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Spotlights [Issue # 4 ]
Jane's Addiction: Back In Business

By Dean Truitt

Contrary to popular misconception, Nirvana were not the forefathers of the "Alternative Nation." The rightful holders of that title are Los Angeles - based Jane's Addiction, whose 1988 major label release Nothing's Shocking heralded radical change on rock's horizon. As "Mountain Song" and "Ocean Size" screamed from stereos, the death of corporate rock was imminent.

The reason for Jane's Addiction's blistering rise was it's sheer originality. Not since Led Zeppelin had a rock band so successfully fused completely different styles: punk, metal, glam, goth, funk, folk, and jazz elements. The collective persona of the band, who appeared to hail from the land of Oz, was equally enigmatic. Perry Farrell was a visionary frontman cum pied piper who daringly lead his band and their fans across unchartered terrain. Dave Navarro, the dangerously talented, charismatic guitarist, was the man every guy wanted to be and every girl wanted to have. Eric Avery and Stephen Perkins, on bass and drums respectively, combined psychedelic grooves and punk rock aggression to drive the music to amazing heights.

Unfortunately, the creative collision that fueled the band's unprecedented success also drove it to self-destruction. After headlining the premier Lollapalooza Festival, which was Farrell's brainchild, the band broke up at the apex of their commercial and creative powers. While the individual members enjoyed noteworthy triumphs with the likes of Porno For Pyros and Red Hot Chili Peppers, none of these projects captured the imagination or had the impact of their work together.

Thirteen years is a lifetime for an artist not to release new music, but Strays proves Jane's Addiction has lost nothing over the years, other than founding bassist Eric Avery. Chris Chaney does an excellent job filling the coveted bassist slot and the band sounds as ferocious as ever. In fact, Strays is an ironic choice of album titles because it is clearly the band's most focused work to date. Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, KISS) produced the album with sheer brilliance by capturing the group's monumental moments, yet refining their self-indulgent tendencies. Navarro explains, "It's a more song-oriented approach. There are no eight-minute opuses, though some of these songs really are pretty epic." Every song on Strays is a fresh adventure. "Just Because," the album's first single, erupts like a sonic volcano. "Price I Pay" and the title track have the brooding swagger of the more ethereal experiments on Ritual De Lo Habitual. As abstract aural painters, the quartet continues to breed unlikely bedfellows: spirituality with sleaze, glamor with the gutter, and authority with anarchy. Like most iconoclastic artists, the band creates in such a manner that makes the most hideous scar seem to be its most beautifulfeature. Weaknesses ultimately become strengths. Most importantly, Jane's Addiction resoundingly demonstrates they are still far ahead of their time and are back to reclaim their crown as the once and future kings of the alternative music. They will be reemerging on the exact stages of their exit by once again headlining this summer's Lollapalooza Festival. One can only hope other artists will sit at the masters' feet and take notes while they still have a chance.


Back In Business Jane's Addiction Strays

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