Episode II: Sap
After the tour for their debut Facelift
, Alice in Chains went into the studio to record demos for what was going to be their follow-up. As it happened, they wrote 5 predominantly acoustic tracks instead, but only chose to release them after drummer Sean Kinney, strange as it may seem, had a dream about releasing an EP called Sap
. Deciding ‘not to mess with fate’, the band’s first EP was released in early 1992, more than a year after Facelift
, and indeed entitled Sap
Sap’s Alice in Chains was:
- Layne Thomas Staley (R.I.P.) ~ Lead Vocals, Drums on Love Song
- Jerry Fulton Cantrell ~ Lead Guitar, Vocals, Bass Guitar on Love Song
- Michael Christopher Starr ~ Bass Guitar, Lead Guitar on Love Song
- Sean Howard Kinney ~ Drums, Percussion, Piano and Megaphone on Love Song
- Mark Arm (Mudhoney) ~ Vocals on Right Turn
- Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) ~ Vocals on Right Turn
- Ann Wilson (Heart) ~ Vocals on Brother
, Am I Inside
and Love Song
saw Alice in Chains taking a more softly emotional road, and that turned out very well indeed for the band. The EP features two tracks that can be accounted to their best work. Opener Brother
is a strongly moody, almost melancholic, touching piece, and immediately showcases the entirely different sound the band applies with Sap
. Got Me Wrong
, about the rift of misunderstanding between the two sexes, is a bit more upbeat, and features a little electric guitar that, along with its chorus, makes for a less moody but more powerful outing than its predecessor.
The EP’s other half consist of less compelling, but equally worthy songs. The shortest tune Right Turn
contains vocals from both Mark Arm and Chris Cornell, the latter more dominant and impressive that the former, and is a very enjoyable track despite being the simplest offering on Sap
. Am I Inside
is slightly slower, and dreamier than most of the band’s other work, highlighted by Staley’s very fitting vocal work, once again excellently harmonized with Wilson’s, who has the strongest presence on the latter of her three contributions.
Then you’ve also got the quirky joke track Love Song
, of course, in which the band switches usual arrangements: Staley drums, Cantrell plays bass and Starr guitar, while Sean Kinney is the main man behind the song with his eclectic piano work and megaphone shouts. Fun track, of course, but not an addition to the album’s actual work.
All that makes up for a mere 20 minutes of music, which is perhaps even short for an EP, but 4/5 of the material is interesting enough to forgive the length. Alice in Chains’ new direction certainly bore some damn fine fruit, and the acoustic work is almost, if not equally strong as the band’s heavier side. Though the sound they pioneered here would be perfected on Jar of Flies
, what would come next would be quite a different affair, one even heavier than Facelift
Got Me Wrong
To be continued...