Facelift was released 25 years ago this week. There is some discrepancy as to the exact date, though. Media reports say it was on August 21, but the RIAA database of gold and platinum records has the release date as August 24. (I ran into this discrepancy while doing research for my book, and ultimately went with the RIAA’s date. If anybody can explain this discrepancy or knows the definitive answer, please contact me)
Although Alice in Chains wasn’t the first Seattle grunge band to form or sign a record deal (those distinctions go to Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone. I’m not counting Nirvana here because they were from Aberdeen), they were the first breakout band from that scene. Nirvana’s Nevermind is the event that is burned into the collective conscious, but history shows Alice in Chains were the first ones out of the gate. Facelift was released in August of 1990, after which the band went into a heavy touring schedule that would last almost through the end of 1991. Jerry Cantrell estimated the album had sold some 40,000 copies before MTV gave the “Man in the Box” video its coveted Buzz Bin status and heavy rotation on the network in May of 1991. Facelift was certified gold – for sales in excess of 500,000 copies – in September of that year. Pearl Jam’s Ten was released in August, Nevermind was released in September, and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger was released in October. Alice in Chains opened the door for the Seattle music scene, but Nirvana and Pearl Jam were the ones who blew it wide open.
Beyond the historical significance of the album, its age means that the band is now eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.