Jane's Addiction Strays

Kurt may be dead, but at least we don’t have to worry about him reforming Nirvana and tarnishing one of the most important legacies in music. No one thought Perry Farrell would make it this far (least of all Perry), so reforming Jane’s with two of its original members (guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins) is a pretty risky move. With their legacy firmly entrenched as the band that set the table for the alternative revolution of the ‘90s, Strays couldn’t ruin Jane’s name, but it could tarnish it. And Strays isn’t the "true” follow-up to Ritual (original bassist Eric Avery and Dave’s Deconstruction project is musically closer) — not with so much time passed and certainly not without Eric. Strays is a more modern, kinder Jane’s Addiction; gone is the edge and while Jane’s never recaptures the "magic,” they do conjure up the ghosts of their past. Perry’s distinct, child-like squeal is always welcome, as well as now rock star cliché Dave’s guitar histrionics, but Stephen’s drumming is more restrained, curtailing his frenetic style. Not to mention that without Eric’s bass, which both drove and anchored Jane’s, Dave’s guitars are omnipresent, saturating with modern-sounding riffs that recall Jane’s imitators. Also lacking is the artistry of Jane’s. Still, "Hypersonic” comes closest to recapturing Jane’s at their most feverish and unhinged, and leadoff single "Just Because” isn’t a bad rock song. Truthfully, Strays is strong when compared against what’s currently vying for radio/video play. It’s only when measured against Jane’s own legacy that it falls far short. (Virgin)