Imagine, for a moment, a world in which Jane's Addiction never existed. Nothing's Shocking was never released in the summer of '88. Lollapalooza never launched three summers later. Perry Bernstein remained on the East Coast, never boarding that Greyhound Bus and heading across country to Los Angeles like so many dreamers and visionaries before him did. What kind of world would that be?
August 2013 marks 25 years since the release of Nothing's Shocking — an album like no other then, and like few others now, as influential as it is. Many critics were puzzled in '88 upon first hearing those 11 songs. "A classic love 'em or hate 'em outfit," Rolling Stone observed. "The band is great. And it is also full of shit. Often at the same time." The music runs from proggy pomp ("Up the Beach"), to stripped-down, barking punk ("Idiot's Rule," "Had A Dad"), to thundering hard rock ("Mountain Song," "Ocean Size"). It's dubby and doomy one moment ("Ted Just Admit It," which features samples of dialogue from serial killer Ted Bundy) and sweet and pastoral the next ("Summertime Rolls"). There's whimsy inside ("Standing in the Shower Thinking"), hilarity, too (the faux lounge-jazz of "Thank You Boys"), and… there's "Pigs In Zen." How does one even describe "Pigs in Zen" except to ask, "What other songs are like 'Pigs in Zen?'" Oh, yes, and it also contains modern rock's "Free Bird" — the sad, sweet, and eternal "Jane Says," a steel-drum-driven pop gem that everyone can sing along to. The riff and the chorus are in our DNA a quarter-century on. Jane's Addiction is still a frighteningly powerful live band and an ever-exploring recording act. Original members Farrell, Dave Navarro, and Stephen Perkins reunited in 1997, then again in 2001, and released a third studio album (fourth if you count the live 1987 self-titled release, known to most fans as "Triple X," for the indie label that released it) Strays, which features current Jane's bassist, Chris Chaney, and was produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd's The Wall). In 2011 The Great Escape Artist was released to critical acclaim. "It sounds like a band re-vitalized," Spin raved, while Billboard called the album "a dynamic collection that features some of the band's best work."
So again, take a moment and imagine a world in which Jane's Addiction never existed. It'd be a less exciting place to live, wouldn't it? Here is a band that helped keep rock and roll unpredictable, inspiring, dangerous, and constantly moving forward. As it should be.