Supergroups are a staple of rock music. They sometimes skip generations, but it’s inevitable that a group of friends from well known bands will get together to jam and record sometime. The Panic Channel is such a group, featuring three former Jane’s Addiction members (guitar hero and TV host Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, who went on to play with Jane’s front man Perry Farrell in Porno for Pyros and bassist Chris Chaney, who recently toured with Alanis) and a relative newcomer, vocalist Steve Isaacs.
One would think the Jane’s influence would be all over this album, but that’s hardly the case. In what sounds like a bid for commercial acceptance, Panic Channel produces very clean, very melodic but rather standard rock songs that make you shrug your shoulders rather than inspire you to mosh.
The boys from Jane’s have now reached middle age, and they’re showing one of the signs of growing older—feet of clay. While One is certainly well played, it lacks the experimental and improvisational chops that made these guys innovators in the first place. There’s no crime in creating a commercial effort, but it is one to create something that’s largely uninteresting.
The best songs, “Bloody Mary”, a deep look into Navarro’s drug habit, and “Outsider”, an observation on writing music, are twisted masterpieces which dig beneath the façade of rock and allow the listener to peer into souls darkened by the remnants of a career in the music industry. “Night One” also breaks away from the pack, offering some marvelous harmonics from Navarro. Had the entire album swung the way of these three fine songs, One would make you sweat bullets with each listen.
Vocalist Isaacs modulates with tremendous flair and does his best to establish his identity amongst his backup band of giants. However, there are times when he lapses into a Lou Gramm/Foreigner sound which detracts from some of the devastating lyrics he slings throughout the recording. Isaacs will likely grow as a singer with touring and future recording, and once he’s able to nail down a style for himself, he’ll be one to watch.
Supergroups sometimes fall under their own weight and it’s possible that One was hatched pre-maturely. It shows tremendous potential, but as a debut it doesn’t deliver the kick fans of Navarro and company will expect. Still, I hope Panic Channel continues to record between the myriad commitments of its members. The standout numbers on One show the group has a number of successes ahead of them.