Depending on how you keep count, The Essential Alice in Chains
is the third or fourth attempt at an Alice in Chains compilation -- 1999 saw the box set Music Bank
and Nothing Safe
, a single disc of highlights from the three-disc retrospective, and 2001 brought the release of the slightly too skimpy Greatest Hits
. At two discs and 28 tracks, The Essential
falls somewhere between the fan-oriented excess of Music Bank
and the just-the-basics Greatest Hits
, offering all of the group's biggest songs -- not just singles like "Man in the Box," "Angry Chair," "Rooster," "No Excuses," and "Would?" but also album tracks like "Sea of Sorrow," "God Smack," "Hate to Feel," and "Dam That River" -- in a comprehensive overview of their career. While this may be a little bit too long for those listeners who only want AIC's grunge staples -- conversely, there are certainly a handful of songs that diehards might miss -- this is nevertheless the best-executed Alice in Chains compilation yet, functioning well as an effective summary and introduction to their too-brief, complicated career.