Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies

Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies (30th Anniversary Vinyl Review)

There is often debate among Rock music lovers of who was the most impactful band during the ‘90s era. Some would say Nirvana, others Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, but a large portion would vote for Alice in Chains. Originally formed in 1987, Alice in Chains had something unique about them that appealed to not only the growing Alternative Rock base of the time, but also carrier over Heavy Metal lovers from the ‘80s. Additionally, Alice in Chains’ 1990 debut album Facelift preceded the release of Nirvana’s 1991 mega hit Nevermind, as well as Soundgarden’s 1991 breakout release, Badmotorfinger.

Something to take note of, by the time 1994 rolled around Alice in Chains had already rattled the modern Rock world not only with Facelift, but the epic follow up in 1992, Dirt. Cementing themselves as one of the best around, amidst everything, they even showed off a different side of their sound in acoustic based tracks. First doing so with the well-received 1992 Sap EP, grander success was found in 1994 with unmistakable Jar of Flies EP. Put on January 25th of 1994, this pivotal EP’s 30th anniversary is now celebrated with special re-releases in 2024.

Offered by Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, the 30th anniversary celebration of releases kicks off on March 22nd with plenty of options to offer. Breaking it all down, there is a standard black 12” vinyl release (available from all retailers), while the band’s official webstore also offers a number of D2C variants of Jar of Flies. Many to mention, these special editions include a tri-colored vinyl, cassette, a clear variant with “flies” embedded in the vinyl, but also a deluxe box set featuring the EP on tri-colored vinyl, a logo-embossed jar with touch-activated red LED and faux flies, a 60-page hardcover book, and a double-sided poster, all housed in a screen-printed, UV coated shadowbox. Additionally, an exclusive merchandise capsule collection is available as well; featuring limited edition apparel, a poker set, a skate deck in collaboration with Welcome Skateboards, and a “Whale & Wasp” plush toy.

Plenty of goodies to invest in, it really all depends on your budget, and how much you are willing to spend. However, if you are looking for simply a chance to own Jar of Flies on vinyl – in case you missed prior – this is a perfect opportunity. Looking at the standard black 12” vinyl more closely, it offers Jar of Flies in remastered audio, matched with original artwork, plus a nice record sleeve complete with song lyrics. Simple, it is purely about the music and features superb sound clarity thanks to a heavy duty pressing.

Really all you need to know, as alluded to, the bottom line is that Jar of Flies is indeed a very important part of Alice in Chains’ history. For starters, like Sap, it illustrated the band’s aptitude to go in different directions; and this became more focused on the final Layne Staley studio album, 1995’s Alice in Chains. Moreover, it changed the way the world looked at the EP format; because Jar of Flies was the first EP ever to debut at No. 1 on Billboard 200. A factor not to overlook, since debuting over 30 years ago it has earned 4 times platinum status… cementing its place in Rock-n-Roll history forever. Truly a magical, focused collection of songs, Jar of Flies highlights of course include “No Excuses,” but also “Nutshell”; each which became standout performances of the also legendary 1996 Unplugged album. In fact, following the tragic passing of Layne Staley in 2002, “Nutshell” has sustained itself as one of the most striking, emotional Alice in Chains songs ever.

Thankfully, Alice in Chains continues to go strong in modern times with Guitarist/Vocalist Jerry Cantrell, Drummer Sean Kinney, Bassist Mike Inez, along with talented Vocalist William DuVall. However, we cannot deny the wound is still open for many when thinking about the loss of Layne Staley. Revisiting Jar of Flies may provoke a lot of emotion, but remind yourself that these songs are the legacy of greatness, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives the 30th anniversary release of Jar of Flies on vinyl 5 out of 5 stars. 

Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies 30th anniversary vinyl
Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies 30th anniversary vinyl / Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings

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