The guitarist and one of the guiding forces behind troubled Seattle band Alice In Chains, Cantrell’s solo releases have confirmed his reputation as one of the most talented songwriters to emerge from the 90s grunge scene.
Despite the success of 1990’s Facelift and 1992’s Dirt, Alice In Chains’ career was bedevilled by lead vocalist Layne Staley’s personal problems. By the mid-90s, Staley’s substance abuse had grown so problematic that Alice In Chains were unable to complete a full tour.
After finishing work on the band’s 1995 self-titled release and an MTV Unplugged session, Cantrell set about recording material for his own solo album. He contributed a song to the soundtrack of The Cable Guy and then released Boggy Depot in spring 1998. The album’s stand-out track, the jazz-inflected closer "Cold Piece’" featured lyrics that many critics felt were aimed directly at Cantrell’s errant bandmate "Give up, go away/He’s not yours to save").
Cantrell promoted the album by touring as opener for Van Halen, before returning to Alice In Chains in an attempt to resurrect their career. After completing work on two compilation sets, the only new product to emerge from the Alice In Chains camp, Cantrell returned to his solo career.
He recorded his debut for Roadrunner Records with the help of Ozzy Osbourne’s rhythm section, drummer Mike Bordin and bass player Robert Trujillo. Shortly before the album was due to be released, Staley’s body was found dead in his apartment. Degradation Trip was released.
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