Review Summary: Jane's Addiction manages to create an excellent album with amazing instrumentation and a very dark theme.1 of 2 thought this review was well written
Warner Bros, 1988
Jane's Addiction is...
Perry Farrell: Vocals, piano
Dave Navarro: Guitar
Eric Avery: Bass
Stephen Perkins: Drums, percussion
The 80s are well known as the era when music turned stale. Hair Metal was at large, and singer songwriters such as George Michael and -shivers- Billy Ray Cyrus peaked the charts with stale, doctored ballads. Music at this time could be described as 'reaching an all time low'. As the story goes, these waves of terrible rock anthems and emotionless love songs were quickly pushed back by the dawn of grunge... otherwise known as Nevermind, Ten, and Dirt. Grunge artists were often much more talented than their 80s metal counterparts, and many such as Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam, were rewarded well for their talents and general sense of taste. However, before this new wave of bands hit, there were several, more underground bands that also mastered grunge music. These included the infamous Mother Love Bone, and the foundling Soundgarden. Amongst these smaller, less popular bands was Jane's Addiction...
Before the release of Nothing's Shocking, Jane's Addiction had released a self titled album that, although it could have been considered fresh and groundbreaking at the time, sold very few copies and was generally unsuccessful. Still confident that he and his band could reach the charts, vocalist Perry Farrell and his bandmates took to the studio once more in 1988. Dave Jerden, producer of various David Byrne and Brian Eno albums was hired to produce this second release. Although it was said that many of the band members were not content with the album itself, Farrell decided to release it anyhow, and it hit the shelves on August 23, 1988.
I did not discover this album, nor the genius behind it until my graduation year in 1998. At this time I was still listening to more classic rock, as well as some of the more popular grunge bands. Upon purchasing and playing this album, I was shocked (no pun intended) at how excellent the instrumentation was.
Indeed, 'Nothing's Shocking' manages to showcase each musician's talent very well on every song. Dave Navarro is a very talented guitarist, creating some massive riffs and solos, as well as providing softer guitar passages, like those displayed on 'Summertime Rolls'. Literally every song aside from the acoustic 'Jane Says' contains a very powerful solo or riff. There is a great variety of guitar styles here as well, from the funky 'Standing In The Shower...Thinking' to the hard rock assaults of 'Ocean Size', 'Mountain Song', and 'Pigs In Zen'. Dave uses many guitar effects here, each one fitting towards the theme of each song.
The dual rhythm section of Eric Avery and Stephen Perkins also add towards the powerful songs. 'Summertime Rolls', 'Mountain Song', and 'Pigs In Zen' all feature very catchy, potent bass lines that can sometimes sound dark and eerie, or just plain funky. The drumming is nothing short of phenomenal, using a good blend of live drums and percussion. Stephen manages to create very interesting, unique drum grooves and fills that really take the music to new places. He even exercises some very jazzy drumming on the brief instrumental 'Thank You Boys'.
Perry Farrell is a very talented vocalist who can hit very high pitched notes and create some very interesting yelps and squeals. Although this may seem annoying or offputting at first, it is very easy to learn to enjoy his voice. It is easy to compare his vocal style to an insane children's choir, or a berserk wildcat. As the chief lyricist here, he manages to create some very deep, meaningful lyrics, many dealing with drug abuse, sex, or violence. The acoustic 'Jane Says' contains very biting, depressing lyrics dealing with the life of a junkie. As the frontman of this band, Perry manages to create some rather interesting imagery concerning 'Nothing's Shocking'. He somehow weaves a world of sex, violence, and drugs, but delivers it all through some grungy, funky music, as well as some vocals that sounds like they could be sung by demented children. The final product is a dark, demented masterpiece that borders on pornography with its sickly approach and sinister lyrics.
If I were to choose one song that showcases the overall talent of the band and sums up the album as a whole, I would definitely choose 'Ted...Just Admit It'. With lyrics concerning mass murderer Ted Bundy, this seven minute epic is the longest song on the album. The drums and percussion are outstanding, the guitar is distorted and crunchy, the bass is deep and powerful, and Perry's voice is nearly psychotic. The song gradually builds up from a complex drum intro into musical insanity.
In conclusion, 'Nothing's Shocking' is a phenominal album. All of Jane's Addiction display their full abilities, and, despite some seldom annoying vocals, the record manages to pull through as a near masterpiece.
-Dark, creepy lyrics
-Contains a great variety of musical styles
-Vocals may be annoying to some
-Recording is not spectacular
Recommended Tracks (Download Or Die)
-Ted...Just Admit It
-Pigs In Zen
Now go buy this.