Friday, January 4, 2008

No. 309: Nothing's Shocking

Band: Jane's Addiction
Album: Nothing's Shocking
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The debut full-length from Los Angeles' alternative rock gods, "Nothing's Shocking" hits many of the same places other alternative bands did at the time, only Jane's fully developed those ideas.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The record has an air of experimentation on it and is hard to enjoy, save for a couple of songs.
Best song: The hits, "Jane Says" and "Mountain Song," are the best songs. "Ted, Just Admit It..." is also great.
Worst song: "Up The Beach" isn't wonderful.
Is it awesome?: It's not as good as their other record, but it's a lot of fun.

Jane's Addiction is a band that simultaneously gets under- and overrated. On one hand, the band only released two records and their sound wasn't cohesive enough to influence anyone other than the dreadful Red Hot Chili Peppers. On the other, the outside things the band was involved in (Lollapalooza and Dave Navarro's bizarre fame) made them something of a force during their time.

The weirdness of the band is hard to comprehend. Lollapalooza was the brainchild of Perry Farrell and mostly gave a home to the "alternative" crowd, a group of youngsters who wore jester hats and resided somewhere between hippies and punk rockers.

It's incredibly odd to think about it now, but it was perfectly acceptable in 1991 to wear a velvet top hat, a tuxedo jacket, no shirt and parachute pants. Lollapalooza provided for this and Jane's Addiction was that crowd's band. With their psychedelic funk metal, Jane's catered to a lot of strange, strange people. "Mountain Song" was their calling and "Jane Says" -- a song about a heroin addict who'd never been in love and dreamed of running away to Europe -- was the song to which they made love.

Needless to say, it was a troubling time for the youth of America.


A few random thoughts on the band:

  • Though it sounds nothing like the rest of the album, "Jane Says" is the best on the album. The mide-tempo guitar, rolling bass line and steel drums keep the song moving while Perry Farrell's lyric about his ex-roommate heroin addict who'd was abused by her boyfriend fit his voice perfectly. It's a cool update on Lou Reed's old themes and works perfectly within the band's strengths.

  • Perry Farrell might be the least talented person who has done cool stuff. He's bounced around as a house DJ since his days in the Jane's reunion that happened about 10 years ago. He's not really good for much, save for the glitter and makeup industries. He's now doing one of the intros for NBC's Sunday Night Football. Figure that out.

  • The cover is just strange, I think, for the sake of being strange.

  • The title comes from the song "Ted, Just Admit It...," a song about Ted Bundy. The song contains snippets from Bundy's statement in court. It's creepy, but also very, very cool.

Basically, this isn't a fantastic album, but one that marks a place in alternative rock history. This was when alternative was a catch-all, during a more innocent time.

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