Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jane's Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual

Year: 1990
Genre: Alternative

Highlight Tracks: "Obvious", "Three Days", "Classic Girl"
Weak Track: "Been Caught Stealing"

One of the best albums of the 90's by one of the best American rock-n-roll bands of all time.

This album is much more than "Been Caught Stealing" and if you've only ever heard that mega-single then you are really missing out.

It all starts with the ironically-named "Stop" easily one of the most dramatic and entertaining album openers ever. Right away the album is tearing along with towering vocals from Perry Farrell and virtuoso playing by the band (especially guitar-hero Dave Navarro - what happened to that guy?). It is a damn exciting song and if it doesn't get you going then you better check your pulse or more appropriately make sure you have one!

The first half of the album is chock full of high-speed numbers dedicated to the fast and loose rock-n-roll lifestyle. Our journey is narrarated by Farrell's nasal whine and psudeo-butch grunts and groans. Meanwhile the rythmn section conduct high-speed dog-fight stacattos underneath Navarro's warp-speed guitar solos. Brilliant tempo changes abound and when we get to the fourth track "Obvious" we already need a breather. Jane's Addiction slow it down on "Obvious" but they never cease to amaze.

"Obvious" is the first of the album's Nothing's Shocking-style epics. It is a beautifully constructed mid-tempo mega-jam. Farrell's voice becomes another instrument, rather than the usual center-piece, as the band bend the listener's ear around a vortex of sound. If I had to describe the Rocky Mountains to a blind person I would play them this song.

"Been Caught Stealing" (the single heard round the world) is probably the album's most boring track. It is a decent enough summer-time single but it doesn't really show off much of what made Jane's Addiction such a great band. There is little innovation here which is probably why it ended up being so popular. This song blends in with any other trad-rocker of the early 90's. Which makes for a passable song just not that interesting.

"...Stealing" is followed by the album's tent-peg song; the gargantuan "Three Days" is a miracle in music. Nothing I can write here will do it justice, you should probably listen to it for yourself.

Actually the entire second half of Ritual is genius.

"Three Days"
"Then She Did"
"Of Course"
"Classic Girl"

In the future that block of songs should be studied in conservatories and books should be dedicated to lauding the band for arranging them in that order. That inspired song sequence combined with the fiery first-half makes this album a modern classic.

That's about as ringing an endorsement as I've ever mustered. I'd almost feel ashamed for such heavy-handed cheerleading but it really is that damn good.

3 comments:

Sassy Sundry said...

Live at the Roxy is one of my favorites.

M. H. Darpino said...

My old room mate had that one back in the day. Great live album! I have to track down a copy for my collection one of these days.

Philip said...

I remember hearing Jane's Addiction in early 88. And I still to this day hear "ocean size" and "Summertime Rolls" in my head whenever the weather gets warm. Nothings Shocking was the soundtrack of that summer and the following school year. I still remember sending through the mail to get the Mountain song video--it might have even been an advert in Thrasher Magazine!!!That album came at a time when every thing was changing. It was just what we all needed right at that moment. Ritual came at a time when life was stable and Jane's Addiction was changing.
Three days is a song much like The Doors "The End" that haunts you and you remember every jagged note, as if it were glass, yet smooth and dramatic. Perry's songs do that, and even after Jane's songs like "Pets" still bring me back to a particular time and place in my life--Great review Michael !!!