April 21, 2009
Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Alternative/Indie Rock, Dance-Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, College Rock

Album Review

One of the most lavish box sets ever devoted to an alternative rock act, A Cabinet of Curiosities is packaged in a wooden cabinet with a metal clasp, and includes a thick book, tarot cards, and tiny voodoo dolls. The packaging alone makes it an obvious necessity for fans, but the music inside the cabinet is problematic. Including three CDs of mostly unreleased demo or live material, plus a DVD of live footage and video clips, A Cabinet of Curiosities illustrates that, for Jane's Addiction, the finished product was by far the best possible way to hear the band's recordings -- no surprise, given that Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual are two of the best LPs of the alternative era. Jane's Addiction was powerful but also very eccentric, which makes minor variations in their songs -- which is what listeners hear on the majority of the studio demos here -- sound oddly diminished in comparison. It's not just that the band picked the right version for release; from the evidence here, they entered the studio with virtually every song laid out and arranged very close to its finished version, leaving little intriguing about their demos. An example is "Up the Beach," unchanged in form, just lacking the punch and clarity that a first-rate production gave it to make it the powerhouse it is on Nothing's Shocking. Vocally, Perry Farrell's attempts at summoning the spirit of the frontman worked much better in the studio and on-stage after he grasped the most effective way to deliver each song. And though they were a powerful live force, the live tracks here (which comprise all of the third disc) make it clear that the band's appeal was visual as well as aural. As could be expected, the songs that never got an airing on their studio albums are the most interesting. Although it's clear why "Suffer Some" languished in the vaults, it's a more intriguing listen (and says more about the band) than any of the demos of released songs. The DVD is unsurprisingly the most interesting disc, including Soul Kiss (featuring the full version of the video for "Mountain Song," which MTV had banned), six of their video clips, and three tracks recorded live in 1990 for MTV Italy.
John Bush, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Jane Says [Radio Tokyo Demo][#]
  2. Pigs in Zen [Radio Tokyo Demo]
  3. Mountain Song [Radio Tokyo Demo]
  4. Had a Dad [Radio Tokyo Demo]
  5. I Would for You [Radio Tokyo Demo]
  6. Idiots Rule [#][Demo Version]
  7. Classic Girl [#][Demo Version]
  8. Up the Beach [#][Demo Version]
  9. Suffer Some [#][Demo Version]
  10. Thank You Boys [#][Demo Version]
  11. Summertime Rolls [#][Demo Version]
  12. City [#][Demo Version]
  13. Ocean Size [#][Demo Version]
  14. Stop! [#][Demo Version]
  15. Standing in the Shower...Thinking [#][Demo Version]
  16. Ain't No Right [#][Demo Version]
  17. Three Days [#][Demo Version]
  18. Ted, Just Admit It... [#][Demo Version]
  19. Maceo [#][Demo Version]
  20. No One's Leaving [#][Demo Version]
  21. My Time [Rehearsal][#]
  22. Been Caught Stealing [12" Remix Version]
  23. Ripple
  24. Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey
  25. L.A. Medley: L.A. Woman/Nausea/Lexicon Devil [Live, 1989]
  26. Kettle Whistle [Live, 1987][#]
  27. Whole Lotta Love [Live, 1987][#]
  28. 1970 [Live, 1987][#]
  29. Bobhaus [Live, 1989][#]
  30. Drum Intro [Live, 1990][#]
  31. Up the Beach [Live, 1990]
  32. Whores [Live, 1990][#]
  33. 1% [Live, 1990][#]
  34. No One's Leaving [Live, 1990]
  35. Ain't No Right [Live, 1990]
  36. Then She Did... [Live, 1990][#]
  37. Had a Dad [Live, 1990][#]
  38. Been Caught Stealing [Live, 1990][#]
  39. Three Days [Live, 1990]
  40. Mountain Song [Live, 1990][#]
  41. Stop! [Live, 1990]
  42. Summertime Rolls [Live, 1990][#]
  43. Ocean Size [Live, 1990][#]
  44. Mountain Song [DVD][Version]
  45. City [DVD]
  46. Had a Dad [DVD]
  47. Ocean Size [DVD]
  48. Stop! [DVD]
  49. Been Caught Stealing [DVD]
  50. Classic Girl [DVD]
  51. Ain't No Right [DVD]
  52. Whores [DVD][Live]
  53. Then She Did... [DVD][Live]
  54. Three Days [DVD][Live]
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