REMEMBERING LAYNE STALEY: “NO EXCUSES”
Layne Staley only recorded six studio albums in five years — and yet his inimitable voice influenced an entire generation of singers. To commemorate his death ten years ago, members of the MetalSucks staff will be discussing their favorite Staley performances throughout the day.
Frayed after massive touring for their blockbuster Dirt album, Alice In Chains entered a studio for a low-pressure session with new bassist Mike Inez, acoustic guitars, and no producer. What resulted was the predictably and pleasantly undercooked Jar Of Flies EP, an antidote to the ball-crushing weight of Dirt.
Though undertaken with no commercial expectations, Flies was released in 1994 and landed atop the album charts — one of only two EPs to do so. On it, Layne Staley despairs throughout his four songs for solitude and peace, but the Jerry Cantrell-penned “No Excuses” warmly pledges unwavering loyalty to an unnamed friend, no matter his choices and tragedies. We can’t conclude that friend is Staley, but a few years later, few could resist the urge to retrofit the smash single to the guy who spent most time since Flies in rehab, lost to hard drugs, or otherwise stunting the momentum of one of Earth’s best-loved rock bands.
And it might be a measure of Cantrell’s heart that “No Excuses” is a breezy jam marked by glistening suspended chords and a nimble Sean Kinney drum performance. Above all, its classic Staley-Cantrell harmonies are a gift to the doomed frontman, as, voice joined with his friend’s, he is forced to confront the love and acceptance that awaits him, the words “I love you anyway” trailing his lips as he begins his final descent.