Thursday, December 10, 2009

453 Ritual De Lo Habitual- Hard (to fathom) Rock

Album: Ritual De Lo Habitual.
Artist: Jane's Addiction.
Year: 1990
Genre: Rock.


  1. Stop!
  2. No One's Leaving
  3. Ain't No Right
  4. Obvious
  5. Been Caught Stealing
  6. Three Days
  7. Then She Did...
  8. Of Course
  9. Classic Girl

Hard rock albums are traditionally not slow burners. Nobody says things like: “I didn’t get ACDC at first but after really spending time with them I understood the subtleties. It just takes a couple of listens.” Hard Rock is a very immediate genre and you can tell if an album is a winner or not after about the first thirty seconds of song one. An exception to this rule is Ritual De Lo Habitual by Janes Addiction which is hard rock but not as we know it.

There’s a definite, if unwritten, set of rules for hard rock releases: simple lyrics about sex, drugs and rock and roll, basic song structures, melodic guitar solos, vocals with swagger and no attempts to subvert the genre. You can throw in some strings if you want a bit of extra pomp and if you feel like including a ballad or two that’s up to you. But don’t go varying from the format too much or your album won’t sell. That’s the current thinking but nobody thought to tell Jane’s Addiction who break all the rules. Songs seems to drop tempo's as if they have an expiration date and then suddenly move in a completely different direction. Riffs seem to compete with each other and strange overdubs and interludes totally transgress the Keep It Simple Stupid concept that usually serves Hard Rock so well.

The most commercially accessible thing on the album is the lead single Been Caught Steelin which is definitely a happy slice of funk and probably the best song about shoplifting since that old Cliff Richard number: “Shove a tube of jaffa cakes down your trousers.” It grooves along with some snappy drums and jangly guitars and Perry Farrell's really odd vocals. There’s something about Farrell that just doesn’t fit the hard Rock mold. He has high pitched tones and a strangely casual approach. Most metal singers feel the need to belt as if their life depended on it. Farrell often sings as if his mind is on something else, which is odd because the sudden changes in song direction would suggest a need to concentrate pretty hard.

While it was never a single, the strongest track on the album is the 11 minute epic Three Days which progresses it’s way through a range of moods and styles before it finally ends. There are enough ideas in this track to sustain most bands for an entire release and its definitely one of those songs that really explodes when it’s played at a high volume. If it’s shaking your walls then it’s rocking your mind. On the whole it’s a shame Jane’s addiction didn’t allow it the space to be the albums main focus. It comes hot on the heels of Caught Steelin and then segues into another long, but not nearly as memorable track. Three Days deserves to be the finale of the album by itself so it doesn’t get lost in amongst everything else that’s going on.

Ritual de lo Habitual has really grown on me. I like it more with each listen and even writing this review has made me more appreciative. Highly recommended.

Highlight: Three Days and Been caught steelin.

Lowlight: Then She did.

Influenced by: Led Zeppelin and a refreshing desire to not sound like they were slavishly imitating them.
Influenced: Again, not sure. I should probably look this up.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "this album is a major dissapointment. If it wasnt for the solid drum work, it would be completely USELESS. perry ferrel voice is already irritating enough without the excess reverb used to try to make it bigger sounding. "Three days" is 23hrs and 55 minutes too long, "been caught stealing" gives me a rash and "stop" makes me want to jump out of a window. Im all for bands who arent afraid to take chances with their music- i just think that this was one experiment whose funding should have been abruptly cut short"

-I've read a lot of Amazon reviews in my time but I've never heard someone blame skin complaints on an album before.

So do you share the addiction or would you rather be in rehab? Let me know below.

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