Given the intensity of Jane's Addiction's following -- occasioned by the guitar abilities of Dave Navarro
and Eric Avery
's fluid, strong bass playing as much as Perry Farrell
's manic frontman persona -- it's no wonder that the faithful were waiting forever for whatever the two would create next. By the time it appeared, though, Navarro was finding his abilities wasted by the terminally unstable Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eric Avery
was already making his initial forays as Polar Bear
. The end result is less an album than a collection of sessions and explorations, sometimes comparing favorably and sometimes not to the original group the two made their names with. Avery handles the majority of singing, and while he wisely doesn't try to create a knockoff of the patented Farrell whine and howl, his often staccato speak-singing isn't always the best of substitutes. Musically, links to the epic majesty and fractured funk of Jane's are unsurprisingly everywhere -- opener "LA Song" shows enough of that in spades, especially when halfway through the band, including drummer Michael Murphy
, suddenly switches to a massive stomp and surge à la "Mountain Song." Nearly everything on the record in terms of sheer performance and power could easily have found a place on a fourth Jane's album, if any such thing had come to pass. Still, the absence of Farrell (and just as critically, producer Dave Jerden
, with his uncanny ability to make the group sound bigger than God) is clearly and keenly felt throughout. The end result is that monster songs like "Fire in the Hole," which would have sounded just right with Farrell's epochal way of doing things, sounds undeserved by Avery's calmer meandering and pondering, occasional screams aside. A springboard for more, certainly, but not a final product.