Test of the Boomerang: Curiosities Abound…

Written by Music, Test of the Boomerang

I love the new Bob Dylan album. I do. Because the older Bob Dylan gets, the more he sounds like Tom Waits. Seriously, though, Together Through Life is another solid, rich album. You can check out the zydeco vibe on “It’s All Good” in the mix down below. Also you’ll find some new Neil Young, some old George Harrison and a couple artists covering the Grateful Dead, including Jane’s Addiction.

Rhino has just released A Cabinet of Curiosities, the ultimate Jane’s Addiction “live, rare, and unreleased” package. A little wooden curio cabinet filled with voodoo dolls, lyrics, reproductions of old fliers, along with the discs (a regular edition in a plain ol’ cardboard slipcase will be released next month). You’ll have to supply your own eyeliner and Nag Champa incense, though.

I got into Jane’s Addiction during the heady summer of 1991 (or was it 1990?) A friend had taped Ritual de lo Habitual for me and while at first I didn’t like “that weird LA shit,” I had to admit it was growing on me. I was having a cigarette (it may even have been a clove cigarette) and listening to side two’s centerpiece, “Three Days,” unfolding like the warm summer evening outside.

Two girls heard the music and came to my window — they crawled into my dorm room and we all sat down on my futon and got acquainted. We instantly became friends. We shared all our stories and some grass. Staying up all night talking, laughing, and playing that tape over and over endlessly. In the morning the three of us watched the sun come up and we ate waffles together.

Jane’s Addiction were the perfect house band for a summer full of art school pretensions. They united the Birkenstock with the combat boot. If you saw white girls with dreadlocks back then, they weren’t going to see Phish, they were going to see Jane’s Addiction. Everyone, and I mean everyone, loved Jane’s Addiction.

And what was not to love? A band from L.A. that had more in common with the likes of X or Love or the Doors than they had with, say, Guns ‘N’ Roses. With a timbral full of Los Angelinos Catholic imagery, one patent-leather creeper firmly in the roots of LA deathrock and punk, and the other ankle-deep in a bongload of lysergic metal riffs amalgamated with earthy funk and soul. Perry Farrel’s Crispin Glover meets Darby Crash meets Father Jim Morrison was the perfect frontman for our times; not the disaffected and reluctant Kurt Cobain, or the flannelly Eddie Vedder, he was equal parts freakshow carny and freakshow himself.

But of course, we all know the story, like any great band, Jane’s Addiction broke up and then reformed, only to break up again. But this year, a fully reunited Jane’s Addiction hit the bricks for the first time since 1991, playing a now-legendary Playboy Party at South by Southwest and playing alongside Nine Inch Nails for a full blown tour.

While the contents of the set are of the exhaustive “clearing out the vaults” variety, I can’t help but wonder if there are still fans out there willing to pony up the dough for something this massively in-depth. I like to think that there are. I did a lot of Jane’s Addiction collecting back in the day, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Having all of these tracks here in one place — anomalies like “Bobhaus,” their live Bob Dylan/Bauhaus mash-up, their cover of “Ripple” (complete with a jam on “The Other One”) from the Deadicated tribute album, endless demo tapes, and a complete 1990 show from The Palladium — is pretty satisfying. Those hissy murky tapes and energetic live recordings still crackle with that mystical (tantric?) sensuality and even multiple takes on a few songs are a joy to listen to.

Unlike The Beatles Anthology series, this doesn’t feel like a wistful retrospective. It feels more like a deliberate clearing away of the past to perhaps make room for something new. Something to fill future cabinets, as well as warm summer evenings.

Easy Star All Stars

Speaking of the Beatles, Reggae collective Easy Star All Stars have just released Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band, their reggae re-creation of Sgt. Pepper‘s. It’s all here, from the crowd ambiance at the beginning all the way down to the locked inner groove at the end. It’s a lot of fun, and while it may seem like a clever novelty, this is a seriously great disc. Check out the breezy ska rendition of “She’s Leaving Home” in the mix below.

Enjoy the tunes, kids. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more summer festie news, the second installment of my Grateful Dead rehearsals, demos and outtakes series, and more good vibes. Take care, and please enjoy Sierra Nevada Torpedo responsibly.

George Harrison – Beware of Darkness from All Things Must Pass (1970)

Phil Lesh & Friends (featuring Chris Robinson) – Wiser Time from Phil Lesh and Friends Live at Warfield Theater on December 18th, 2004

Railroad Earth – Terrapin Station from Railroad Earth live at Sunshine Daydream Campground on August 7th, 2004

Bob Dylan – It’s All Good from Together Through Life (2009)

Bob Weir – Jack Straw (1971 acoustic demo) from The 1971 Ace Acoustic Demos (1971)

Easy Star All Stars – She’s Leaving Home from Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band (2009)

Medeski Martin & Wood – Seven Deadlies from Tonic (2000)

Kate Gaffney – Soulshine from Kate Gaffney Live at Torch Club on February 10th, 2009

Neil Young – Light a Candle from Fork in the Road (2009)

Sebadoh – Willing to Wait from Harmacy (1996)

Janes Addiction – Ripple from A Cabinet of Curiosities (2009) originally released on Deadicated (1991)

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