It’s very difficult to overstate how refreshing Jane’s Addiction felt when they first emerged from LA in the late 80s.
They allowed the listener all the big dumb fun of prime Hollywood metal, without burdening anyone with any of the wearisome boorishness characteristics of most practitioners of the genre.
The group’s first release was the live recording Jane’s Addiction (1987) on the Triple X label, which succinctly displayed their unique acid-tinged fury in songs like 1%, Whores and Pigs In Zen.
Live, the band were confrontational with vocalist Perry Farrell stalking the stage like a transsexual high priest.
Their first manager was a prostitute who would greet punters topless; inside was a freak show carnival of transsexual strippers, fire-eaters, snake dancers and sleazy porn flicks – a mind-trip topped off by the band’s skull-crushing hypnotic presence.
Their two genuinely great albums, Nothing’s Shocking (1988) and Ritual De Lo Habitual (1990), were delights, providing the virtuosity and swagger of Guns N’ Roses lightened by the roaring camp of The New York Dolls and the ineffable cool of The Velvet Underground.
Ritual De Lo Habitual delivered a UK Top 40 hit with Been Caught Stealing, a funky paean to the delights of shoplifting. Inevitably Jane’s Addiction incurred the wrath of America’s moral guardians (again) and the record was banned from several US retail chains.
The band responded by re-releasing it in a plain white sleeve with only the First Amendment printed on it.
The following year, Farrell organised the Lollapalooza tour – a travelling festival of indie and alternative acts. It was while headlining this jaunt in 1991 that the band reached its final messy conclusion, with Farrell coming to blows with Navarro and splitting soon after.
Perry Farrell (Perry Bernstein)