Please Explain To Me ... Jane's Addiction

Nothing's shocking. Not even that suspender/gloves combo.

One of the bigger rock tours this summer promises to be the Nostalgiapalooza tour with Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction, who will attempt to relive the summer of 1991. Trent Reznor announced the plans for the tour on his Web site last week; more information is trickling out -- expect a Nissan Pavilion date to be announced shortly -- and people are starting to get excited.

Now I've got no problem with Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor is surely responsible for some (most?) of the worst lyrics of the past couple decades, but his first two albums plus the "Broken" EP mostly stand the test of time. He's always tried to stay artistically, creatively and commercially forward-thinking; he brings up-and-coming acts on tour with him; and he hates lots of things. He's OK in my book.

But Jane's Addiction? Maybe you just had to be there. Maybe if you were a teenager in the late-'80s/early-'90s there was something about Jane's Addiction that was exciting. That's my reasoning whenever I find myself defending Smashing Pumpkins. "I was 13, what do you want?" But outside of "Jane Says" -- which was one of the best modern rock radio hits until that appalling steel drum version became ubiquitous in the late-'90s, rendering all versions of the song unlistenable -- this was a band with little to offer.

All the worst aspects of late-'80s L.A. excess and ridiculousness -- and if you look at the picture above, you know I'm not just talking about the music -- were present. The music was some unholy hybrid of metal, funk and psychedelia with Perry Farrell's space-cadet lyrics on top.

And even if you can defend the Jane's Addiction of almost 20 years ago, how can you possibly want to see Jane's Addiction in 2009? You do realize that Dave Navarro is in the band, right? The dude who starred in two reality shows about his relationship with Carmen Electra. He might not be as bad as Flava Flav when it comes to forever rendering his future musical endeavors artistically irrelevant, but he's certainly near the top of the list. And he didn't have nearly as fall to far.

So ... please explain.

By David Malitz |  February 25, 2009; 10:09 AM ET Please Explain
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"One of the bigger rock tours this summer promises to be the Nostalgiapalooza tour with Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction, who will attempt to relive the summer of 1991. "

Yes, it's more like the Get Off My Lawn tour. ;) I kid, but it should be a riot.

Posted by: owl1 | February 25, 2009 10:41 AM

They did a great cover of Ripple on Deadicated. Which may be the Best Cover Album Ever.

Posted by: wiredog | February 25, 2009 11:13 AM

Ritual de lo Habitual was a fantastic 90s alt rock album.
They have coasted on the greatness of that one album ever since.

There is your explanation.

Posted by: bweisholtz | February 25, 2009 11:20 AM

Aren't they considered a Chicago band, I remember Smashing Pumpkins were considered the "next Jane's Addiction" back in the day.

Also please please please god, no Nissan date. Merriweather, Verizon, anything but Nissan.

Posted by: M__N | February 25, 2009 12:02 PM

Maybe some people just like that odd hybrid style. They're basically a much weirder version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's not like they've been coasting forever on their first two albums. They only released one other full album and they've haven't toured since "Strays".

Posted by: EricS2 | February 25, 2009 1:26 PM

Ritual still holds up, even listening to it these many years later, and they give good show, as does Reznor. I think the last show I went to at Nissan may have been the last time they toured, and that's been at least 5 years ago if not more. There's nothing wrong with a little excess every once in a while. Now, the one I want someone to explain to me is

Posted by: hannnah | February 25, 2009 1:32 PM

Yeah, you had to be there. Plus, you had to be open to Perry Farrell's "alien creature on drugs" routine. In my opinion, a two-hit wonder that got old even before they broke up the first time around. But this was all pre-Nirvana, when the non-conformist kids were desperate to hear anything other than '80s dance pop and glam metal on the radio. So I give them credit for being weird and still radio-friendly, even though I never liked their music.

Posted by: SSMD1 | February 25, 2009 1:40 PM

You definitely had to be there, and by "Ritual de lo Habitual," I'm pretty sure the shine had worn off for me. But Perry Farrell digging into his bare chest with a stiletto at some shows? That definitely had appeal for me at that age. He was Iggy for a post-punk generation as far as the on-stage excess and theatrics.

Posted by: polyester | February 25, 2009 1:58 PM

What was and is great about Jane's Addiction is their energy. If you haven't seen the clips of their recent show at Echoplex in L.A., go take a look. It's available on Pitchfork. I never got to see them play in the late 80s/early 90s, but I hear that they were legendary live. Based on the recent clips I've seen, they are still bringing it.

If you didn't like the music, fair enough, but recognize that it was a new, different and energetic mix for a lot of us who listened. That was exciting. Maybe we just weren't as hip as you were. ;) But given a choice between Jane's Addiction and the hair metal/pop schlock that was popular in the late 80s, I'll take JA, thanks.

Regarding Dave Navarro, since when does doing a reality show interfere with a person's ability to write and perform solid music? Next you're going to be eliminating musicians based on how they dress. "I could never listen to anyone who wears brown shoes. How totally out of touch." Come on, judge the music on the music.

Again, if you just don't like the music or the performance, that's fair. Come on out to the show this summer, though. Nine Inch Nails gives an epic live performance, and I'm pretty sure Jane's Addiction will too. If you respect good live performers, regardless of genre, I think you'll appreciate this show.

Posted by: azulaco1 | February 25, 2009 2:02 PM

I don't think they've aged well, but Jane's Addiction was truly alternative in the late 80s and early 90s. Plus their video (remember those?) for "Been Caught Stealing" was pretty hilarious.

Posted by: TMiami | February 25, 2009 2:55 PM

Good choice for this post. And I know you probably do a series of these posts about artists you never "got," but mine has been, for a few years now, Belle and Sebastian.

Posted by: sawyers100 | February 25, 2009 3:00 PM

"but his first two albums plus the "Broken" EP mostly stand the test of time."

Have you listened to Pretty Hate Machine recently? NIN albums got better at that 'timeless' thing once he took full control over production.

And live performances by Nine Inch Nails really raise the bar for anyone in rock. I haven't seen Jane's Addiction, so I can't really speak to what their shows are like. I'm with you on that steel drum take on Jane Says though, bleugh!

Posted by: leviathant | February 25, 2009 4:15 PM

I saw Jane's Addiction open for Iggy Pop at the Warner and then headline at the old 9:30 about three days later. This was shortly after Nothing Shocking had been released ('88?), I had never even heard of them at that point, and they absolutely rocked both shows. I have no idea if they can recreate the energy of those shows 20 some odd years later, but I think it'd be worth the price to see.

Posted by: EKruse | February 25, 2009 6:25 PM

"Trent Reznor is surely responsible for some (most?) of the worst lyrics of the past couple decades"....

What?.....You obviously do not know what you are talking about and have no credibility with that statement. The man's lyrics are one part of what made the band a success over time and why they have lifelong fans.

I am excited to see the tour.

Posted by: peaceman68 | February 26, 2009 9:23 AM

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