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Jane's Addiction

A Cabinet of Curiosities (Rhino)

Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Dec. 11, 2009

Box Sets

Jane's Addiction

A Cabinet of Curiosities (Rhino)

The most convincing reason to purchase Jane's Addiction's A Cabinet of Curiosities, a 3-CD/1-DVD collection of rarities and live recordings, may be the cabinet itself. The latched wooden treasure chest contains an immaculate 64-page booklet and miniature worry dolls and tarot cards for each band member – androgynous provocateur Perry Farrell ("El Diablito"), guitarist Dave Navarro ("La Calavera"), and the powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Eric Avery ("El Alacran") and drummer Stephen Perkins ("La Aragna") – capturing the essence of Jane's brief but potent heathen magic. This set overlaps plenty with Addiction's first reunion cash-in, 1997's Kettle Whistle, but previously unreleased live cover scorchers of the Stooges ("1970") and Led Zeppelin (Navarro's shearing "Whole Lotta Love"), not to mention Deadicated's "Ripple" and the ubiquitous "L.A. Medley," demonstrate the group's witches' brew of influences. The demo versions that dominate throughout are surprisingly similar to the eventual studio counterparts, especially those on the band's major label debut, 1988's Nothing's Shocking, a testament to the totality of Jane's early vision. The exceptions are the almost industrial grind of "Pigs in Zen" and Farrell's vulnerability in the acoustic "Jane Says," both from 1986, and shambled folk kiss-off "City." Disc three's titanic 76-minute set at the Hollywood Palladium documents Jane's primordial hedonism at its peak, just after the release of the 1990 alternative touchstone Ritual de lo Habitual. While the accompanying DVD merely couples the band's cutting-edge video catalog with a brief, three-song set for MTV Italy from 1990 and the candid short film "Soul Kiss" from the previous year, this Cabinet still makes a nice piece of furniture.

***

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