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Jane's Addiction

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Before they did the "Relapse" tour, they released their first CD since they broke up, called "Kettle Whistle," that was mostly just live stuff and demos and some re-worked old songs.

 

Henry Rollins wrote the liner notes for the record, and I think he sums them up perfectly.  It's a little long, but a nice read.

 

Jane’s Addiction was one of the truly great bands. From a decade that will be remembered musically as the one that gave us new wave and all those hair bands, Jane’s was a stand-out whose records still deliver and whose shows are still talked about years later.

The band’s Warner Bros. efforts, “Nothing’s Shocking” and “Ritual De Lo Habitual”, are brilliant but in my opinion never captured the soul-expanding gift that the band delivered live. That being said, I think it would be hard for any band to capture such a brilliant thing in the studio. Jane’s was a band that needed to be seen to be heard to feel the full impact. The studio versions of the songs are great, but they’re nothing compared to what they became at a Jane’s Addiction concert when the songs mixed with the moment. A song like “Three Days” on record is a great piece of work, but when you were standing in front of the PA and those big chords pounded you after the drum jam, it was incredibly moving. It was a chapter of your life. Or, when the band stepped down on “Mountain Song”, it was a body shot. It was about as good as live music gets. There were moments like this all through Jane’s concerts. That’s why putting out this record is a damn good idea. It’s not a ticket to the show, but it’s a necessary document of one of the finest live bands there ever was. They came at you on several levels at the speed of sound. Hardcore, working-the-blvd. Ferocity, too hip surfer zen aloofness, drugged out stratospheric abandon, served up with an almost childlike naivete. Terrifying. Unifying. Riot-inciting. Easily more thought-provoking than any corny “message band” ever hoped to be. Jane’s Addiction pointed it out without pointing to it. In the blink of an eye, they made other bands seem outrageously unhip and outdated, like when the Wizard of Oz got his shit put in check. A threat to parents everywhere. Speaking of parents, the JA song “Ain’t No Right” has more stick-to-your-ribs insight than anything my father ever laid on me.

They used cliche in an almost traditional sense. But when Perry told the band to bring it down so he could say something to the audience boiling at his feet, he really did have something to tell them. It wasn’t some rap that he used every night. And the raps he laid on audiences were not sugar-coated. He already expected you to be smart, so he didn’t play down to you. He said some cool shit up there. At the same time, he had you in the palm of his hand. Sometimes he liked to push it. One night that comes to memory is Atlanta 1991 when the band had members of Ice-T’s Body Count come up onstage and play Sly Stone’s “Don’t Call Me Whitey, Nigger”. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t cool. It wasn’t meant to be.

The gigs, on the outside, had all the trappings of a big rock show. And it was, from the front row to the back. The lighting onstage was epic yet intimate. The stage was adorned with statues, candles and other artifacts pulled from who knows where. It was not thrown together. It was carefully sculpted and arranged. Whoever put it together had something in mind. They cared about you and they wanted to get you off. You felt that you were in on something really cool. If it was in a club or an open field, you never felt like you were being treated like a dummy.

The band was a great one to watch, Perry was the cool spaz stick man who looked like large shots of electricity were constantly passing through him. His voice, often distorted by effects, was part croon, part roar and always pure animal. The drummer, Stephen Perkins, was a pummeling blur of sticks and hair, his fluid power was truly astounding. The guitarist, Dave Navarro, is one of rock’s most exciting and gifted players – period. From sheer sonic apocalypse to pure heaven, he made it look effortless. And holding the whole thing down was Eric Avery on bass, solid yet not simplistic, Eric’s playing gave the band a crunch and wallop that never plodded, but ebbed and flowed.

As a cog in the major label machine, Jane’s Addiction had enough street credibility to be below it, talent enough to have the majors knocking at their door and enough smarts to remain above it, keeping their vision intact. Point is, they never got caught up in it, never became victims of it and never let their music suffer. You never felt stupid for wearing the shirt even after they scored a hit on MTV and the airwaves with “Been Caught Stealing”. A song about shoplifting with an accompanying video that had a man cross-dressing into a pregnant woman in order to be able to hide more stolen goods was definitely not the work of a band that planned on wading quietly into the mainstream.

By the fall of 1991, after headlining the very first season of Perry’s brainchild, Lollapalooza, the band called it quits in Hawaii. Band members went their separate ways, some into other bands and some into other things. All was cool but there was never any band that came along with that great chemistry and power to fill in a very needed link in the music food chain. Several bootleg cds of varying quality hit the market in the following years.

By now you can tell that I am a big fan of this band. You can kind of tell that they can’t do a whole great deal of wrong in my eyes. Maybe it’s a good thing that they didn’t stay together. Maybe it’s best that the band is a time and a place in your life that you can get to any time you hear the records. Maybe it’s not about longevity. Maybe it’s about giving it all you have and when you can’t do that anymore, just getting out and watching the damn thing fly off the cuff and explode instead of going down with it. Jane’s Addiction was one of the great ones of our time. You can disagree with me. You can say whatever you want. But you would still be wrong of course.

– Henry Rollins

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Never got right into them but a friend of mine was a big fan.

I bought the first album but the guy at the record store put "Live and Rare" in the case instead.

 

Had A Dad is a fucking great song.

 

I also really enjoyed Hard Charger, in fact the soundtrack to Howard Sterns Private Parts movie was/Is great.

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Awesome band but they would be even better without Perry Farrell. Who is a pretentious fag and sings like a goat. Dave Navarro can play guitar.

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Farrell always looked retarded to me.

 

I remember when Just Because came out, I thought it ruled and wanted to head the rest of that album. Then I listened to it. It was ass.

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Yeah, I can't tell you how psyched I was to hear the first new Jane's album in over a decade.   And I listened to it and was like "Huh.  OK."

 

I remember "Just Because" and "Superhero" but I can't remember any of the rest of it.  "Hypersonic" maybe?

 

Then their last album just a few years back, "The Great Escape Artist"....even worse.  I can't even remember a single song off it.  Totally bland.

 

They were very much like Guns in that they wrote ALL their stuff at once, before they were signed, and then they slowly released them over three albums.  So all of their best stuff was born in that crazy period of inspiration when they first got together.  And surely drugs helped a lot.

 

None of them did as well with their solo projects.  I personally liked Porno for Pyros but they never seemed to catch on with the public.  Averay and Navarro released an obscure album called "Deconstruction" in 1994 that I absolutely loved, but nobody ever heard it.  Avery then formed his own group called Polar Bear that had about three good songs.  Perry released a solo album or two over the years and they were utter shit.  Perkins plays drums with all kinds of people and had his own band too.   And don't forget Navarro joined the Chili Peppers for about a year, which I really liked, but nobody else thought they were a good fit, and the band doesn't play any material from that album at all anymore.  Navarro released his own solo album too, and there were only two or three good songs.

 

Perry is a total spaz, and he says a lot of gay shit, and he really can't sing (notice how he's constantly fiddling with his vocal effects on stage)......but he's a crucial part of the band.  It just isn't the same without him.

 

Actually, Deconstruction is probably the closest thing to Jane's without Perry....cause it was Dave Navarro on guitar and Eric Avery on bass and vocals.  They have an instrumental called "Iris" that was basically a Jane's leftover.

 

 

This was their only single...LA Song....it didn't take off.  I liked it though.

 

 

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Perry Farrel's voice sounds like a cheap kazoo.

 

I remember liking Porno For Pyros "Pets" a fair bit.

Im also one of the score of people who really liked One Hot Minute.

 

 

 

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I loved them too.

I could write a book on all my thoughts here, but I'll just start with a few in chronological order:

 

MTV News did a story on them on 1988. I think it was Tabitha Soren who read the story, but it could have been Kurt Loder.

Jane's were being promoted as the "next big thing (after Guns N' Roses), to come out of L.A."

 

I went out and bought Nothing's Shocking and was immediately converted.

I bought their first album, the self-titled live record.

I listened to the shit out of them.

The live album was a favorite of mine during acid trips. I still remember tripping to "Chip Away" —it is burned into my brain.

I even had the SOUL KISS movie on VHS which was very funny and weird.

 

Ha! it's on YT:

They made me want to get into Heroin. 

 

I saw them live in '89 before Ritual came out, and then again in '91 after.

 

The first time was at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ and it was my first time there, and my first real "club" show.

I had no idea what to expect, I had only seen big rock concerts at sports arenas. 

Trenton was shady at the time, and I was scared.

But we went, and of course it was a normal rock concert at a club, with a surprisingly sophisticated crowd.

Jane's being at the height of their powers, and it being my first club show (so intimate!) really had an effect on me, and I felt it was the best concert I had ever seen.
 

I was at work when someone brought in the advance cassette-single of "Stop" which was released ahead of their long-awaited new album Ritual de lo Habitual.

We stopped what we were doing at work to listen to it, and—it was fantastic!!! OMG that ending!! Jane's was back!

I was so pleasantly surprised, I had just assumed that their new album might be shit.

 

But, no, based on the 1st single, they were going to be better than ever.
The album was great! I consider the 1st 3 albums to be the Jane's Addiction Trilogy: their self-titled live album, Nothing's Shocking, and Ritual de lo Habitual

All 3 are of equal quality, but if I had to pick the best one, I might pick Ritual, especially the side 2 sequence of Three Days / Then She Did.

 

19910424_ticket_and_photo.jpg

 

Saw them again at Madison Square Garden in 1991.

Even in the big rock arena setting, they were awesome.

They played a great set—a nice mixture of all 3 albums.

If I remember correctly, the Happy Mondays opened.

 

The most notable moment for me is when they played "Been Caught Stealing" because it was actually topping the pop chart at the exact moment that I was there at MSG in NYC on a Saturday(maybe?) Night hearing a band play their biggest hit ever in real time, while it was probably playing at that exact moment in hundreds of FM radio stations all over the country. That may have been the first and last time that has ever happened to me, and the vibe in the crowd was something I had never felt before.

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5 hours ago, Doctor Dom said:

Im also one of the score of people who really liked One Hot Minute

I'm another. Great album. Criminally underrated.

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JB.....excellent post, thanks so much for sharing!

 

You're so lucky to have seen those shows, but I don't have to tell you that...you KNEW how special it was!

My favorite of the albums was definitely the Triple X Live Album, and in a very slight way, it was cause I first heard it while "tripping" too.  Well, not at all tripping, but I had borrowed the tape from a friend and I was listening to it for the first time on my walkman while falling asleep and I thought "hey this is really good" and I started losing consciousness somewhere around the "Rock n Roll/Sympathy" sequence and in that moment of twilight awareness, I felt like I was there in the songs. 

 

Ritual took longer for me to get into, cause the songs were more complex, but once I really became a fanatic, I realized that "Then She Did" is their best song.  Yes, "Three Days" gets more hype, and that's fantastic, but to me "Then She Did" was the real epic, the true gem.  It's basically their version of "Estranged" I think, where it takes you on this long journey and you don't know where it's going but that final blast of power at the end is such a payoff and then it's over and you're like "What just happened?"    The build up and pay off and the overall true emotion of the song is just the most powerful thing they've ever done, in my opinion. 

 

They played it in 97 when I saw them, and it would have been worth it to me to just see that one song, but thankfully we also got a mix of all three albums.  Chip Away was mesmerizing, with all three of the band members pounding on drums and Perry doing the effects on his voice.  I bet that shit would have been intense on drugs.

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OK, bear with me, cause this is a bit of a roundabout....

 

A few days ago Peter Fonda died, and I wasn't too upset cause I thought he died years ago, but he was in "Easy Rider" so he was an icon to a lot of people.

 

But I remember him most from Steven Soderbergh's 1999 masterpiece, "The Limey" where he plays this rich ass old man fucking this hot piece of ass 20 something.

 

And he gives this brief little speech about the 60s that was so perfect, cause it just utterly encapsulates The Boomers and their constant, narcissistic, self-fellating congratulating themselves of how amazing and wonderful and perfect the 60s were, and how perfect THEY were, and how like, you just had to BE THERE, maaaan......I love it cause he's just so smug and smarmy and it's just Boomer wank material:

 

 

 

And what I'm getting at is, that's what Jane's Addiction is to me.   I'm a Gen X-er smugly talking to myself in the mirror going...."Jane's Addiction at a sweaty packed club in 1991......you had to be there, maaan.   That was the 90s."

 

It must sound horribly pretentious to anyone younger than 37 but goddamn, we had some great fucking music in the 90s.  What a time to be young.

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I saw Porno for Pyros play a very short 40 minute headlining set in Northampton, Mass in '93? And the place nearly rioted when the gig ended at fucking 9:40pm or whatever. The beginning of the long, shit, slide

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I liked Porno for Pyros first album....but I LOVED their second album.  It was way trippier and weirder and just more out there.

 

I saw them in the fall of 96 I think...the second album had Dave on one of the songs so already the seed of returning to Jane's was already there.

 

But they played a mix of songs from both albums and the crowd was really into it, but they closed with "Mountain Song" and the crowd erupted.  So even then, I think Perry was realizing, "Hey, this P4P thing isn't exactly working out...maybe people really do want Jane's back."

 

And a few months later we get "Hard Charger," while credited to P4P is really a Jane's song.  And a year after I saw Porno, I'd be seeing Jane's on the Relapse tour.

 

Porno for Pyros was really short lived, but the second album really resonated with me.  I'd like to pick it up on vinyl someday.

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I'm not a big fan or anything. I saw them 6 years ago on a traveling festival with alice in chains. Met duff dizzy and fortus with their bands at the time too there

 

They put on a pretty bad ass set. Glad I saw them

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One more thing I gotta give credit to Perry for, is he seems like he really hasn't backed down to censorship, always fighting for the right to have his risque albums covers available.

 

One thing I really realized the other day is that the song "Whores" (which wouldn't even be allowed in today's PC-on-crack culture) features the opening lines:

 

"Way down low where the streets are littered,

I find my fun with the freaks and the niggers"

 

They've been playing this song, in all their incarnations, from 1986 right up until their most recent show in 2017. 

 

As far as I know, there's never been a controversy, he's never apologized, and he goes out and sings the song with that word every night and nobody seems to care.

 

Sure is a lot different from the old One in a Million "scandal" and the 20 years of backpedaling over it.

 

Perry just doesn't give a fuck.   Kinda like Quentin, although he gets a loooot of shit for it.

 

Oh....the dreaded "N WORD."   Oh, the worst possible combination of consonants and vowels that formed in human history.  It's fucking exhausting.

 

My man Louis CK put it best....(still one of the best living comedians of all time despite his little quirk of jerking off in front of people)

 

 

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Demos were much better than actual album. Thanks to, yes, you guessed it, fucking Ezrin. He turned it into Stadium Rock guff.

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