Ok. So it’s no secret to those who know me that I’m of the opinion that Jane’s Addiction are simply one of the most important bands ever. I guess it’s not just my opinion; after all, it’s a written-in-stone fact. But in my own list of favourite bands ever they’re easily in my top 5. Now, my introduction to their music (aside from Been caught Stealing, of course) came around 1997, so I got on the bus after a few stops. In fact, you could say the bus was at the depot for servicing. However, I didn’t have to wait too long for my first moment of new release excitement, when just a few short months later saw the release of the odds and ends compilation, Kettle Whistle.
Anyhoo, what struck me about Nothing’s Shocking was how it differed from the ‘alternative rock’ that I was heavily into at the time (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden and the likes (intentionally missed out Nirvana there – that’s a given)). It appealed to me on the same level that Guns N’ Roses had done previously, but it transcended that. Challenging that whole notion of rock n’ roll excess – this wasn’t just excess, it was thoughtful, sensitive, true and ferocious!
So when I got the record player it was high up on the ‘Grail list’ and I had been toying with picking up the Rhino reissue, as it had been hanging around one of the local record shops. I often picked it up during a few lunch break visits, but also decided against it. Mostly due to what I’d read about the Rhino reissue of Purple (if anyone has any thoughts on the Rhino stuff I’d certainly like to hear, as I’m currently weighing up their recent press of Gram Parsons’ GP …).
So, I honestly don’t know if Jane’s Addiction ever really topped this one. I sometimes think Ritual de lo Habitual is my favourite (the second side of that record is one of the best sides ever), but then I think about this one again and give that notion some more thought. Anyhoo, sonically, Nothing’s Shocking packs a punch. It’s pretty slick, but still gritty and capturing the essence of the band (I think). The tension between Navarro, Avery, Perkins and Farrell morphing into the sounds they each created and as a result it sounds as though it could explode or crumble at any moment. It’s fractured, sensual and visceral.
Up the Beach, Ocean Size, Had A Dad and Mountain Song really build on Avery and Perkins’ wonderful grooves before Navarro lights up the skies with his incredible guitar work. Wham! Bam! Like fireworks! Explosions and wailing and all that good stuff! It’s never indulgent, but just enough psychedelic flights of fancy to throw him in with the best there is. Those transcendental psychedelic work-outs continue as the band stretch themselves out on the marvellous Ted, Just Admit It … as Farrell muses on the violence obsessed media – “the TV’s got them images, the TV’s got them all, it’s not shocking … now the news is, just another show, with sex and violence”. Summertime Rolls is another one of those slow burning numbers with it’s bass and drum groove driving it and Navarro bringing the juice.
There’s a lot more to this one, though. Like I say, it’s thoughtful. Pretty complex, I guess. There’s Standing in the Shower … Thinking, which is an utterly magnificent song. There’s even some horns in there as Perry tells us that Idiots Rule and some nice jazz moves on Thank You Boys … and then there’s the brilliant Jane Says. The heartbreaking portrait of an addict who keeps promising to quit, but just can’t (Damn you, Sergio!). As an album, it’s honestly pretty remarkable. Near perfect and still fresh despite it’s 26 years.
So yeah, I spotted this really splendiferous original copy over in Mixed-Up Records. Snapped that up before I looked at the wee price sticker. Happened to cost me £12. I reckon that was a winner. Hurrah!
… and Look at that cover, too. Conjoined twins sitting on a sideways rocking chair with their heads on fire. From what I’ve read, the sculpture was created by Perry Farrell from casts of his then girlfriend. Of course, retailers objected to it and the majors even said they’d only sell it if it was in a bag or some such thing. Nothing’s Shocking, right?