After lead singer Perry Farell's previous band, Psi-com dissolved in the mid-eighties, Perry teamed up with bassist Eric Avery and then went on to form a very important and influential band in the alt rock world. Perry and Eric recruited a drummer by the name of Stephen Perkins and his friend, guitarist Dave Navarro, and the band would be known as Jane's Addiction
. The band got its name from a then-heroin addict named Jane who knew and was a neighbor of Perry at the time. But anyway, with the band now in full swing, they began to play gigs around the Los Angeles circuit where they would develop a local fan following and continued to get to get credibility throughout the state. While playing a show at The Roxy Theatre on the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood in 1987, the band recorded this live performance which would end up being the band's first album. Jane's Addiction was then sighed to Triple X Records. This album would be the only record of the band's to be released on this label as Jane?s Addiction would soon after sign to Warner Bros. Records where they would release their next two albums (Nothing's Shocking
, Ritual De Lo Habitual
), both studio albums. This album consists of ten songs from the show totaling almost fifty minutes which is a good length for the amount of songs as it is has enough material for an efficient listen but does not drag on too long as well.
Jane's Addiction were a very energetic band on studio recordings, so this album adds even more energy live. But besides the energy being present, the record has obviously a much rawer sound than their studio recordings which is good and bad in ways, but I'm leaning more towards the good. It's good in the sense that you can feel the raw energy with the sound of the crowd (the crowd was not very big mind you). I may be sounding repetitive with the energy thing, but it's a key factor that makes this album what it is. But most importantly, they know how to put on a good show, as they keep the fans into it but not enough to bring down the music quality, as well as playing their instruments and singing well live which all equals for a very entertaining show. Probably the only downside of the live recording is something that is very similar to many live albums, the sound quality. But still, there are much worse sounding live recordings than this. In fact, this is one of the better ones I've heard. But the sound may not appeal to some people with a first listen or it may make some songs sound a little messy.
This self titled album features two songs that would later appear on their first studio album a year later, 1988's Nothing's Shocking
. Those two tracks being the very popular Jane Says
and Pigs In Zen
. But these songs sound noticeably different then their studio recordings, mainly Jane Says
. The main difference being the drums. They are clearly a different type than usual, and if I'm not mistaken they are steel drums, which are noticeable the majority of the album. After about thirty seconds of crowd chanting, fun drum beats, light acoustic guitar and Perry singing lyrics that weren't included on the later version, the signature riff kicks in after Perry yells out a "1 2 3 4"
!. Jane Says
is done perfectly, as it showcases Perry's vocals talent quite well as well as showing the bands talent, not so much electrically, but acoustically. The song is very mellow and played smoothly throughout. It is built around the same acoustic riff which is done very well. Overall a very strong track and definitely stands out in the performance. Pigs In Zen
is one of the heavier songs on the album, if not the heaviest. It's also quite long too at almost five minutes. The major highlight of this one is definitely Dave Navarro's guitar skills. He plays a number of solos, some very technical which are all incredibly done and shows an early sign of why he is the accomplished guitarist that he is. Though the guitar is the primary focus here, the whole group delivers a solid performance, making it one of the best tracks here.
This album also features two cover songs of two bands both cited as influences for Jane's Addiction. These covers include The Rolling Stones' famous song Sympathy for the Devil
, off their album Beggars Banquet
, as well as a take on The Velvet Underground's Rock & Roll
from their album Loaded
. While I wouldn't exactly say JA's versions of these songs are better than the originals because they are both classics, but both of them offer something new and the band?s own style of things. Sympathy
sounds very different than the original. Perry sings most of the song very gently, contrary to the way Jagger sung it. As the song progresses, Perry's voice drastically changes tempos as at times he hits notes that somehow he pulls off without sounding bad. This is another song that clearly demonstrates Dave?s guitar skills as he plays some crazy solos over the calm drumming and acoustic guitar (seeing how this is a live album, there must have later been some dubs in the studio to accommodate both guitars). Rock & Roll
is probably the weaker of the two covers, but still put together very nicely. Similar to the original in most ways, but Perry's vocals sound very raw here and his voice is obviously different to that of Lou Reed's which makes the song sound well...different. This track also features a number of distorted solos from Navarro which makes the song a little more enjoyable.
The other tracks on the album all offer something different and no two sound alike with the possible exception of the album opener and closer (Trip Away
, Chip Away
), as they do follow the same formula but is most likely intentional. The album has a blend of hard rock songs, soft rock, and experimental tracks as well incorporating other types of instruments including the harmonica. Leading the pack of the harder songs are the funky 1%
and the third track, Pigs In Zen
which I already mentioned. The song titled Whores
, also shows a harder side of JA as well as some vulgar yet at times humorous lyrics from Perry. All three songs are done well instrumentally and all provide a guitar solo from Dave but the most noticeable one would be on Whores
as Dave plays very them much faster than usual. I Would For You
is the softest song on the album. The song focuses mostly on Perry's voice over a simple bassline from Eric more than anything else. The song does not have any drums or guitar, but displays the vocals better as well as the song writing as Perry sings a love song about a certain someone. My Time
is perhaps the strangest song on here or rather the most unusual which makes it stick out oppose to the others. This song involves what sounds like a harmonica during most parts and Perry's voice sounds very different hear as he sings with a different tone that is more raspier an just more distinct. The song is mid-tempo, being rather oft but not as calm as the previous track. The album opener Trip Away
is very fast paced and sets an immediate fun filled mood for the album with the signature high vocals, fast guitar riffs and hard hitting drums. And also gives a first taste of Dave's guitar skills as he plays an impressive solo. The record closes on Chip Away
. This song is another track that seems strange at first, as it is built around a drum beat that sounds like it could be used in drumline competition. The vocals work well here and also has backing vocals which compliments them. There is no real strong guitar work here, but the drumming easily makes up for it. A good way to end an excellent live album.
Jane's Addiction live self titled debut album is put together well and kick started the career of a good band. It showcases the band in their rawest form, but may not be the most accessible to some newcomers of the band. If you are not too familiar with Jane's Addiction's work, I would first recommend their 1990 album, Ritual De Lo Habitual
or their first studio album Nothing's Shocking
Pigs In Zen