Alice in Chains: Jar of Flies EP (30th Anniversary Reissue) (Columbia/Legacy) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Alice in Chains

Jar of Flies EP (30th Anniversary Reissue)


Apr 16, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Despite all the grunge and bluster across its catalog, Jar of Flies might be Alice in Chains’ defining work. After touring its breakthrough album, Dirt, Alice in Chains went back into the studio, anxious to get away from the noise and ended up redefining its legacy in the process. Both written and recorded in a week (let that sink in—the band had no songs completed going in, everything was composed and recorded on the fly). And what Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Inez came up with turned heads, going on to be certified four times platinum and reimagining what ‘90s grunge could represent.

One may point to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York as the definitive landmark of grunge redefining itself, but time may have forgotten that Alice in Chains got there first. Jar of Flies was released on January 25, 1994. Nirvana’s unplugged performance was not released until November 1 of the same year. Not to mention that Jar of Flies was the second time Alice in Chains approached such an acoustic conceit. More than seven months before Dirt, it did the same with its Sap EP, an acoustic masterwork that took a left turn from the band’s previous material. It’s just that by the time of Jar of Flies, the band was worldwide, superstars.

Reissued now, 30 years later, Jar of Flies hits with the same immediacy as it did in 1994. From “Rotten Apple” through “Nutshell,” “I Stay Away” with its orchestral backing, “No Excuses,” the Cantrell instrumental “Whale & Wasp,” the iconic “Don’t Follow,” and the idiosyncratic closer “Swing on This,” there is no fat on Jar of Flies. Seven songs, created on the spot and thrown into the universe just four months after they were recorded, the EP is a testament to how a band at the absolute peak of its powers could pull an about face and not only simply destroy the status quo but expand its reach into the stratosphere at the same time. Grunge would never be the same. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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