‘Oh no it’s that same asshole again.  I thought it would never come to this.  Look, the guy threw a Birkenstock … this guy’s a real moron – he doesn’t even understand fashion!

Now that’s what I call onstage repartee.  That’s taken from a live version of ‘Ain’t No Right’ recorded at the Hollywood Palladium in 1991.  One of the B-sides of Jane’s Addiction Classic Girl 12″ that I have nostalgically revisited after chewing the fat about them over at Geoff’s place*.

Look, the short version is that Jane’s Addiction changed my musical life in 1988 when I first bought Nothing’s Shocking, a year later I slept in a doorway in London in order to see them at a club date** and a year after that they released an LP that, almost impossibly, managed to live up to all my expectations Ritual de lo Habitual; bless its pointed little head.

Classic Girl is taken from that album and is a single I bought solely because it boasts of a picture disc of the Santeria-style Ritual de lo Habitual front cover artwork.  Not that ‘Classic Girl’ isn’t a great track in its own right, it is, a lovely stately sweep of a song; a homage to a muse.  The lyrics are garbage when you read them, especially when Perry Farrell used to be such a great lyricist, but they work perfectly in the context of the song.  Dave Navarro somehow conjures a widescreen off-kilter guitar jangle and when the track rises into a jog about halfway through it is Jane’s at their nimble, inventive best.  It’s all very post-coital sounding.

The B-sides are two very frenetic live tracks ‘No One’s Leaving’ and ‘Ain’t No Right’, all subtlety is abandoned for sheer speed and you get to hear the band flex the crowd like a whip. Crack! Maybe it wasn’t to Mr Birkenstock’s liking, but I like it.  I’ll probably play it again in another decade, or so.

Now when I reached for my Jane’s my hand dallied on my James.  I heard their 1997 track ‘She’s a Star’ in a shop a few days ago and it has been lurking around the fringes of my mind since.  I have a promo 12″ version of James She’s A Star, that I vaguely remember winning way back then.

Look, the short version is that James never really changed my musical life. in fact they were always far more of a Mrs 1537 band than mine.  But, they produced some great, great singles – I remember us blasting their Greatest Hits when we were decorating our first house and finding, to my surprise, that I knew and loved most of it.  Sure, I owned Sit Down and had danced to it more times than I care to remember, often maliciously dancing on the fingers of any of my fellow students who got in my way by sitting down on the dancefloor^ but that was it, although ‘Come Home’ and ‘How Was It For You?’ were also firm favourites.

Which is all sort of irrelevant.  She’s A Star gives us two remixes of the title track, one by Dave Angel and the other by Biosphere dude, Geir Jenssen.  ‘Dave Angel’s ‘Pat’ Remix’ takes away the song’s structure totally, adds a very nifty drum and bass beat and does some interesting things with the vocals, swopping out the melody for a whole new almost Oriental sensibility, he really does claim the track as his own; if I didn’t like the original so much I’d probably like it a lot more.

The ‘Andrea’s Biosphere Remix’, features something rather cute, a keyboard solo from Jenssen’s 8-month old daughter hidden part-way through the mix, it has all the enthusiasm and technique you’d expect from someone of her age.  I am less keen on this mix, it sounds like being on some serious downers, lying helplessly drooling on someone’s bedroom floor, the music having slowed down to the point where you can see the notes pulsing like sonic raindrops in the air; or so I’d imagine.

The real kicker though is the 1990 ‘Weatherall’s Remix’ of their classic ‘Come Home’, this was a really seminal moment in the whole mix of guitar bands and dancey stuff which led to almost all my fave music to dance to in the 90’s.  I love Andy Weatherall as a remixer, he’s clever in terms of what he jettisons, compared to what he keeps and so his remixes, vastly extended and clubescular as they may be always bear enough tropes from their point of origin to please a fan of the original track – the surprisingly crunchy guitar hidden away in the middle of this track being a case in point.  Listening to this used to mean getting ready to go out, now I’m doing it in order to put off fumigating my chicken coop.

Sadly, that last sentence is not a euphemism.

776 Down.

PS.  Not that the original version is on here, but hey I’m feeling nostalgic.  They made some great singles, but they really wouldn’t be much use in a fight, would they?

PPS.  Part of my collection of Jane’s Addiction flyers.

*you know Geoff’s place, right? one-horse shotgun shack on the edge of town, no indoor sanitation but some of the best Goddamn moonshine this side of Thunder Bay.  True story.

**totally unbeknownst to my folks.

^yup, we made our own entertainment back in 1991, none of this internet nonsense that the youngsters have today.  If I wanted to see pictures of a [CENSORED] [CENSORED] a [CENSORED] with a baguette, I couldn’t go and click somewhere seedy, I used to just have to try and imagine it in my head.  True story.

20 thoughts on “James’ Addiction

  1. Indoor sanitation is overrated!
    Brilliant picture-face photo – I too was surprised when I got James’ greatest hits and knew more than I had expected.
    And I didn’t catch the lego guy creepily peeking out of the record until I looked at it a 2nd time!

  2. Jane’s Addiction and James in the same post! Who’da thought? Works for me, however, love both of these bands. Saw James live in 2008. Never saw JA but probably wouldn’t now because it would be the same as seeing them “Back then”.

  3. It’ll come as no surprise to learn that Classic Girl is my favourite angular jingly jangly tunes ever. It took the jingle jangle of yon Byrds and added some dirt and crushed glass. Always loved Perry’s vocal… especially during the ‘great ideas’ verse.

    (Not so) Strangely enough, I dropped the needle on Ritual de lo habitual after Geoff’s post. I still marvel at it’s awesomeness. What a statement… and that second side is perfect. They were peerless.

    James… mnah.

  4. Not really familiar with either of these ‘J’ bands, though I did see James at WOMAD in Cornwall some time ago (mid 90s I think). But what I really cannot get my head around is that you reviewed ‘She’s a star’ without mentioning/swooning over Keeley Hawes. Are you kidding me?

  5. One of the best albums of my youth right here. ‘Ritual’ was everything you needed in an album. It was metal, punk, funk, pop, and had some nasty bits to make people feel mildly uncomfortable if they weren’t in the know. ‘Shocking’ was great, too, but this one had some serious magic to it.

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