British singer/songwriter Seal has declared himself a huge fan of Alice In Chains, and explained exactly why the Seattle group are his favourite grunge band.
The 60-year-old London-born pop star reveals his fondness for Jerry Cantrell's band during the 800th episode of Amoeba Records' long-running online series What's In My Bag?, a feature which gives musicians/actors/sports stars/celebrities an opportunity to rifle through the record racks in the chain's West Hollywood store, and select albums (or films) which are particularly meaningful and special to them.
Clearly a man of taste, Seal pulls out some inarguably classic albums - among them Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Déjà Vu, Kate Bush's Hounds Of Love, David Bowie's The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars and Stevie Wonder's Innervisions - and adds the 30th anniversary edition of Alice In Chain's 1992 masterpiece Dirt to his pile. Revealing that his introduction to Alice In Chains' music came via hearing Man In The Box from the group's debut album Facelift, Seal goes on to explain exactly why the group resonate so powerfully with him.
"This band were really significant for me, because when I left England at the beginning of my career, grunge had just kicked off," he recalls. "I remember coming to Los Angeles and being in a cab, and talking to the driver, and we got talking about music. And he said, "Well what kind of music do you like? What are you interested in?' I said, well I'm I'm really curious about this grunge thing, I really like it. And he said, 'Who are the bands?' I said I love Nirvana, of course, and I like Pearl Jam, and he said, 'Oh they're cool, have you heard of this band called Alice In Chains?' I went, well, no, and he put on Man In The Box and that was it."
"I heard Layne's voice, Layne [Staley] and Jerry [Cantrell] singing together with those close harmonies, and so out of that whole grunge period they were by far, by far, my favuorite. And I think the most underrated, Alice In Chains."
Looking at the vinyl copy of Dirt in his hands, Seal continues, "There were some great songs on here, the obvious one being Rooster, which Jerry wrote about his father coming home for Vietnam."
"I love the artisty obviously," he says, "but there's a real sexiness to their music: it's dark, it's beautiful, it's melancholic but it's really sexy. And it's it's weighty. They had something - of all those other bands from that grunge era - they had something truly unique: like they had a soul, almost like an R&B type soul, even though it didn't sound like R&B, [they had] that guttural soul as opposed to just kind of being in your head, hence headbanger. They had stuff that got you right down here [indicates pit of the stomach].
"I'm a big fan of of Alice in Chains," Seal concludes, "and Layne's voice and his approach. God rest his soul."
Watch the full What's In My Bag? interview with Seal below: