What the funk Jane’s Addiction

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In a time when glam metal ruled the world and almost everything sounded the same (just like the shit pop of today) there were very few bands which stood out among the countless copycats. Guns N’ Roses reinvigorated hair rock with Slash’s hat, grand guitar solos, Axl’s outrageousness and the bluesy vibe in the vein of Aerosmith.

Jane’s Addiction seemingly also originated from the glam scene (which in all honesty seems more and more ridiculous the older I get), yet what they offered was this explosive blend of music genres which can’t be easily defined. This L.A. band were pioneers of the alternative rock and everything it came to be known as in the 90s (at this point alternative is a crazy mishmash of styles and ironically it is the new mainstream, really). With Perry Farrell’s distinct dreamy delivery and one of a kind music sound Jane’s Addiction quickly rose to be one of the music acts closest to my heart.

There are bands like AC/DC or Iron Maiden with a definite sort of sound – hear a few chords, you  realize you know that rhythm and you immediately know it’s one group or the other.

What’s the key characteristic of Jane’s Addiction? It’s hard to say, when the songs can range from funk rock, reggae, through heavy metal, grunge’y riffs, stoner ballads, to Hindu jingle – everything over the track list of a single album.

The band came from the same scene as Red Hot Chili Peppers or Fishbone and this influence resonates strongly (Flea and some members of Fishbone performed with JA live, Dave Navarro at one point was a member of RHCP), but first and foremost I’d describe their music as otherworldly and dreamlike experience.

 

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These guys are on the same level of cool.

Summertime Rolls, Then She Did or the epic Three Days seem like a soundtrack of an acid trip. The music Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters would listen to while travelling in Further. The White Rabbit kind of deal. They brought back the psychedelia of the 60s and made it their own.

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Jane’s Addiction is by no means playing stuff like Jefferson Airplane or 13th Floor Elevators. But it’s the group aesthetics that always somehow remind me of hippie culture. My impressions may be a bit implausible, but when I kick back and listen to this band, I just hear Timothy Leary’s Turn on, tune in, drop out. Nothing wrong with that I guess.

My perception of Jane’s Addiction is greatly affected by the personage of Perry Farrell. I saw many video clips of his at-concert rants and interviews, I’ve also begun following his Facebook page, and he’s such an enchanting and charismatic human being.

Huh, but let’s see, give a highly intelligent and spiritual man a bit of heroin (loads of it to be frank) and see how it turns out. I will argue that in this case the drugs usage was the best one could hope for that is a double-edged sword – they brought in some destruction, but also somewhat enhanced the creativity of this man. Sure, at times Perry sounded (-s) and behaved like Sean Penn’s character Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, yet often his notions were curious and very thought-provoking. Getting all philosophical is the thing I would like to do more often and it’s as if it comes natural for him. I believe that Farrell certainly loves music, and Jane’s Addiction compositions largely reflect his soul, considering he was the main driving force behind the lyrics.

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Aloha Mr. Hand!

While I do underline Perry Farrell as the biggest reason for drawing me into liking this band, other band members deserve just as much praise.

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I know shit-all about drummers and drumming, but I can distinguish good work from crap – Stephen Perkins is one badass percussionist and I think he doesn’t get nearly enough recognition and credit for it as he should. Stop! is a perfect example of a song which really showcases his skills. Perkins also did drums on Farrell’s Porno for Pyros project. It’s more bizarre, but just as rewarding as JA.

Eric Avery’s funky bass is really shining through on every song, the up-tempo ones in particular. That rhythm is totally formidable, and before you know it you tap your foot and then just jump around furiously to the beat. Too bad he left the band, I guess because of some internal tensions.

Finally, Dave Navarro shreds so hard on guitar. Together with Perry they evoke those psychedelic melodies I talked about earlier, but he can go wild when necessary as well. There are those heavy riffs on Three Days, groovy solos on Been Caught Stealing, classic/glam rock feel in Classic Girl. Not to mention he looks like the fucking Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa).

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OK, a way more flamboyant version of Drogo.

My top recommendations are two albums – Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual. I suppose most of my commentary comes with these two in mind. Nonetheless, 2003’s Strays, which kinda fits the nu-metal bill, is a pretty big change stylistically (probably not as huge of a leap as Metallica’s Load/Reload), it’s a grower and tracks like The Riches and Just Because are pretty amazing.

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Honestly I’m not familiar with every detail of Jane’s Addiction’s history, but the idea behind this post is first and foremost to explain (clumsily) how good their music is and highlight the effect it has on me. I remember I didn’t even like Been Caught Stealing the first time I heard it. And then one day I was lying in my bed in the evening and Three Days came up and it utterly blew my mind.

I freakin’ love those moments when you rediscover a band or a movie. It’s a small thing, but you smile deep inside.

 

…and I just read Jane’s Addiction is going celebrate Ritual de lo Habitual album anniversary as well as Lollapalooza Festival 25th anniversary. Keep on rocking!

https://twitter.com/janesaddiction

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/janes-addiction-plot-ritual-de-lo-habitual-anniversary-tour-20160407

http://somediverswhistle.com/songs/index.html  – amazing info site with tons of trivia, especially song lyrics-related

 

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