photo & text by nacrowe
in the public imagination, ALTERNATIVE ROCK pioneers JANE'S ADDICTION are universally revered for their two TRANSCENDENT releases NOTHING'S SHOCKING (WARNER BROS, 1988) and RITUAL DE LO HABITUAL (WARNER BROS, 1990) before their first implosion after the LEGENDARY inaugural LOLLAPALOOZA in 1991. but the record that initiated it all was their self-titled first album JANES ADDICTION (TRIPLE X, 1987), which was in essence a live recording from a showcase 1987 gig at the ROXY THEATRE in LOS ANGELES with overdubs and crowd noise added later. the record itself is somewhat of a CURIOSITY, as it was OBSCURE upon release (much like vocalist PERRY FARRELL's previous band, PSI COM) coming from a small INDEPENDENT LABEL during what was the heyday of HAIR METAL at the time. JANES ADDICTION is NOTABLE for having the AFFECTING track "I WOULD FOR YOU," the HARD-CHARGING "WHORES" and "TRIP AWAY" as well as the first released iterations of NOTHING'S SHOCKING tracks "PIGS IN ZEN" and "JANE SAYS." if anything, the album proves what a formidable live band JANE'S ADDICTION was, even at this nascent stage in their ascent.
intriguingly, the strategy of having an initial release through that of an INDEPENDENT LABEL quickly became common INDUSTRY PRACTICE, especially prevalent during the subsequent ALTERNATIVE ROCK era when PUNK ROCK bona fides was deemed especially IMPORTANT. you can see this trajectory pursued by peer bands like SOUNDGARDEN (SST to SUB POP to A&M) and the MELVINS (BONER to ATLANTIC and then back down to IPECAC) as well as later acts like THE SMASHING PUMPKINS (CAROLINE to VIRGIN) and NIRVANA (SUB POP to DGC) among countless other examples. with internet-enabled instant global digital distribution available today, this whole notion of physical GATEKEEPING by RECORD LABELS and the implied PURITY of INTENTION identified with independent releases is an ABSOLUTE CULTURAL ANACHRONISM in today's marketplace. but not back then in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.
that PERRY FARRELL recognized this PHENOMENA and had his ear to the underground is REMARKABLE. he's something of SHAMAN in that respect, leading the masses out fo the CULTURAL WILDERNESS. this whole ALTERNATIVE movement was set to boil over with the help of FARRELL and JANE'S ADDICTION as well as that of INNOVATIVE peer bands in FISHBONE, THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS, FAITH MO MORE, LOVE AND ROCKETS, THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, R.E.M. and the then OBSCURE but BURGEONING SEATTLE scene at the time. as a CULTURAL ARTIFACT that is not by any stretch a DEFINITIVE artistic statement by an ICONIC and historically IMPORTANT band, what i take from it is how ahead of the game they were and how they pointed the way for others to follow and basically take over the industry for the better part of a decade.
definitely worth checking out.