case for Alice in Chains as one of the best metal bands of the '90s — but others will be frustrated by the crass marketing gimmicks marring what could have been a great, not merely good, best-of collection.

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In many ways, Alice in Chains was the definitive heavy metal band of the early '90s. Drawing equally from the heavy riffing of post-Van Halen metal and the gloomy strains of post-punk, the band developed a bleak, nihilistic sound that balanced grinding hard rock with subtly textured acoustic numbers. They were hard enough for metal fans, yet their dark subject matter and punky attack placed them among the front ranks of the Seattle-based grunge bands. While this dichotomy helped the group soar to...
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