Jane’s Addiction Nothing Shocking- 1988
RMR Album Rating- 9
One of the most shocking aspects of Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing Shocking is that it wasn’t the album that brought alternative rock to the mainstream.
Nirvana’s Nevermind certainly gets credit for that accolade; nevertheless, Nothing Shocking is a completely timeless album that was decisively groundbreaking when it came out, and even though it didn’t get the credit for it at the time—it was certainly one of the albums that bridged the gap between standard hard rock and alternative rock.
Jane’s Addiction provided a revolutionary alternative to the existing hard rock scene on Nothing Shocking by simply providing alternatives. The record has songs that are as heavy as metal songs, but not at all metal. It has songs that are softer and calmer than ballads, but they don’t sound anything like ballads, and lastly– it has songs that weren’t comparable to any pre-existing type of song at the time of its release. These songs didn’t fit squarely into any music box that existed at the time; they were a completely new alternative to the industry standard.
It is also important to point out that Jane’s Addiction added an element of artistic integrity to Nothing Shocking; therefore, not only was it one of the first alternative rock albums, but it can also be called one of the first alternative-art rock albums. Nothing Shocking is certainly not a concept album, but it is a thematic album that focuses many of its songs around the ocean and the mountains. My personal take on the theme is that the mountains represent a personality of rigidity and steadfastness, and the ocean represents one of fluidity and mellowness. Several of the songs like “The Ocean,” “Ocean Size,” “Had A Dad,” and “Mountain Song” cover these themes, and this thematic battle of rigidity verses fluidity comes to a climax in “I Had A Dad,” with lyrics that determine that a “fountain” (sometimes the natural combination of mountains and the sea) is the greatest result that one can achieve. Here are those lyrics to “Had a Dad”: Well I, spoke to the mountain/ I listened to the sea/ They both told me that the fountain/ Was the best that you could be.” (Click here to listen to Had A Dad).
As for the other songs, not only are they all great, but they are also extremely diverse. “Ocean Size,” the aforementioned “Had a Dad,” and “Mountain Song” are all extremely heavy and hard-hitting. Then you have “Summertime Rolls” and “Jane Says,” which are very mellow. Plus, there’s “Ted, Just Admit it…” and “Pigs in Zen,” which combine all the heaviness and mellowness from the album into one coherent package, and if the theme of the album is the pairing of rigidity and fluidity, then those two songs epitomize that idea. So, here’s a sample of each of the song types:
Click here to listen to Mountain Song
Click here to listen to Summertime Rolls
Click here to listen to Ted, Just Admit It…
I’ll lastly mention the playing, which is well performed by everyone, but I’ll pay special mention to Eric Avery’s bass playing. His bass lines are incredible in every song, and his slow bass lead-in on “Mountain Song” makes the song sound even heavier and more powerful, once it does kick in. He also wrote the music for “Mountain Song,” “Had a Dad,” “Jane Says,” and “Summertime Rolls,” which along with “Ted, Just Admit It…” are really the signature songs of the album.
So before the big three from 1991– Nirvana’s Nevermind, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, and Pearl Jam’s Ten, which are widely credited with putting alternative rock on the map, Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing Shocking had already been around for 4-years, and it not only provided a true alternative to the current rock scene at that time, but it did it in an artistic way.
Nothing Shocking almost never came to fruition. The band’s music writing process was a collaborative effort, but during the recording of the album “Farrell stated he wanted 50 percent of the band’s publishing royalties for writing the lyrics, as well as a quarter of the remaining half for writing music, adding up to 62.5 percent total” (Wikipedia). As a result of this, Avery, Navarro, and Perkins essentially quite the band due to Farrell’s unfounded demands and his unwillingness to comprise. Ultimately, they stayed together and recorded the album, but Ferrell stuck to his demands, which left only 12.5% for each of the other band members. To me this is something shocking and unfair, especially considering Avery wrote most of my favorite tracks on the album. I think Ferrell should have been more like the ocean and less like the mountain.
Rate this album now! Scroll over the stars and click to rate.