Album of the Week: Jane's Addiction's A Cabinet of Curiosities

Jane's AddictionA Cabinet of Curiosities


Jane's Addiction is one of those bands that, although its members don't especially like each other anymore, its influence and demand are simply too great to stay broken up. The game-changing L.A. quartet that treated alternative rock like heavy metal (and vice versa) is now on its third, maybe fourth, reunion. (Jane's originally called it quits after headlining the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991, and plays Austin's Frank Erwin Center with fellow Lolla '91 alumni Nine Inch Nails May 12.) Jane's has a different sort of dilemma when it comes to recorded output: pre-breakup, it only released three albums, including a 1987 debut recorded live at Sunset Strip nightclub the Roxy. That means that for this inevitable career-commemorating box set, those vaults better be pretty deep - especially since they were previously raided for 1997 "relapse" Kettle Whistle and 2006 best-of Up from the Catacombs. Still, although this Cabinet is a little short on true curiosities - unless you count bassist Eric Avery's toilet-seat "book report" on DVD mini-doc Soul Kiss - it's got loads of Jane's visionary hedonism, and even some of the ancillary stuff packs a wallop. Disc 1 is, predictably if enlighteningly, given over to the demos that would eventually sprout into seminal studio albums Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual. Disc 2 throws in a few more ("Ted, Just Admit It...," about Ted Bundy, "Maceo," about singer Perry Farrell's cat), plus a 12" remix of "Been Caught Stealing" that revs Avery's bass like a motorcycle engine. Covers include "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey," which guitarist Dave Navarro reads more Mott the Hoople than Sly & the Family Stone, and the paisley-underground tones of the Grateful Dead's "Ripple." Both the hellacious live medley of the Doors' "L.A. Woman," X's "Nausea" and the Germs' "Lexicon Devil" and levee-breaking version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" foreshadow the last two discs. No more, no less, Disc 3 is the band at the peak of its powers - the Hollywood Palladium in December 1990, in fifth gear from "Up the Beach" through "Ocean Size." The DVD has amusing Soul Kiss bits like Farrell and his girlfriend shooting off a bottle rocket in bed, but it's mostly live too. Soul Kiss itself contains an explosive, unedited performance of "Mountain Song"; when not showing surfers or shoplifters, the six music videos are almost all concert footage. And all by itself, the Cabinet-closing three-song set shot in Milan for MTV Italy in October 1990, explains why - whether you were hooked by the band's more gothic/psychedelic aspects ("Three Days") or just wanted to bang your head ("Whores") - total withdrawal from Jane's Addiction was, and still is, mighty hard to come by.

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