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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 27 March 2005
This is a very special album. MTV's unplugged series continues with the band that seemed very unlikely to lend itself to this format.

Strip away the production, special effects and heavy instrumentation of the albums and suddenly the mastery of Alice in Chains music is laid bare. This album is easily as surprising and involving as the Nirvana Unplugged session. It certainly is not as viceral as most of the studio albums and reflects most closely the Sap EP, it is however as loaded with angst, frustration and pain as the original album recordings, if not more so.

It has been said on another review that Layne was drugged up to the eyeballs to do this recording, this problem was an issue throughout his career and eventually (and sadly) took his life. His off stage lifestyle and depresive mindset coloured his music and is a big part of why AIC's music was so heartwrenchingly effective. This live set is no different to that of the albums in that sense.

This session in my opinion, like that of Nirvana MTV appearence, affirms the bands mastery of songcraft and is a fitting tribute to a fine singer/songwriter whos music will live on in the powerful and classic albums that he left behind.
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on 30 December 1999
It genuinely is a shame that Alice In chains were dogged with the 'grunge' label in the early 90's when their music was deeper, more esoteric and basically better than the kings of the grunge movement at that time, mainly Nirvana and Pearl Jam. When looking at the MTV unplugged performances of both aforementioned bands in comparison with Alice In Chains, they fade without a trace. Despite the Pearl Jam performance being loose and steeped in atmosphere, the sound and execution of the songs was somewhat weak despite Eddie Vedder's trademark passion. Nirvana's performance was better, there was a good, warm atmosphere and Kurt Cobain was in a surprisingly good mood. The fact that the set list consisted of many covers to hide the fact that they didn't have enough suitable material is indicative of how out of place they were and the band's looseness looked amateurish. The punk rock ethic of sloppiness in the setting of a folk concert are not very compatible as their performance proved. Alice In Chains unplugged is a stark contrast to both of these bands, their modesty was a change from the hype and commercial excess that followed the two aforementioned grunge pioneers. It is an intangible moment in time and music that has been encapsulated and embraced on this record. The sound is warm, sonorous, colourful and sparkling, Layne Staley's voice is deep, trembling and emotional and the band's performance is so damn tight that when the songs are being played you would think that they are straight from a studio recording. From the very first opening chords of 'Nutshell' at the start of the album you realise that you are in for something very, very special, if the chords of this song are emotive and heart- wrenching, then the chords of the following song 'Brother' will surely bring tears to your eyes. Of all of the songs i have heard in my lifetime, never has any song had the melancholic beauty of 'Brother', it is a simple three chord stucture, but it sounds like nothing else i have heard before... Following these two songs is rollercoaster of emotions and moods, from the uptempo exubernace of 'No Excuses' and 'Over Now' to the dark, twisted sound of 'Frogs' as well as all the best singles including 'Would' and 'Down In a Hole'. The album remains perfectly flawless.
Not only a landmark in the band's career and the rock music genre, but a landmark in music itself.
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on 2 February 2002
For my money this is a better album than Nirvana's unplugged CD. Where Nirvana might have been about timeless songs, Alice in Chains were about catharsis. Be it through the unrelenting narcotised grind of Dirt to the softer atmospherics of the Jar of Flies EP, AIC is a band which shoots it's messsage deep into your heart. Unplugged is mainly compiled of material off their recent eponymously titled album, packaged by a sleeve featuring a three legged dog. However it is here, despite some superb bluesy guitar playing from Cantrell, that Singer Layne Staley excels.Songs like 'Down in a Hole' and 'Angry Chair', songs which slayed audiences with their power now leave the listener aching in the darkness the band creates. The music is bleak, opiated and haunting but above all darkly and oppressively beautiful. It is hard to transfer into words the effect this album will have on you if you are in pain, but if your should buy it anyway, just to know how it feels.
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on 10 November 2007
...that alice in chains songs dont rely that heavily on distortion and effects. This is the stripped down, acoustic 'greatest hits' of alice in chains. Listenable from start to finish, with several songs like 'no excuses' and 'down in a hole' sounding deeper and more thought provoking than their album counterparts.

A Very good buy.
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on 22 November 2014
Alice In Chains is a band that has broken down a number of barriers since their inception and this is no exception. The songs translate to the acoustic format better than most people would think and are awe inspiring to say the least. Layne's vocals are soulful and tuneful, his vocal delivery is flawless and has an in born sadness to them. Jerry Cantrel's and Scott Olsen's guitar work is stunning and flawless. Mike Inez's bass work is perfectly adapted to the acoustic delivery of these songs and Sean Kinney's drumming is flawless to boot. The most surprising aspect of this live show are the vocal harmonies that are delivered effortlessly by the entire band. The production is amazingly clear and every instrument and voice is crystal clear. This album may not be for the average "Metal-head" but as a music fan I find this album indispensable and truly amazing.
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on 2 May 2016
This is a great cd. The band were at the height of their powers when it was recorded and they absolutely aced it that night.
Other official live releases are available and they're great too but this seems to be the one I keep coming back to.
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on 15 February 2014
Unplugged was a big thing in the 1990s- Along with Alice in Chains, a whole host of bands including Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots were into doing it. But this show was extra special- MTV actually did the near impossible and got Layne Staley to perform live with AIC for the first time in 2 and a half years.

Because of this the expectations were low- many thought Staley would be rusty- like hell. Coming on stage, Staley proved what a magnificent and underrated singer he was with the music stripped down. Because that's what unplugged did- it always revealed how great a singer was. Fans may feel sad at the appearance of Staley who looks ill and frail through his drug addiction. But he still looks like the coolest cat on the street. An almost flawless performance. And one must give credit to the rest- Jerry, Mike and Sean.

'Brother' will give long standing fans chills- an essential purchase.
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on 7 December 2004
Alice In Chains Unplugged! Exactly what it says! if you've never heard of the unplugged series shame on you! its basicly bands and artists that do an acoustic live show! I saw this on mtv2! and was amazed by the quality of it! I had heard of alice in chains but songwise i had heard very little! this album blew me away! and i consider it to be one of the best i own! and should be owned by anyone who considers themselves a fan of rock and alternitive music! Down in a hole is an amazing song and is by far better unplugged! This album is just great from start to finish! and in my opinion better than the nirvana unplugged and i think the best cd in the unplugged series!
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on 14 June 2000
It is such a shame that Alice in Chains were always overlooked, compared to the overblown hype surrounding Nirvana. Nirvana were a good band, but never half as good as AIC. Staley, despite looking like he was going to die any minute, sang like an angel on unplugged. It speaks for itself that even with accoustic guitars, they put in a performance every bit as good as their studio albums, with that trademark heavy grind that's like having a wrecking ball swinging towards you! Buy this album and while your at it, go and buy AIC's entire back catalogue!
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on 18 August 2013
Have to say, this was recommended to me by a friend who said I would love it, but I was reluctant to buy it as I like Alice in Chains, but don't love them - I've always been a lazy listener of theirs.

One of my favourite live albums is Nirvana's Unplugged in New York - this live album is easily on a par:) It's actually one of the best live albums I've heard.

Even if you don't think you want this, you should buy it.
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