Jane's Addiction, in its original incarnation (the late 80s - early '90s), was one of those bands that built a huge cult following but never reached the masses. Maybe they were better for it. With Perry Farrell (vocals), Eric Avery (bass, acoustic guitar), Dave Navarro (guitar) and Stephen Perkins (drums), Jane's Addiction plied Metal, Progressive Rock and Folk with a heady dexterity. Aside from the sprawling vistas provided by Navarro's guitar, Jane's Addiction was powered by Farrell's progressive lyrics. Never one to rehash Rock clichés, Farrell expanded the lyrical horizons taking shots at the current philosophical trends with "Pigs In Zen" or tapping into those moments that everyone has but can never articulate, "Standing In The Shower...Thinking." Both songs are on the group's premier effort "Nothing's Shocking."
Jane's Addiction formed in L.A. in the mid-80s as New Wave was in its death throes and Glam Metal was riding high (thanks to MTV). A self-tiled live album hit in '87 and was followed by "Nothing's Shocking" in '88. Two years passed before the release of their last studio album with the original line-up, "Ritual De Lo Habitual." Farrell launched Lollapalooza in '91 as a traveling festival. Ironically, it turned out to be Jane Addiction's farewell tour.
Farrell started Prono For Pyros who produced two albums and are best known for the tongue-in-cheek "Pets" ("we'll make great pets" meaning the human race). Narvarro joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In '97 the group re-formed with the Pepper's Flea on bass for "Kettle and Whistle" which contained unreleased material and new tracks. A tour followed. The group returned again in '03 amid much hoopla (a Rolling Stone article and Spin cover) with their album "Strays." Bassist Chris Chaney was the only non-original member.
Jane's Addiction was awarded the Godlike Genius Award for Extraordinary Services to Music at the first U.S. NME Awards in L.A. At the '08 ceremony, the original line-up performed for the first time since '91. Prior to the show Avery, a longtime holdout, expresses his enthusiasm. "I must admit that it has felt really good so far in both heart and mind." Yes, "Jane Says," probably the group's best known song, was on the set list.
Some club appearances preceded the group's '09 tour opening for Nine Inch Nails. As part of their preparations Jane's Addiction went into the studio to re-record "Chip Away" and "Whores." The songs were available as free downloads on the band's website. According to Farell the tracks were done "just to get some creative juice flowing."
"The thinking being that we wanted to give our longtime listeners something to celebrate the tour and "Whores" has always been one of the tracks that defined Jane's early on," added Navarro.
April, '09 saw the release of "A Cabinet Of Curiosities," a 3-CD/1-DVD box set featuring live performances and unreleased/rare tracks.
A month later, Farrell reported that Jane's Addiction had recorded two new songs ("Embrace The Darkness" and "I'll Protect You"). "I know we'll get back in there (the studio) and write some more," added Farrell.
But before that, Jane's Addiction embarked on a joint tour with Nine Inch Nails. The tour had mishap out of the gate. Farrell tore his calf muscle onstage in Atlanta during the concert's first song. He performed the rest of the set before he was taken to a hospital in an ambulance.
When Jane's Addiction returned to the studio things seemed to take a positive turn. "Duff McKagen from Guns N' Roses is in the band now, so we had a real creative burst over the past few months working with a new guy and having an all-new energy on board," said Navarro. "I'm really excited about it."
Well, after that over-the-top praise it was inevitable that McKagan wouldn't last - and he didn't. Citing creative differences, McKagan left. TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek signed on - though he still remained in TVOTR. "It's a completely different direction for Jane's Addiction," Navarro said. "However, it still sounds very much like Jane's Addiction."
Navarro called Sitek a "stabilizing force" in the studio. Drummer Stephen Perkins added that Sitek "opened up [his] eyes to a lot of new ideas as a drummer."
After all the turmoil, Jane's Addiction finally released their fourth studio set, "The Great Escape Artist." Bassist Chris Chaney, who had worked with the band previously, stepped in for Sitek when Jane's Addiction toured.
1988 Nothing's Shocking
1990 Ritual de lo Habitual
2011 The Great Escape Artist
"The future is now," could have been a Jane's Addiction marketing slogan. Many of the sounds, styles and subject matter now common place are first heard here. Clearly, Jane's Addiction found an audience among musicians, especially the next generation. Navarro, Avery and Perkins are an explosive unit capable of changing on a dime to further Farrell's lyrics. Two albums show the group's brilliance, "Nothing's Shocking" and "Ritual De Lo Habitual." "Shocking" has "Jane Says" but that's just the tip. The "oh come now" slam of mass murderer Ted Bundy on "Ted, Just Admit It" is worth the price admission. "Ritual" has the fiery speed Rocker "Stop" and the acoustic based- rhythmically irresistible "Been Caught Stealing."
While "Strays" is not on a par with "Shocking" or "Ritual" but it's still a great album and worthy of all the promotion that surrounded it. Opening with the cascading guitars of "True Nature" the album segues into the accessible groove of "Just Because." It's first single material all the way. The title track ponders the ability to "always find trouble." The threadbare topic broached in "Superhero" ("want to be your superhero") is a little weak but the song still packs some punch.
"End Of The Lies," the second track and lead single from "The Great Escape Artist" is a hard-edged Duran Duran pity party. Okay, it's a single so it should have a pop scent but it's hardly worth an eight year wait. However, the heavy set opener "Underground" is.
"I'll Hit You Back" and "Twisted Tales" would work on the soundtrack of a spy thriller. "Curiosity Kills" is just plan spooky. The ballad "Broken People" is excellent, and surprisingly, so is "Ultimate Reason" which has Ferrell's processed vocals and Navarro's twitchy guitar.