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3.96 | 37 ratings | 4 reviews
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EP · 1994

Filed under Non-Metal


1. Rotten Apple (6:58)
2. Nutshell (4:19)
3. I Stay Away (4:14)
4. No Excuses (4:15)
5. Whale & Wasp (2:37)
6. Don't Follow (4:22)
7. Swing On This (4:04)

Total Time 30:51


- Layne Staley / lead vocals
- Jerry Cantrell / guitar, vocals
- Mike Inez / bass, additional vocals
- Sean Kinney / drums, percussion

- David Atkinson / harmonica (track 6)

About this release

January 25, 1994

Thanks to Pekka, Lynx33, UMUR, adg211288, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

I had heard about Alternative Rock back in the day but it wasn't until i saw PEARL JAM on Saturday Night Live that i actually "heard" it for the first time. Man i was impressed with that band. ALICE IN CHAINS was an easy band to like too. That heavy but catchy sound that was so atmospheric. And there was something dark about them. I picked this EP not long after it came out after hearing "I Stay Away" on the radio. I remember taking this down to Florida back then and playing it on the beach alot. Not exactly a good time in my life but that was a positive memory. A lot of ALICE IN CHAINS fans didn't think much about this EP because it suffered a power loss. It wasn't an unplugged EP by any means but the heaviness was all but removed. Some interesting variety on this one too from the almost Folkish/Country styled "Don't Follow" with harmonica to the Jazz flavoured "Swing On This" to the more laid back tunes like "Rotten Apple" and "Nutshell". For me though the best track is "No Excuses" which just moves me for some reason. I've never tired of that one. "I Stay Away" is another killer tune with some orchestration. "Whale & Wasp" is melancholic with strings. Nothing less than 4 stars will do for this interesting and reflective release.
Alice In Chains continues what has been a rather successful pattern of releases: heavy studio album (Facelift), unplugged and mellow EP (Sap), back to a heavy full-length (Dirt), and once again a more laid-back EP with Jar Of Flies.

As a bass player myself, I am impressed by Mike Inez on his first album with the band. His playing in particular on “Nutshell” and “No Excuses” is very tasteful and compliments the songs to great effect. Opener “Rotten Apple” sounds like it was written around Inez’s repeating riff. Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell share lead vocal duties as they often do, with their voices meshing the greatest on “I Stay Away” and “No Excuses”. “No Excuses”, which also features rather inventive drum patterns by Sean Kinney, and “Nutshell” are my personal favorites on this EP.

I like the Cantrell-lead tune “Don’t Follow”, which has a slight western vibe with Layne’s somewhat twangy backing vocals and nice use of harmonica courtesy of guest David Atkinson. It sounds like a more appropriate closing track than “Swing On This”. Much like the fifth track on Sap, “Swing On This” comes across as more of a novelty song (though much less extreme than the so-called "Love Song"). At least it sounds like they had a blast playing it, and at least they didn’t hide the track this time ‘round :).

A great release by Alice In Chains, though I’d give Sap a slight edge as the superior EP.
Following the Dirt world tour Alice in Chains did what they had done between their last two albums: holed up in the studio with acoustic guitars and a couple of other gadgets to have some pressure-free fun. The seven songs eventually released as Jar of Flies were composed and recorded during one seven day session in late 1993.

Exactly like the Sap EP two years previously, the material on Jar of Flies is composed and built on acoustic instruments and flavored by electric spices. The band had switched their bassist Mike, sacking Starr and hiring Inez, and the newcomer starts contributing right away having co-written four of the seven songs. Much like Iron Maiden's introduction of Nicko McBrain on Piece of Mind, AiC introduces Mike Inez with the brilliant bass pattern starting Rotten Apple. On top of his acoustic bass Jerry Cantrell adds his talk box guitar and while that seems like an unnatural pair in the end Rotten Apple is one of AiC's finest pieces ever.

And not the only good one here. The next three tracks Nutshell, I Stay Away with its great string arrangement and No Excuses with a quirky drum pattern by Sean Kinney are all top notch pieces of work. After them the quality drops a bit, but the beautiful instrumental - the only one they've ever recorded - Whale & Wasp and the half-Jerry half-Layne sung Don't Follow are solid pieces both. The closer I-might-look-like-shit-but-I'm-OK-so-leave-me-be groove piece Swing on This doesn't really fit among the other more subdued songs and is quite a disappointing closer after such a great string of songs. Not bad at all, just a bit too different and not quite as good.

One of my favourite EPs ever and an important counterpart to their heavier electric albums. Absolutely recommendable.

Members reviews

Silver Shade of Lead
After AIC's acclaimed powerhouse release that was Dirt, the band turns for yet another EP, driven by a whim for the accoustic settings and a need to explore a quiet angst of sorts. Without any less than a surprise, this intimate and honest conception breaches through to number one on the billboards, a first time event for an EP. And speaking of firsts, it was also the first AIC release featuring Mike Inez on bass.

Jar of Flies boasts on intricate melodies and string interaction, uncanny instrumental addendums to their style and sound, pieced in some of their finest production work. However described as their lightest effort, it is also their emotionally darkest album, by some.

Rotten Apple starts the album with Inez' promising prowess o bass, on a great hook to set the song for Jerry's crystal tone. A true flag for the soursweet nature of the entire record, it's brilliantly juxtaposed by the contrasting acrimony of Layne's vocals and a talkbox trailing the guitar work.

Nutshell follows through, in yet another accoustic piece for a beautifully atmospheric sense of dole. An apparently more straightforward track, though much, much richer in emotive darkness.

I Stay Away brings forth additional motion and sweeping string sections to the sound.

No Excuses, aside from the finest AIC percussive moment, is the ultimate hit, an easygoing, accessible song; but in the land of contrasts that is Jar of Flies, it also bears brooding, bittersweet lyrics.

Whale & Wasp, Jerry's instrumental track, featuring accoustic picking and good 'ol Cantrell effects on the electric guitar.

Don't Follow and Swing On This end the album with a western country feel to them, a Mark Twainish vibe, espcially on Don't Follow with the use of the harmonica.

All in all, a great piece of work, showing a versatile, complex and all together creative band that Alice in Chains can be, even outside it's deep metal rootings. A definite must have in your AIC collection.

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