To be honest, it’s a little perplexing as to why Perry Farrell needs a compilation to highlight his career work. As a rock entity and a musical genre seemingly his own, without or mostly with band collaboration, he is a love-him-or-hate-him artist with die hard fans and erstwhile detractors. This would seem to dictate that those with an interest in any of these songs, which do offer up a nice summary of his more popular work, would already own them. Fans have the CDs, and the singles, and the imports, and those who swear only by the enormity of anthems like “Jane Says” and “Been Caught Stealing” and nothing else, have probably secured these tunes through mix tapes or other means. If not, perhaps they’ve taken other more drastic measures, like actually purchasing the two Jane’s Addiction albums from whence they come, Ritual de Lo Habitual and Nothing’s Shocking, respectively.
Still, here we have a 16-song look at Farrell’s recent past. And, as a general proponent of the man and his muse, I can say it’s more than satisfying. The 12” remix of “Been Caught Stealing” is quite refreshing for a song that is still overplayed on mainstream radio, yet will never ultimately lose its value. And while fierce and tatooed Jane’s fans might object the omission of other classics like “Three Days” and “Standing in the Shower,” it needs to be recognized that it’s damn near impossible to sufficiently represent a band of this much importance in the allotted six songs. Plus, Farrell has had other careers (a.k.a. Porno for Pyros), and these are represented as well to present a full picture of the man’s work. And they are. Radio hits like “Pets” and “Tahitian Moon” are here, as well as the beautiful “Kimberly Austin” and the hypnotic “100 Ways,” from Good God’s Urge. (These tunes are enough to make Porno seem the eminently more likeable band of two to the non pre-decided mind.) Throw in Porno’s pop-stomping “Hard Charger,” from the Private Parts soundtrack, and Jane’s blood boiling sing along “Stop,” and you’ve got yourself a good time.
Only the four cover songs prove happily puzzling. While it’s nice to recognize that Farrell’s sound can permeate anything (Porno’s cover of Leonard Bernstein and Steven Sondheim’s “Tonight” is actually quite interesting), his solo rendition of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” is weak and annoying. It’s like Farrell channeling Robert Plant and singing you a story from his deathbed. As a rebound, however, Porno’s cover of the Dead’s “Ripple” is quite engaging, almost enough to make the original seem drab and one dimensional, and Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” (from Cable Guy) is just about as happy bubble-gum catchy as you’ll hear from this guy.
Farrell fence sitters: consolidate. There’s enough here to give you what you want and surprise you into liking what you may not know. Old timers…well, you’re probably going to get it anyway, so what do you care what I say?