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Book Review: Jane’s Addiction: In The Studio by Jake Brown

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In the Studio is a series by writer Jake Brown that allows readers an inside glimpse into the process of making music. Subjects so far have included producer Rick Rubin, Motorhead, Heart, and Kayne West in books for different publishers. Jane’s Addiction have now been given their time in the spotlight by Brown, and while there’s interesting information gathered about the instruments and gadgets used to create the songs, it is flawed in its presentation and execution.

Nothing’s Shocking, Ritual de lo Habitual, and Strays are the main focus of the book. Their first album, the live Jane’s Addiction, is mentioned in passing with the introduction of the band. Brown also covers the first two post-JA groups, bassist Eric Avery and guitarist Dave Navarro’s Deconstruction and singer Perry Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins’ Porno for Pyros. Farrell’s two solo projects, Song Yet To Be Sung and Satellite Party, are also covered but no other work by the other three. The book is up to date for 2010 as the brief tenure of Duff McKagan as Jane’s bassist is covered.

The book is only semi-authorized as Brown appears to have only spoken with producers Dave Jerden and Bob Ezrin and engineer Ronnie S. Champage. Band member’s comments about the albums and the work on them are taken from previously published interviews, though only the magazines or websites are listed and not any dates or URLs when and where they occurred. It’s interesting to read statements made about music and their careers that years later find the band members contradicting themselves. For example, Perkins says what must have been about 1991 when they first broke up that they didn’t “want to depend on any set of songs to get us through our career” yet that’s what happened on the recent reunion with Avery as they played the same basic set every night on tour.

The whole book has a self-published feel to it. The front cover only has a picture of a soundboard, and on the back there’s a tiny picture of the Strays edition of the band. The inside also comes across amateurish. The choice to justify the text is a mistake as there are times when huge spaces between words occur. Brown apparently had no proofreader help him. “Heroin” is repeatedly spelled wrong and “soundscapes” is broken into two words on one occasion; titles of songs and albums are inconsistently formatted, some times in quotes other times in italics. “Mountain Song” is incorrectly referred to as Nothing’s Shocking “album opener” and Ritual de lo Habitual is mistakenly referred to as their sophomore album and once given the wrong year of release.

Brown comes off like too much of a Perry Farrell fanboy, overly reverential in his constant praise. I was a huge fan of Jane’s Addiction as they went from local heroes to worldwide prominence. I played their music incessantly after first discovering Nothing’s Shocking towards the end of summer 1988, watched their videos many times over, and saw them multiple times when they played around Los Angeles. But comparing what Perry Farrell did for Generation X to what John Lennon and Bob Dylan did for the Baby Boomers is a bit over the top. Brown also gives too much credit to Farrell for the band’s success and makes it seem like it was his decision alone to end the band on the Lollapalooza tour.

Jane’s Addiction: In The Studio is a good resource for fans of the band who want to learn more. It’s just unfortunate Jake Brown has done a disservice to himself and his series releasing it in what comes across like a first draft of the book. Hopefully, future editions will be improved.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS