"Alice In Chains" debut album "Facelift" was released on August 21, 1990 !!!
Do you realize how long it has been since this album was released?
It happened back when we were teenagers and even though it's been so long, every time we listen to this album we feel like snub-nosed teenagers again.
No matter how many reviews we write, it always surprises us how music is an eternal, timeless thing !! And now while we are writing about this amazing album there is a scene from the series "Dark" (Netflix) in the background. The strong message in the series is that you can not stop time, no matter how much you try to change the past, present, or future, time always keeps running, in music, however, once the needle goes down on the record or when we push play, it just like time stands still...
Well, back to our subject...
In 1988 the members of "Alice In Chains" released a demo called "The Treehouse Tapes" that was shared among radio stations, it finally rolled into the hands of agents Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver who at the time managed a new band called "Soundgarden". The two transferred the demo to "Colombia Records" which hurried to sign the band on a recording contract (1989).
Since at that time all record companies wanted to mine some "gold" in Seattle, "Alice In Chains" became Colombia Records' top priority. They pushed the band members to Seattle's famous studio "London Bridge Studio" and urge them to begin recording their debut album.
In order to promote the album, "Columbia" released the band's first EP called "We Die Young". The EP was intended to promote "Alice In Chains" with the single "We Die Young" and contained two more songs: "It Ain't Like That" and "Killing Yourself".
Among the radio stations "Alice In Chains" was initially perceived as a pure Heavy Metal band, but apparently, under the influence of Glam and Hair Metal, they claimed that Layne Staley's low voice was not suitable for Heavy Metal and that he needed a high voice. Of course, the band members and the record company completely ignored the criticism, but those who buried it were the fans. The single became so popular that "Columbia" saw the big money flow in and decided not to postpone the release date of the album and release it on August 21, 1990.
With the song "We Die Young" the album created waves of love from fans, the song "Man In The Box" has already drugged everyone and made them addicted to the heavy sound, harsh lyrics, melodic singing, and vocal harmonies of Layne and Jerry Cantrell. Jerry said that here, exactly in this song, the band found its musical direction, and it was what made Alice what it is!
The album is almost entirely written by Jerry and in terms of lyrics, it touches on topics like drugs, his mother's death, censorship, "we against the world" and more. Out of the album came a number of other immortal songs that greatly influenced the music world at the time and set the tone for the big news that will come out of Seattle shortly thereafter.
"Bleed The Freak" that explodes on you after the mesmerizing intro, the hypnotic "Love Hate Love", "It Ain't Like That" with the heavy and twisted riff that blends in amazingly with Layne's voice and more...
Upon its release, the album was not very successful and sold only tens of thousands of copies in the first six months. But once MTV came into the picture everything changed. "Alice" released a music video for the song "Man In The Box", the MTV channel adopted the clip and put it into heavy rotation, and then the "picture" looked completely different. Immediately after the release of the music video, the album sold 400,000 copies in just six weeks !! This is the first album of the grunge scene to enter the top 50 of the Billboard 200 chart as it occupies 42nd place.
The album also received a Grammy nomination for "Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal" but lost to "Van Halen".
Even the Prince of Darkness in his own right Ozzy Osbourne has crowned it among his 10 favorite metal albums.
And if you were wondering about the album cover, and we're sure you were wondering whose distorted face on the cover is?
So we'll tell you that photographer and director Rocky Schenck wanted to present the band members as if they were born or hatched out of something, to illustrate their birth on the debut album. He tried several options, one of which was when the band members' faces came out of a pool covered with a plastic sheet. After three days of filming and many hours of editing the end result was bassist Mike Inez's face distorted in black and white. Finally, Rocky decided to use color and turned it into a colorful one. After the band members saw the end result they decided to give the album the name "Facelift".
Finally, we wanted to bring you some more interesting facts about the album:
- Drummer Sean Kinney broke his arm during the recording of the album and hardly played in it. The band enlisted Greg Gilmore's drummer from "Mother Love Bone" to replace him during the recordings. Sean explained to Greg how to play, but after a few tries the two realized it was not going to work, the band took a break and Sean's hand had meanwhile improved significantly. When they returned to the studio he simply tore the cast and recorded the album with a bucket of ice next to him to relieve the pain.
- The song "Man In The Box" was influenced by "Bon Jovi" and especially the song "Livin 'on a Prayer" taken from the album "Slippery When Wet". Jerry uses the Talk Box effect that Richie Sambora also used.
- At the end of the last song on the album, "Real Thing" Layne shouts the phrase "Sexual chocolate, baby!". The sentence is taken from the name of a fictional band from the movie "Coming to America" in which Eddie Murphy plays.