Before guitarist Dave Navarro joined Red Hot Chili Peppers, he was in Jane's Addiction, one of the most brilliant rock bands from the United States.
In my opinion, 1988's Nothing's Shocking and this album, 1990's Ritual de lo Habitual, are definitely Jane's Addiction's. Their biggest hits "Stop!" and "Been Caught Stealing" are both classics too, as well as the longest track "Three Days." But, unfortunately, the bad news about Jane's Addiction was that Ritual de lo Habitual would be their final record before their first breakup sometime back in 1991, just after frontman Perry Farrell had started Lollapalooza.
The album begins with a subversive Spanish "we love your children" prelude, an appropriate lull before the kickstart roar of "Stop," all heavy chords and culture-allusion lyrics molding a breathtaking climax. "No One's Leaving" shreds into the stop-gap void that follows. Coming off a tad pretentious, this song is not one of Jane's best by any means, but the rumbling bass roll and Cliff Notes Nietzsche musings of "ain't no right" immediately rectifies the situation. "Ain't no wrong now, ain't no right," Perry announces, "there's only pleasure and pain" -- the theme song of the Lost City if there ever was one; a dark negation of the Beach Boys ideal and comparable to the shimmering 'Hotel California' muse from a previous generation. "Obvious" is a drifting shout-out to all those backstabbers and parasites the band undoubtedly encountered in their long tenure through the Cali club circuit: "I've worked my fingers to the bone and I won't let you stop me goin' up" -- ironic, considering the band's future, but effective nonetheless. Then the stutter of "Been Caught Stealin'" reminds us that life shouldn't always be taken serious, and to jokingly prove it, stitch criminal mischief into the Top 40. Thus ends the fast and furious side of Ritual. Artiness and introspection follow, the self-indulgent genius that listeners will either passionately love or ardently despise, depending on perspective and individual experience.
"Three Days" is Perry Farrell's masterpiece, a song he will probably never top…but what a way to go out. Composed in five sections, this epic about a ménage a trois begins slow and string-laced, an acoustic prologue of hints and insinuations; before you know it, Perkin's low-thunder rhythms are glinting with the lightning grace of Navarro's skillful chops. Thrash hammering takes over in the second half, sundering the beauty of before. The last breakdown, complete with inarticulate hurrahs and searing solos, winds the song into a sweaty, glorious finale. From this sound and fury chimes in a lone acoustic guitar, soon accompanied by orchestrated sweeps; in this, "Then She Did," Perry gets personal about departed lovers with blue veins and a mother who used to take him out "strolling through the garbage." The eastern-tinged "Of Course" gives us a mournful violin and wink-wink lyrics about childhood games ("one must eat the other"), then reverses the sexual intent with Ritual's beautiful farewell "Classic Girl." "You know for us, these are the days," Perry sings, reminding the youth of a fractured dream not to dwell to hard on life's heartaches, and that time slips away all too quickly. Grasp the glimmer while you can.
To anyone here who doesn't own Ritual de lo Habitual, get it. It's a classic and worth listening to; listen to "Stop!" and "Been Caught Stealing" for a way to kick back and enjoy anything that was around back in the old days.
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