Mstation Book Reviews
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Mon, 31 Oct 2005

Jane's Addiction

Brendan Mullen, Whores:
an oral biography of Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction,
Da Capo

I was at one of the last concerts of the first incarnation of Jane's Addiction. Banshee Farrell, hyper-guitar Navarro, the intricate thunder of Avery and Perkins: it was post-punk art theatre with a decadent beauty that attracted the most beautiful crowd I've ever seen. There were drugs and pain and a peculiar sort of redemption and release that shone like thin beams of light through cracks in the dark, dark sky. You were insanely in love with the wrong girl? You had bad habits but a redeeming poetry somewhere in your soul? This was the place for you, buried in shards of mega-guitar, thundering rhythms, and non-linear thoughts.

The idea is that adult, conformist society, basically sucks. That doesn't mean, like the manipulated, psychopathic punks that you had license to shit on anybody's head that was going past. It meant that technical crimes were bullshit. It meant that rules invented by bossy-boots do-gooders were also bullshit. And it meant that people who were so clueless as to buy it all were bullshit. Who would believe that in the time since then and now, things have actually got much worse?

But it actually takes wisdom and discipline to cope with that degree of licentiousness, or liberty, if you will. The band and their immediate hangers-on merely constructed a different prison for themselves and being around them can't have been much fun.

Where did this band come from? What interesting place brought them together? In this book, through a series of quotes from the band and the people around them, you can find out. Where did Perry Farrell get his name from? Peri-pheral he says. Someone else says he just took his brother's name. The place was LA and the vibrant scene one of those things that springs up at a certain time, blooms, spreads its seed upon the winds and disappears completely.

There is a lot of talk of drugs in this book but you'd have to be a complete fool to take any of it as an advocation. As Dave Navarro says "Heroin ruined my dreams. It turned the thing I had worked for my whole life into the thing I wanted to get away from the most." Farrell is more equivical but with the image he likes to project, I guess that's par for the course.

It's a wonder that the band ever got beyond the seedy clubs of LA. As the band was being signed, Farrell demanded 50% of the money, putting the others on 12.5% each. Somehow, the others, who were certainly not just sidemen, were made to agree, but it was the beginning of the end. Farrell, in fact, comes across as a bit of a monster, and the Porno for Pyros guys took a financial beating as well. Never mind, it's the music that counts.

If you're a Jane's fan, this book is probably essential.

And I'm glad that Jane Bainter somehow made it through. XX.

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