I said, “sit back
And get yourself relaxed”
They crawled out of the seamy side of LA, exploded like a rockety thing, then spun around entertainingly like a Catherine wheely type thing, before their own pharmaceutical instabilities tore them apart very publicly on the centrifuge of their own successy thing. I loved Jane’s Addiction they were such a talented, inventive, exciting band that delivered a very timely reminder to a waiting world that heavy really didn’t need to be remotely in thrall to the past, or remotely formulaic and I was gutted when they split.
Scanning the music press I was tantalized by news of Perry Farrell and Stephen Perkins’ next project, Porno For Pyros and of course I rushed out and bought the eponymous LP as soon as I could afford it on 28 April 1993*. I loved the name of the band** and the cover art and, well, three songs.
Porno For Pyros was and remains a big disappointment to me. My main problem was the muddy-sounding production and the loss of such a range of dynamics in the tunes, which in turn were a bit pedestrian. It’s unfair to say it perhaps but Peter DiStefano was a perfectly good guitarist but we fans yearned for a little more, some of Dave Navarro’s left turns maybe and the same could be said of Martyn LeNoble compared to the brilliant Eric Avery. It is essentially unjust to criticise one band for not being another one though.
Okay let’s up the possies and down the neggys^, there are a scattering of excellent tracks on Porno For Pyros. First up, I loved ‘Pets’ from the off – who couldn’t love a song about aliens taking over the world in order to save ourselves from ourselves and reducing humankind to the role of pets? it’s funny and the music has a blissfully stately quality that resonates with me, Perry’s vocal is cleverly poised and there’s a welcome squall of guitar hidden away in it too^^. Next up for sheer jaw-dropping horn monkeyness is ‘Black Girlfriend’ with the gasp-inducing opening lines:
Ever since the riots
All I really wanted
Was a black girlfriend
Never a man to knowingly undersell himself on the chutzpah front Mr Farrell outdoes himself here, which would be unbearable if the song wasn’t brilliantly performed as a wonky nursery rhyme which takes a sly poke or two at racial stereotypes. Vote Perry folks, he would have been just the guy to heal America’s racial divides 23 years ago with one thrust of his midriff-mounted magic wand. Looking back over all the press cuttings I packed into the LP cover there’s a theme to all the interviws, a lewd one basically Mr farrell’s theory was that world peace was attainable through the medium of shagging. End of story.
It will shock you, I know, but Perry’s pelvic peregrinations also form the basis of my last favourite here, ‘Orgasm’. Basically Perry meets a lady human who has never had an orgasm and then proceeds to give her one. It’s not a very complicated story. The music here is pure Jane’s, expansive and quiet with a compelling undertow:
I met a girl
Who’d never had
I couldn’t believe
She’d never had one
I said, “sit back
And get yourself relaxed”
Unfortunately, that’s about it for me and Porno For Pyros. Sure ‘Cursed Male’ has its moments but too often the band lock in on a second-rate RHCP alt-rock funk sound, given how little I care for first-rate RHCP that was never going to wash much with me. The other criticism was with a lot of the lyrics, Perry seemingly burned a little from some of the swirling controversies of his previous crew, deliberately dumbed down the delivery a little, gave it a bit of a nursery rhyme quality at times – personally given that this was the man who wrote 1537-fave ‘Standing In The Shower … Thinking’, I don’t think that’s good enough.
Unlike the little rocket dude on the cover Porno For Pyros never really does quite get into orbit for me, never brings me to eargasm no matter how I sit back and get myself relaxed. You should never go back to an old squeeze.
*I know, I know, I know normal folk don’t know this sort of thing and quite probably shouldn’t. I am kinda proud though.
**named after an advert for fireworks in a bongo mag.
^my aunt once worked for a sales company where they actually used to talk like that to their staff.
^^The 7″, which I slavishly bought came with a great cover of ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story too.