Rolling Stone (10/3/96, pp.71-72) - 3 Stars - Good - "...Some of the performances...hardly vary at all from the original studio versions....It's in the older material that the real changes go down...
Q (10/96, p.153) - 3 Stars - Good - "...the fourpiece add Scott Olson on guitar and reveal some exhilarating examples of pure songwriting....drug-induced demons made all the more scary because of the intimacy of the interpretations..."
Alice In Chains: Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell (vocals, guitar); Mike Inez (guitar, bass); Sean Kinney (drums).
Additional personnel: Scott Olson (guitar, bass).
Recorded at The Majestic Theater, Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Brooklyn, New York on April 10, 1996.
Alice In Chains: Jerry Cantrell, Layne Staley, Mike Inez, Sean Kinney.
Additional personnel: Scott Olsen.
Recorded on April 10, 1996.
UNPLUGGED isn't Alice In Chains' first unplugged record; it's just the first official, MTV-sanctioned one. The EPs JAR OF FLIES and SAP are both low-key, mostly-acoustic outings that achieved a similar vibe without the benefit of an MTV appearance. Which is to say Alice In Chains isn't jumping on a bandwagon here; they're doing more of something they do very well.
UNPLUGGED features acoustic versions of songs from every record in the Seattle band's catalog except its debut, FACELIFT. And it heavily features guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who wrote or co-wrote 12 of these 13 songs, including the previously-unrecorded "Killer Is Me." Cantrell's vocals pace that one along with "Heaven Beside You" and "Over Now." Lead singer Layne Staley, meanwhile, finds a fitting outlet here for his creaky voice, particularly as he tackles harrowing images of drug addiction in "Sludge Factory" and "Down In A Hole."