Back in 1988, Jane’s Addiction released their major label debut, Nothing’s Shocking. Objections to the cover art (a sculpture of nude female conjoined twins—oh, the horror!) and an unairable video for the single “Mountain Song” (also due to brief nudity) didn’t help its prospects initially. Though it didn’t make a huge commercial splash initially it has since become regarded as a rock classic. The team at Audio Fidelity has recently reissued the album as a limited edition 24 karat gold remaster. The mastering by Kevin Gray allows this sonically dense recording to really breathe. The nuances among the layers of guitars really come through with greater clarity than the standard CD version.
Nothing’s Shocking was a prime candidate for careful remastering and Audio Fidelity hasn’t disappointed. The way the shrieking and wailing vocals by the band’s visionary front man and lyricist Perry Farrell ride the waves of Dave Navarro’s tangled guitar lines sounds utterly blissful. Eric Avery’s round, rubbery bass lines have real presence, never overpowered by the drumming of Stephen Perkins. Speaking of that rhythm section, a great example of this reissue’s quality is the opening of “Ted, Just Admit It…” with its spacious drums ping-ponging around before locking into a groove with the bass. It sounds warmer and deeper than ever before.
The album’s hit, the indelible, steel drum-enhanced classic “Jane Says,” is the perfect place to hear the high end benefits of the remaster. The strummed acoustic guitars have a delicate, in-the-room presence. The dynamics are great throughout the album as well. Listen to the quietly picked guitar arpeggios and soft falsetto cooing that open “Ocean Size,” followed by the sledgehammer entry of the full band. Audio Fidelity prides itself on not succumbing to the mastering trend of compressing the audio and flattening the nuances out in an overly loud wash. The subtleties are retained, and that is evident on Nothing’s Shocking. You pay a slight premium to acquire their individually numbered CDs, but for fans of this album the extra few bucks are well worth it.
For more information about Audio Fidelity and their process, as well as the other titles available in their series of remasters, please visit their official website.