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“If You Hear Alice in Chains on the Radio Today There’s about a 100% Chance it’ll Be ‘Man in the Box'”

Alice in Chains is a band firmly embedded in the “grunge” movement, what with their birthplace of Seattle, their hard, distorted and damaged approach to radio rock and of course their late singer departed by bout with hard drugs. As such, they stake their claim to music that is naturally POPULAR, in fact even deliberately favoring bombastic, theatrical drama over distinct stylistic forays.

Now, I know it’s been a while since rock was the most popular genre on the radio (we’re talking pre-Limp Bizkit, to be exact). But “Man in the Box,” the band’s first single, is still a pretty frequent radio nugget, rightly so vis-a-vis its signature, chugging grunge “stomp” that all but set the blueprint for Metallica’s commercial breakthrough (1). This one dude on my Facebook feed even shared “Man in the Box” on Christmas fu##ing day. It’s like great, I’m glad Big Brother’s approved “Man in the Box.” Hey, it could be worse. We could still be hearing “Check My Brain” (2) (3).

Well anyway I remember the days when The Bear would play “No Excuses” — the electric version but still a prime, cathartic slab of alternative rock that pretty much everyone could agree on. “Down in a Hole” is a classic, timeless number and “Over Now” is stupefying in its riffy splendor and noxious, dangerous emotion. As for any further AIC research goes, I need to check with the Ministry of Thought as to the legality of these things. I mean, I’m hardly in the right garb.

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(1) Interestingly Primus should get some of the credit for galvinizing this style on “Too Many Puppies” from Frizzle Fry.

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(2) In general that sans-Layne Staley reincarnation of the band desperately called for an undertaker.

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(3) That riff in “Check My Brain” kind of reminds me of the run on Joe’s Garage that’s supposed to be making fun of a band that specializes in eighth-grade caliber virtuosity.

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