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Up from the Catacombs: The Best of Jane's Addiction

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  • The original Jane’s Addiction (not the shadow of the group that put out Strays) were one of the best groups of their era: Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual are two of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard. Especially Ritual. Now THERE’S an album. Anyway, Up from the Catacombs does embody Jane’s Addiction’s extremely varied sound quite nicely, covering the majestic, psychedelic folk sweep of Rolling Hills, the alt-prog epics Three Days (the group’s best song ever) and Ted, Just Admit It…; the funky, hilarious radio hit Been Caught Stealin’ (which has one of the funniest videos of all time – imagine, if you will, a video with who I believe to be Perry Farrel in drag and a dance sequence in a supermarket aisle); to the tender I Would for You (taken from their live, self-titled debut), to some loud, crunching heavy rock (Ocean Size; Ain’t No Right; Stop!; Just Because; Mountain Song). This is a serviceable introduction to the group, then, but I have a few minor problems with it. For one, why not the studio version of Jane Says? The live take’s okay, I guess, but the studio version with that steal drum is the COOLEST thing. And Perry’s harsh vocals are touching. The version of Jane Says found on Nothing’s Shocking is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard. For another, I’ve never really liked Pigs in Zen. For a third, no compilation will replicate hearing NS and RDLH in full. I’m only a moderate alternative rock fan at best (I like about 15 alt-rock groups), and even I’ll admit those two are total essentials. If you need a place to start with the group, you might do well with this, but you’ll probably end up buying the original group’s two studio albums anyway.
    By the way, Dave Narravo is probably the best guitarist of his generation. Listen to all the influences in his playing! Funk, metal, psychedelia, prog, folk, jazz… it’s insane!

    Posted on January 12, 2010