Written By: Sheila Esmaili-Doki
It is strange to realize that April 5 marks fifteen years since the death of Layne Staley, the tremendously talented, iconic vocalist for Alice in Chains and Mad Season. His sound is easily identifiable, and certainly inimitable — and though mediocre moments were far and few between for the extraordinary Staley, some of his performances are especially remarkable.
(5) “Rain When I Die” – from Dirt by Alice in Chains. Wonderful harmonies with Jerry Cantrell in the verses, and an insanely powerful chorus showing the absolute raw strength of Staley’s voice.
(4) “Wake Up” – from Above by Mad Season. The haunting opener of Above never quite loses its magic. ‘Goosebump-evoking’ is certainly an understatement in this case.
(3) “Man in the Box” – from Facelift by Alice in Chains. While the phenomenally catchy guitar riff plays a huge role in the success of one of Alice’s hugest hits, Staley’s massive voice in the chorus here deserves tons of attention. Even some of the most gifted vocalists in rock the history of rock and metal music sound like a fool trying to sing “Man in the Box.” Staley sounds perfect… effortlessly.
(2) “Nutshell” – from Jar of Flies by Alice in Chains. The most heartbreaking, plaintive, emotive — yet in many ways, the most simple song of Alice in Chains’ entire discography… “Nutshell” is as stunning as it is gloomy, thanks in no small part due to the beautiful layers of feeling in Staley’s words and voice here.
(1) “Love, Hate, Love” – from Facelift by Alice in Chains. Dark, harrowing, intense. The agony in Staley’s vocals is palpable, gut-wrenching, chilling to the bone. This is the epitome of the most wondrous, gorgeously tormented vocals possible, and a perfect example of Staley’s timelessness.
Did we leave something out? What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.