Tuesday, 24 July 2007



Rooster is the centrepiece of the diamond of the Alice In Chains catalogue: Dirt. Coming with some kind of Vietnam war back story you are purposely led to believe that there are hidden depths to this epic, a meaning bigger and on a larger scale than most Alice In Chains songs. From the off the song carries itself in a distinctly looming manner that gives proceedings a very majestic feel held in captivation.

In Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell here were two very talented songwriters sitting comfortably in both metal and alternative rock circles/modes. Here were/are two players at the top of their game able to do things with their given instruments (voice and guitar) that truly sounded unique and served to make them stand out in a crowd of latecomers, chancers and wannabes. I don’t think you could go as far as to actually describe Alice In Chains as a grunge band but with them wearing the right clothes, talking about dark subjects and being the right place at the right time they definitely held a respectable stake in the era (they just lacked indie Sub Pop cred).

Not being an American it is kind of tough to get behind the sentiment and experiences being described in the song. When however Cantrell hits a power chord it easily resembles an explosion in anybody’s mind. That said in these with so much of being spent fighting a relatively invisible enemy in the Middle East it wouldn’t be too much of a reach to suggest that a whole new generation of “Rooster” types are waiting to retire in disgrace. With this in mind this song retains something of a topical edge, possessing as much meaning for some as did upon arrival in the early nineties.

Elsewhere on the disc is “Sickman” which was one of the more disorientating selections on Dirt, very dark and very druggy. Again as the song gets sucked up and put through some kind of desperate wringer it is the truly amazing vocal talents of Staley that come to the fore while the playing almost resembles some kind of psychedelic heavy metal.

The final track on the disc is “It Ain’t Like That” which was a song that actually appeared on their previous album Facelift and was probably most likely included here as it was a song the band were seen performing live onstage in the movie Singles.

At times this was definitely a great band.

Thesaurus moment: syndrome.

Alice In Chains
Columbia Records

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