10 Best Jane’s Addiction Songs
The best Jane's Addiction songs reveal a side of the band that classic rock fans might not know. Jane’s is rightly recognized as a cornerstone of 1990s alternative boom. But more precisely, Jane’s was the last great, larger-than-life classic rock band. In recent years, the off-again-on-again group might be best known for the glitzy theme song from HBO’s ‘Entourage.'
But in their day, they were the epitome of a very different brand of California cool. Formed in Los Angeles in 1985, Jane’s represented the evolutionary apex of mystic, mythical, psychedelic rock pioneered by the Doors and perfected by Led Zeppelin. In honor of the release of their new album 'The Great Escape Artist,' here are the 10 Best Jane's Addiction Songs:
Jane’s teamed with producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper) for their first album without founding bassist Eric Avery, following a handful of “relapse” tours with various bassists, including a 1997 trek with Red Hot Chili Pepper Flea, an old pal. In place of Avery’s bedrock hooks, guitarist Dave Navarro dominates ‘Strays.’ (Before he became a reality TV star, he was a helluva shredder.) The LP disappointed diehard fans, but still but has its moments, like this single’s from-the-mountaintop chorus.
In concert, this delicate unplugged number becomes a true show-stopping singalong. It’s become a fan favorite due to -- not in spite of -- frontman Perry Farrell’s rough vocals, which reach from his sandpaper-y throat right down to his oversized heart.
Jane’s would dabble in playing and recording other band’s songs over the years, including a short run through the Doors’ ‘L.A. Woman,’ the Grateful Dead’s ‘Ripple,’ and Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks. But this Rolling Stones classic is the band’s definitive cover. This version drops the Stones’ signature “whoo-whoo”s, adds bongos, and comes out even for the trade.
The dark, helter-skelter rager is Jane’s in a nutshell: Navarro plays metal guitar to a funk rhythm, with unpredictable starts and stops. Farrell is frantic, alone, and itching with a nervous fear that God has left the building. When Farrell gazes into the abyss, it also gazes into him -- and finds him rocking like a whirling dervish.
One reason Jane’s -- along with most neo-classic rock bands -- haven’t been embraced by classic rock radio: The band incorporated influences from genres that cropped up after Zeppelin crashed. ‘Stop’ moves at the speed of punk, and its crushing, metallic guitar-bass attack suddenly give way to a psychedelic wash that would make the most dedicated Deadhead stop, do a double-take, then give in to the groove.
The instrumental track 'Up the Beach' introduces the album like so many rain drops before a storm. Then this massive track truly opens the band's major-label debut with the force of a tidal wave. Produced by Byrne/Eno engineer Dave Jerden, ‘Ocean Size’ more than lives up to its name.
A famously campy video helped make ‘Been Caught Stealing’ Jane’s greatest hit. With a bass line that won’t quit and unique lyrics about recreational kleptomania, this poppy funk nugget is a standout not only in the Jane’s catalog, but in rock and roll in general.
The band’s first single from their major-label debut continues the Zeppelinesque tradition of making the sudden leap from nature to the supernatural. Farrell cast the listeners as pilgrims walking a long road. And Navarro's razor-sharp riff cuts through the mountain mist like a samurai sword.
It took Jane's their entirely early existence to get this anthem exactly right. It first appeared in a rough form on their debut. Then the studio take from ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ became an overplayed cliche on alternative radio over the course of the 1990s. Finally, the 1997 odds and ends collection ‘Kettle Whistle’ dusted off a live recording from the 1991 Lollapalooza tour. On the 'Kettle' version, a deeper low end gives the song extra oomph, and this reinvigorated tribal take stands as the definitive version.
Clocking in at 10:49, this building, dynamic jam is an epic track on par with ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘The End.’ Farrell, always a captivating frontman, starts the track with a near-whisper of a monologue, and he’s soon surrounded by Avery’s most mesmerizing bass line. As the song cycles, Farrell plays a tour guide through the spirit world, contrasting the material and the magical, the modern and the eternal, the sexual and the sinister. And when Jane’s break on through, we’re left with an indelible look at the human condition.