Alice In Chains "Live Facelift" (2016 Black Friday RSD EP)
Alice In Chains' Live Facelift is a six-song live EP recorded on December 22, 1990 at the Moore Theatre in Seattle, WA. This concert took place shortly after the release of the band’s 1990 debut album Facelift, and about one year before the enormous success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam turned Seattle grunge rock into a worldwide phenomenon. (In fact, the then-unknown Pearl Jam was actually the opening act at this gig, although their name at the time was Mookie Blaylock). Before it was released in this vinyl EP format on the Black Friday Record Store Day in 2016, limited to 5,000 numbered copies, Live Facelift had previously been issued in 1991 only as a VHS home video cassette, which is now out of print.
Although this concert recording holds major interest because of the presence of deceased frontman Layne Staley, Live Facelift is also a good showcase for the rest of the band. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell, original bassist Mike Starr (who also passed away, in 2011), and drummer Sean Kinney all show focused playing and chemistry throughout this set. Staley is also in mostly good form; there is little about his performance during this set (except for the lyrics of “Real Thing”) that suggests the way his drug addiction problem would soon degrade his ability to perform – not to mention that it would lead to his death in 2002.
The music of the Facelift studio album was a more straightforward type of Zeppelin-derived metal than the band would explore on its later works, and it was not a very far cry from the type of late-‘80’s hair-metal that grunge would soon displace. These live versions are faithful to the album originals, but are rawer in this setting. The sound quality of the recording is very good. The set opener “It Ain’t Like That” was omitted from the original VHS issue, but is included on the vinyl EP. It’s certainly not lacking in quality, as it showcases the band’s early chemistry just as well as the other tracks. “Man In The Box” – which has become the best known song from the Facelift album – was probably considered to be a better choice as an opening track for the home video presentation. Although all six of the songs are well-played by the band, “Sea Of Sorrow” is a particular standout, and “Bleed The Freak” is notably better than its studio version. In audio or visual form, Live Facelift is a telling snapshot of Alice In Chains performing in their early, hungry stage, just a few short years before drug problems would derail their career.
Notes on the VHS version: The concert is presented in black-and-white film. The video cassette also contains the official promo videos for the Facelift album’s three singles: “We Die Young”, “Man In The Box”, and “Sea Of Sorrow”.
Alice In Chains “Live Facelift” VHS (SMV Enterprises 14V-49081) 1991
1. Man In The Box
2. Real Thing
3. Love, Hate, Love
4. Sea Of Sorrow
5. Bleed The Freak
6. We Die Young (video)
7. Man In The Box (video)
8. Sea Of Sorrow (video)
Alice In Chains “Live Facelift” EP (Columbia/Legacy 88985374931) 2016
1. It Ain't Like That
2. Man In The Box
3. Real Thing
4. Love, Hate, Love
5. Sea of Sorrow
6. Bleed The Freak