Month: November 2019

Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual

ARTIST: Jane’s Addiction 220px-Jane's_Addiction-Ritual_de_lo_Habitual

TITLE: Ritual de lo Haibitual

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: #19

SINGLES: Stop! (#1 Alternative), Been Caught Stealing (#1 Alternative, #29 Mainstream, #34 UK), Three Days, Classic Girl (#15 Alternative, #60 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ain’t No Right

LINEUP: Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, Stephen Perkins. Classical musicians helped on a couple of tracks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Split into two sections, Jane’s second album shows both sides of Perry Farrell and the band. 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Roaring out of the gate with “Stop!” and furiously blasting through five tracks (ending with the enduring “Been Caught Stealing”), the first half of Ritual de lo Habitual is everything you thought you wanted from an alternative rock band.

Then you get to the second half, and that’s upended. Jane's_Addiction-Ritual_de_lo_Habitual_(clean_cover)

Admittedly, it took me a while to get that second half – four long songs about Farrell’s ex-girlfriend and the suicide of his mother. Moody, ethereal, with the long, intense “Three Days” the highlight, with Dave Navarro’s guitar solo the highlight. It took a big leap of faith for a band known for riffs and volume (for the most part) to branch out like this.

They pretty much imploded after this, and while the band came back (for the most part), it never was the same. How could it?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Many retailers didn’t want to stock the album due to the cover, so the band produced an alternate cover with the 1st Amendment and a warning about facism for those stores.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A+: It grows on you. You put it away for a while, and listen to it, and it intrigues you more and more.

Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking

ARTIST: Jane’s Addiction 220px-Nothing's_Shocking_(Jane's_Addiction_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: Nothing’s Shocking

YEAR RELEASED: 1988

CHART ACTION: #103

SINGLES: Jane Says (#6 Alternative), Mountain Song, Had a Dad, Ocean Size (#36 Alternative)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Pigs in Zen

LINEUP: Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, Stephen Perkins. Flea, Angelo Moore and Christopher Dowd played horns on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Major label debut announces Jane’s Addiction as a force to be reckoned with in the scene.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At the time, this record was a revelation. An LA band who eschewed glam and hair and posing, and was more concerned with art and statements. The band rocked, with guitarist Dave Navarro creating inventive riffs and solos and bassist Eric Avery melodic anchor. Meanwhile, frontman and lyricist Perry Farrell was spinning unique tales with his intense, high-pitched vocals.

The power of songs like “Ocean Size”, “Mountain Song” and “Had a Dad” almost overwhelm the listener but the band and Farrell pulls back at the right time. Tracks like “Ted, Just Admit It” (about Ted Bundy) may seem pretentious at first but they’re not. Only a couple track seem a bit forced (“Idiots Rule” for one).

“Jane Says”, the big ‘hit’ from the record, was overplayed, and still is, and it’s nowhere near the best song on the record. That’s not a detraction, as there’s so so much depth here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The seeds of discord were planted here. Farrell wanted sole royalties for the lyrics, and a ¼ share for the music. That caused strife that almost broke up the band before the record was started, and lingered.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A: A solid, genre-bending record that set the course for hard rock, alternative rock, and nu-metal in the 90’s, for better or worse.

Jane’s Addiction – Jane’s Addiction

ARTIST: Jane’s Addiction 220px-Jane's_Addiction_album

TITLE: Jane’s Addiction

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Pigs in Zen and Jane Says were re-done later.

LINEUP: Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, Stephen Perkins

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: “Live” record released before their major label debut

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I wasn’t too convinced I’d like this prequel to Jane’s Addiction’s proper debut, but my fears were unfounded.

Recorded live (basic tracks) with overdubs at a studio, the basic building blocks of Jane’s Addiction are here. The band is tight, and inventive, winding around Perry Farrell’s lyrics and melodies. Sometimes Farrell goes over the top, and while the cover version of the Velvet Underground and the Rolling Stones had their moments, it seemed that they were just there for filler.

The songs you don’t really know are just as strong as the two they recorded later. All in all, while it’s not an essential release, for fans it’s pretty good. It even changed my mind (somewhat) on “Jane Says”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: On the very first pressing of the disc, “Pigs in Zen” was typed as “Pigs in Ten”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few outtakes

GRADE B+: It was a good intro to the band then, and now it’s a good document of what they were.

The Meat Puppets – Up on the Sun

ARTIST: The Meat Puppets  220px-MeatPuppets_-_UpOnTheSun

TITLE: Up on the Sun

YEAR RELEASED: 1985

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Swimming Ground

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not

LINEUP: Curt Kirkwood, Cris Kirkwood, Derrick Bostrom

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Meat Puppets’ release a laid-back, country-tinged record that’s psychedelic and weird while being normal at the same time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This album is bifurcated, in that the guitar and the playing are pretty darn straight up – tight and impressive with Curt Kirkwood’s guitar’s sounding very clean and interacting well with his brother Cris’ bass and Derrick Bostrom’s drums. Everything is solid and clean.

Then, the songs, and the lyrics. Curt’s vocals are mellow and still trying to find a note or five, and at times “Up on the Sun” sounded like the record was warped as he was singing. There’s a lazy vibe – like they’re baked out in the sun (and I don’t mean they’re sunbathing). Here’s also where Curt and Cris start singing together (at times here), which can smooth out the ‘oddities’.

This is a more stylistically together album, so there’s not an element of surprise. It’s a good, kinda mellow record with some excellent playing.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Curt Kirkwood did the cover painting, and Bostrom did the sleeve art.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few outtakes

 GRADE A-: A fine, mellow-ish, trip.

The Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II

ARTIST: The Meat Puppets 

TITLE: Meat Puppets II

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lost, Plateau, Oh Me, Lake of Fire

LINEUP: Curt Kirkwood, Cris Kirkwood, Derrick Bostrom

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An punk record? A psychedelic record? A country-rock record? All of them, for sure. It’s unique.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, you can quibble about Curt Kirkwood’s vocals (not really in any key known to mankind), and the stylistic diversions, and the uprooting of the punk norm (for those SST Records purists), but dang this is a fun record that’s, well, always keeping you guessing.

The opening track, “Split Myself in Two” is really punk rock with other overtones, but then as you move along to tracks like “Lost”, “Plateau”, and “Lake of Fire”, you’re in totally uncharted waters for an SST act. Acoustic guitars, country rhythms, jammy instrumentals, psychedelic overtones, mystical lyrics, and Lord knows what else. It’s like the Grateful Dead crossed with the Minutemen, or something.

If you can get past the vocals (I mean it, they’re surprisingly off-key, but earnest), and forget this was a punk band (was) on a punk rock label, then you’re in for an adventurous treat.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They played with Black Flag and Nig Heist on a tour, and the punkers in the audience didn’t get it. Long hair? Jams? Wow. Oh, and three of the tracks were on Nirvana’s unplugged record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, outtakes and other tracks.

GRADE A+: Sod the vocals, and listen to “Plateau” on repeat, forever.

The Toadies – Rubberneck

ARTIST: The Toadies

TITLE: Rubberneck

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: #56, #1 Heatseekers

SINGLES: Mister Love, Possum Kingdom (#9 Mainstream, #4 Modern, #40 Airplay), Away (#23 Mainstream, #28 Modern), Tyler, Backslider

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Come From the Water

LINEUP: Vaden Todd Lewis, Darrel Herbert, Lisa Umbarger, Mark Reznicek

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Grungy, hard-edged Austin band surprised everyone with a big 90’s hit, and that really was all they had in ‘em.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: One fantastic song and a few good riffs and ideas don’t a great album make – they barely make a good album. Such is the case for Rubberneck.

Sounding like the Pixies or Fugazi without the dynamic tension or intelligent lyrics, the Toadies came out of Austin to sign with a major label after a couple of indie released EPs, and once a radio station in Orlando started playing “Possum Kingdom”, they caught fire in 1995. Yet the album was disappointing after that song.

Riffs were there, and some interesting ideas were explored, but they didn’t go anywhere special. The first two cuts of the record, an instrumental and their most strident song, seemed to be a poor introduction to the rest of the album. Vaden Todd Lewis’ vocals are also a hinderance at times, trying too much for the shout without the subtlety needed at times. Except for “Possum Kingdom”, it didn’t come together.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Interscope rejected their second album, and they didn’t release a follow up until 2001. By that time, they were basically done-zo. Of course they reunited (three out of for) and are treading the boards today.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, outtakes on a special edition.

 GRADE B-: It’d be a “C+” without “Possum Kingdom”. Just your average alt-rock record.

The Mamas & The Papas – The Papas & the Mamas

ARTIST: The Mamas & The Papas 220px-Cover_-_papas_and_mamas

TITLE: The Papas & The Mamas

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: #15 US

SINGLES: Twelve Thirty (#20 US), Safe in My Garden (#53 US), Dream a Little Dream of Me (#12 US, #11 UK), For the Love of Ivy (#81 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not from this one.

LINEUP: Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips. The Wrecking Crew provided the backing even though they moved studios

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: It was a downer year for all and this record was not bright and happy. But it was better than the last one by far.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Tensions were high within the group as they set about to record this album. John Phillips and Cass Elliot were feuding, the sessions for the album stalled out, and Elliot made plans to go solo.

Still, with all of this, the album aims high and mostly succeeds. “For the Love of Ivy” was a complex song with interlocking vocals. “Mansions” was another standout, and most of the second side was great but darker than their other material.

The times were changing here and the band was almost done. The public didn’t like their darker side and moved on. It less than three years, it was basically over.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The trouble may have started when John Phillips installed a studio in his house, and he could record as he wished. Which meant he diddled around and the vocals took forever thanks to Phillip’s perfectionism.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: Though it wasn’t well received at the time, it’s aged a lot better than you’d expect.

The Mamas & The Papas – Deliver

ARTIST: The Mamas & The Papas Deliver

TITLE: Deliver

YEAR RELEASED: 1967

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Look Through My Window (#24 US), Dedicated to the One I Love (#2 US, #2 UK), Creeque Alley (#5 US, #9 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Covers of My Girl and Twist and Shout

LINEUP: Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips. The Wrecking Crew provided the backing.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: “Let’s Put On A Show!”

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Mamas & The Papas were still big business in 1967, with hit singles, album sales, TV appearances, and spearheading the Monterey Pop Festival. What happened was that when this album was put together, instead of seminal sunshine pop, it was time for show-biz! At least for side one.

Cover songs of well known songs and show tunes (though “Dedicated to the One I Love” is breathtaking), accompanying a kinda novelty that re-tells their story (“Creeque Alley” – charming in its own way). They exploit Cass Elliot’s natural charisma to propel the songs into something fitting for a variety show.

Which is kind of disappointing, really. Side two is much more in vogue with their other records – a combo of folk and sunshine pop with great harmonies, except for an instrumental (this was a vocal group, really, right?) Still, kind of a downer given the first two releases.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title is a sly reference to Elliot’s pregnancy and delivery of a baby in 1967.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 

GRADE B-: Could have been better. Some is great and some cringeworthy.

The Mamas & The Papas – The Mamas & The Papas

ARTIST: The Mamas & The Papas 220px-MamasPapas

TITLE: The Mamas & The Papas

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #24 UK

SINGLES: I Saw Her Again (#5 US, #11 UK), Words of Love (#5 US, #47 UK), Dancing Bear (#51 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dancing in the Street (#73 US as a B-side)

LINEUP: Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips. Jill Gibson was in for Michelle Phillips for a spell. The Wrecking Crew provided the backing along with Ray Manzarek.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A sunshine-pop smash that masked inter-group turmoil.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ten of the 12 tracks on the self-titled second album by The Mamas & The Papas were written (or co-written) by John Phillips, as his creativity was hitting full stride.

The group was also hitting full stride, using inventive arrangements and production lead by Lou Adler. The harmonies were spot on, and Denny Doherty’s and Cass Elliot’s leads were sassy and sweet as needed. “I Saw Her Again” and “No Salt on Her Tail” were classics of the 60’s (even if the last wasn’t a single).

The album masked a lot of issues, though. Michelle Phillips had cheated on John with Doherty, upsetting the dynamic, and then when Michelle was caught in an affair with former Byrd Gene Clark, they booted her from the group. Jill Gibson came in, but was let go after three months. Songs were recorded, re-recorded, and re-re-recorded. What Gibson actually sang on was and is unknown. That really doesn’t matter. What matters is the end product.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The false start on “I Saw Her Again” (before the third chorus) was an engineering mistake by Bones Howe (a legend in his own right in Sunshine Pop), but Lou Adler kept it in.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: A classic of Sunshine Pop, deep cuts and hits all working well.

Firehose – Fromohio

ARTIST: Firehose 220px-FROMOHIO

TITLE: Fromohio

YEAR RELEASED: 1989

CHART ACTION: None.

SINGLES: Time With You

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: What Gets Heard

LINEUP: Ed Crawford, Mike Watt, George Hurley. Kira Roessler played and sung too.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A record much like their previous, except a couple of solo spots for George Hurley.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Unlike If’n, Fromohio (taken from Ed Crawford’s sometime nom-de-band – Ed Fromohio) isn’t a leap forward, more like a retrenchment towards what worked previously. That’s OK, and some of the songs were pretty good (“What Gets Heard”, “Time With You”), but others seemed just repeated themes from their previous records.

They also had two drummer showcases, and a guitar exercise. Those would be OK had not the other material been as strong as the previous album – but it really wasn’t.

All in all, it seemed like Firehose was marking time here. A better record than most of their contemporaries, but still marking time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Watt started calling his bass “Thunder Broom”. Plus, the title track from the previous album is on this one.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B: I didn’t think it was as good as any of their other SST records.