I was a huge fan of Jane’s Addiction. Their second album, “Nothing’s Shocking” would have been the soundtrack to a movie made about my freshman year in college. Their next album, “Ritual de lo Habitual” was also very strong with a lot of great music. The band broke up after that with members spinning off in various directions. Jane’s lead singer Perry Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins stayed together and released a couple albums with Porno for Pyros. The first was great, the second was OK, and then they too broke up in 1998.
By the time Perry Farrell released his solo debut, “Song Yet To Be Sung” in 2001, he had been spinning records as a DJ for a while and was getting into more electronic sound. This album features a lot more synthesizer and drum machine than I have heard from him before or since. He also spends less time wailing. He still does wail on this album, but he does some gentle crooning too, always in the service of the groove. Perry Farrel is Jewish (he was born Peretz Bernstein but picked his stage name as a play on ‘peripheral’). The lyrics on “Song Yet To Be Sung” are inspired by Kabballah, a discipline concerned with mystical understanding of the Torah. So you get the occasionally deep and esoteric lyrics you expect from Farrell. You also get some simple melodies dressed up with a lot of accompaniment, which you would also expect from Farrell. The production throughout this disc is great and the whole project just showcases another side of a talented and growing artist.
I have read reviews of this album from people who didn’t like Farrell branching out and moving away from his rock roots. This project completely works for me, though. Farrell shows remarkable versatility, great melodic sense, and a flair for experimentation. You might have trouble laying your hands on it, but give these tracks a listen and you will want to make the effort.
- Song Yet To Be Sung – Here not just the lyrics, but the melodies and harmonies are inspired by Jewish traditions, though this song has a thoroughly modern sound. Ominous synthesizers and tribal drums ooze behind Perry and lots of background vocals.
- Did You Forget – This song starts slow and strange. It stays a little weird, but about a minute in, the percussion kicks in and Perry starts wailing the way you remember from Jane’s Addiction.
- Our Song – A very bouncy, bright, and danceable song. This one almost always lifts my mood when it comes on.
- Say Something – This follows ‘Our Song’ perfectly on the CD. It’s mostly drum machine and layers of vocals, though there is a little synth in the background. Sadly, this sample plays you the bridge, not the verses or the chorus.
- King Z – Oozy percussion and a pleasing piano riff are eventually joined by eerie violin and screaming guitar as Farrell sings another Jewish-inspired melody.
Farrell is a remarkable fellow. He founded Lollapalooza. He has worked with a great many people in a wide variety of styles all over the world. Read about some of his philanthropic work. My only complaint about Farrell is I seem to have had really bad luck when I see him live. I saw a Jane’s Addiction show that was cut short when Farrell was hit in the face by some debris thrown from the audience (understandable). I saw a Porno for Pyros show in Denver that lasted 90 minutes and the band took 2 breaks (inexcusable). I won’t go see him live again, but I will buy anything he releases.