Although their ideas are at times overblown and their lyrics pretentious, Jane’s Addiction’s musical chemistry was never anything less than amazing. One of the most original and influential bands of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, their bold sound generally featured an arty and innovative melding of funk and metal. The principal components of that sound were Dave Navarro’s unique guitar histrionics, Stephen Perkins’ powerful tribal drum pounding, Eric Avery’s throbbing bass playing, and Perry Farrell’s ridiculously high pitched voice (which makes Jane’s Addiction a love ‘em or hate ‘em proposition to many people).
The band’s second album but first studio/major label album (their lesser self-titled debut was a live album released by Triple X records), Nothing’s Shocking is a consistently fascinating if not entirely consistent alternative rock record at a time when such a label actually meant something. The band’s spectacular sound is immediately showcased on “Up The Beach,” a suitably dreamy and epic entrance into the world of Jane’s Addiction, while the aptly titled “Ocean Size” starts acoustically before exploding. “Had A Dad” is more straightforward and metallic, but it’s also catchy as hell, and it has some great guitar and memorably autobiographical lyrics from Farrell. “Ted, Just Admit It…” is surely a song that will polarize listeners, but though Farrell’s vocals and lyrics (about serial killer Ted Bundy) are at times grating, this powerful song is more than salvaged by the band’s superior musicianship. Next, “Standing In The Shower Thinking” is a breezy funkfest, while “Summertime Rolls” begins quietly before evolving into a droney epic; yet for all of the song’s atmospheric strengths (which are not inconsiderable) it’s one of the few tracks here that doesn’t really take off like I expected it to. Fortunately, the same can’t be said for the towering “Mountain Song,” one of the band’s very best rockers, while “Idiots Rule” is a minor, atypical horn-driven effort that offers more funky fun. Which brings us to “Jane Says,” one of the band’s signature songs whose catchy pop melody and lyrics (about the sad plight of a junkie prostitute) get to me every time. Had the album ended there it would’ve been fine by me, for “Thank You Boys” is just a jazzy little minute long interlude, and I’ve never been a big fan of the hard rocking but obnoxious “Pigs In Zen,” which, as a compact disc only add on, can really be considered a bonus track, anyway (not that anyone listens to records or tapes anymore).
This was the first album to gain the band some notoriety, in no small part due to the explicit album cover designed by the multi-talented Farrell himself (which featured Siamese twins with their hair on fire), but the best was yet to come.