Jane’s Addiction: A Cabinet Of Curiosities

Jane’s Addiction: A Cabinet Of Curiosities

 

Jane’s Addiction wisely sticks to its creative peak—a.k.a. the only good years, 1986-1991—with the sprawling Cabinet Of Curiosities, a four-disc package clearly aimed more at diehards than casual fans. The elaborate packaging is a dead giveaway: It’s a chipboard and plastic box made to look like a curio cabinet, and it comes complete with four Jane’s Addiction tarot cards and tiny little dolls. And then there’s the music, which largely consists of demos recorded prior to the band’s 1988 breakthrough, Nothing’s Shocking. Every song from that disc is represented in demo form here, and while none provides any sort of revelation—they’re pretty much all inferior to their better-recorded versions—it’s interesting to see how that scrappy energy translated into one of the defining records of the era. Some of these curiosities might’ve been better left in the closet: “Maceo” is just dumb, and a cover of Sly Stone’s “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” (featuring Ice-T) probably made sense only at the very first Lollapalooza. But the third disc, a complete live performance from 1990, lives up to the celebrity hype heaped on the band in the accompanying booklet. Billy Corgan, Henry Rollins, Slash, and others line up to testify about the mad magic that Jane’s Addiction circa 1989 could produce. Reunions and post-Jane’s bands have sullied the legend—especially the Eric Avery-less 2003 album Strays—but Cabinet serves as a reminder of a band that burned super-bright for a short time. If nothing else, it might inspire spins of Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual De Lo Habitual, both of which still hold up mighty well 20 years later.

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