Monday 11 February 2019

#125 JANE'S ADDICTION - The Pyramid Club, L.A. 1986 (Flac)

The Pyramid Club,
Los Angeles, CA
November 13, 1986

SBD > bootleg CD "Live and Profane"
silver boot CD>EAC>FLAC

01. My Time
02. Whores
03. Pigs in Zen
04. Ain't No Right
05. I Would for You
06. Idiots Rule
07. Trip Away
08. Mountain Song
09. Filler: Then She Did (unknown date/location)

EAC & compression by terrapinstation 01/26/2001

In the early '80s, the insular Los Angeles underground music scene, made up largely of over-educated misfits and art-school dropouts, exploded from the violent impact of suburban hard-core punk and scattered into a thousand fragments. Some of the fragments-the American-roots thing embraced by bands such as X and the Blasters, the neo-sixties scene that spawned the Bangles-became quite popular both inside and outside L.A.

The self-described 'art' scene-depressed, black-clad musicians playing music almost as performance art, usually as an, ironic comment on the state of pop culture-produced a lot of bands and venues but not many fans. Basically, all but the most popular of L.A. art bands played to each other, to the 26 people on the guest list at the Anticlub on a Thursday night.

One of these bands, and by no means the best, was Psi-Com, whose lead singer Perry Farrell, was king of the ring nose dreads. Psi-Com broke up out of ennui after half the members left to join a religous cult, but not before Eric Avery auditioned for the band in 1986, playing one bass riff 45 minutes while Farrell improvised vocals. Psi-Com would never play another gig, but a few months later Stephen Perkins and Dave Navarro, the high-school-age drummer and guitarist for a local glam-metal band, joined the group, which named itself Jane's Addiction after the habit of a junkie friend of Avery's and Farrell's. (Jane, now clean, works as a secretary in Hollywood-her idealized portrait, as the Virgin Mary, is on the inside cover of the lyric booklet that comes with the Ritual de lo Habitual CD.)

By the end of 1986, the thrashings of Hollywood postpunk had all but withered away; what rose up in its place was plain old heavy metal again, and the heat that had surrounded local alternative music cleaved onto the retro-seventies hard-rock grooves you now hear on MTV. Guns N' Roses came out of the scene that formed at the club Scream, which happened a couple of times a week in a big, empty room under the Embassy Hotel in downtown L.A. Jane's Addiction, which by this time had acquired a heavy, metallic sheen to underpin Farrell's arty meanderings, was also wildly popular at Scream, where the kids didn't care how left-field a band was as long as it had loud guitars. The standard comparison in those days put them as Led Zeppelin to Guns N' Roses' Aerosmith, because Farrell's voice was shrill, the song structures powerful and abstract.

Jane's Addiction stood out as art music that metal kids could like too-"neometal" as easy to bang a head to as to contemplate to on headphones-and the success of the non-genre genre made it possible for other West Coast bands like Faith No More, Primus and Soundgarden to cross over without confining themselves to a genre either. Where the record industry tends to peg bands as pop, rock, metal or alternative, Jane's Addiction was all of the above.

In 1987, the band was signed by Warner Bros. Records for a sum large enough to stun the underground; in early 1988, it released a live album on local Triple X Records that included the classic "Whores"; in late 1988 it released its first major-label album, Nothing's Shocking, which included a song about Ted Bundy, a pile of metaphors for heroin addiction (a problem that has plagued all members of the band except for drummer Perkins) and an album cover that pictured Casey as naked Siamese twins with their heads ablaze. The nude videos accompanying the album were banned by MTV. Nothing's Shocking was nominated for a Grammy but lost out to Jethro Tull! 

In 1990 Ritual went gold in less than a month, and the band went from playing small theatres to selling out Madison Square Garden. The band was speaking to somebody.

Jane's rehearse as the Smiths, U2 and the Jesus & The Mary Chain look on

'Sweet Jane'


Below is an edited version of one of the finest pieces I have read about a particular bootleg. This is the edited 'short read' you can find the original 'long read' here:

"On November 13, 1986, two months before recording Triple X, Jane’s Addiction recorded themselves through the soundboard at The Pyramid Club in Hollywood. Located at 1743 N. Cahuenga, east of the famous Mann’s Chinese Theater, The Pyramid was one of many small venues where L.A.’s underground bands performed in the 1980s. Goth, post-punk, and art rock thrived at little holes in the wall like Raji’s, Club Lingerie, and Black Radio Club, and Jane’s Addiction taped themselves playing at many of them. It took a a few years for copies of their other 1986 soundboard recordings to stray far from the band’s personal collection. Once copies of the Pyramid show leaked, bootleggers released it in the early 1990s on unauthorized CDs like Live and Profane and Addicted, where it circulated widely and remained, for a while, the earliest live recording that most Jane’s fans had. For people like me, who hadn’t experienced the band in all their pre-fame glory, the bootlegs were a windfall.

The Pyramid show is searing. It’s the kind of unhinged rock and roll that built Jane’s Addiction’s reputation as one of Los Angeles’ best bands, and whose fame helped Nirvana and Pearl Jam make alternative music mainstream in the early 1990s. Now that Jane’s Addiction plays arenas and everyone from your surgeon to your grandma has tattoos, it’s hard to imagine these familiar things being limited to the subculture. But back in the late 1980s, before singer Perry Farrell embraced the true dark side of Los Angeles - namely, reality television and cosmetic surgery - and guitarist Dave Navarro leveraged his musical fame for that comfortable TV show money, the band was revolutionary.

Designing their own album covers and sharing clothes, generating buzz without generating much profit, shooting heroin and fighting on stage, Jane’s Addiction’s spooky mix of dark art and forceful deviance was enthralling, and the sense of its inevitable implosion only heightened the appeal. Back when the band handed a blank tape to The Pyramid’s soundman, Jane’s Addiction was L.A.’s own Iggy and The Stooges, and their recording of “Whores” that night is one the grittiest rock songs ever captured on tape.

The band had been referred to as “feeling’ man’s metal.” That seemed to fit. It was Jane’s Addiction’s cover songs that introduced me to the music of The Velvet Underground, Stooges, and X before I knew these were covers. And like an older sibling who lends you his favorite records and winks, You’re not a virgin anymore, it was Jane’s Addiction who showed me what L.A. bands like Dream Syndicate and Suburban Lawns already knew: that no matter how many of us Arizonans treated L.A. as one big beach and discounted its interior as a cultureless silicone implant sewed onto the movie industry’s chest, this city had a fertile musical underbelly that many of us had been missing, and it was thriving just six hours west of my Phoenix home. “Whores” changed me permanently.

Like most great rock songs, “Whores” isn’t complicated. It’s a simple metal guitar riff chugging over a dirty baseline in the key of B. Between guitar solos, Perry howls about a marginalized existence, “way down low where the streets are littered.” The popular rock songs from 1986, like Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name,” build themselves around clichés and sappy sing-alongs that encourage mindlessness and nostalgia. “Whores” has no glitter, no pretense. Instead of numbing you, it shocks you awake, taking listeners where few straight-laced, tax-paying citizens ever visit: the places you go to cop dope, and where prostitutes ply their trade. Although “Whores” isn’t sui generis, with no predecessor and no equal, it’s a unique artistic vision that resulted when a group of young musicians with different styles and ideas first started jamming together, and their recreational drugs were still working.

Unfortunately, the more I read about the band, the clearer the role drugs played in the rise and fall of their creative output became. All the songs they wrote during their first few months resulted from a unique combination of talent, vision and drugs - heroin specifically. And during the second half of their life as a band, heroin was the reason they wrote nothing new.

Jane’s Addiction’s early iterations performed “Whores” and songs like “Ain’t No Right” in 1985 and ’86 with a different guitarist named Ed Dobrydnio, and Matt Chaikin on drums. Their versions established many songs’ basic structures. When Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins joined in early ’86, Dave wrote stronger, more imaginative guitar parts and the band turned “Whores” into what it is today.

The new lineup fleshed out their songs at the Wilton House, the beautiful, run-down, 1910s Craftsman that Perry rented from two cops at 369 N. Wilton. Many artists lived there, including Eric, photographer Karyn Cantor, and the band’s namesake. “It was one of those houses where everyone in the music scene in the mid-80s seems to have done a lot of time,” Eric said, “where every single closet was rented out.”

“I remember showing up when everyone got off work,” Stephen said, “going into the garage, and writing all those songs - ‘Whores,’ ‘Pigs In Zen.’ It’s like that moment when you fall in love.” Residents kept guitars in the living room and beat bongos on the wraparound porch. People like Angelo Moore from Fishbone and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers came over to jam and hang out. “The first song Perry, Eric and I ever played with Dave together as a four-piece was ‘Whores,'” Stephen said, “and at that moment, for me, the sound of Jane’s Addiction was born. And it hasn’t changed since.”

After that, Jane’s Addiction wrote most of their first three albums before they even released their first one. Bootleg recordings reveal the truth about the band in ways that all the early magazine interviews and TV spots did not: That they experienced an extremely fertile period of creativity during the first few months of collaborating on that porch and in that living room.

Live and Profane surprised me. Its fidelity was excellent, and the band played with unbelievable fire. To me, this was rock and roll. No second thoughts. No overdubs to correct mistakes and make improvements. They played each song in one take, feeling their way through with their guts with the energy of a local band free to experiment with their sound before anyone expected anything from them.

I hunted for more Jane’s Addiction recordings. Before the internet let fans trade digital files from the comfort of their bedrooms, you had to search for hardcopy bootlegs. Because they’re illegal, not every store stocked bootlegs, but I gradually found more soundboard shows mixed in with the legitimate releases: from L.A.’s Variety Arts Theatre in 1987, and the John Anson Ford Theater in 1989. I loved the then-unreleased song “Kettle Whistle” from the Variety Arts show. That and another vinyl bootleg I had were the only recordings on which that song was available. Perry had conceived it with his previous band in 1985 and didn’t release a version until 1997. By then it had hypnotized me for seven years, and the bootleg performances were better than the official. Whoever this bootleg company named Totonka was, I felt indebted to them.

To me, live recordings frequently has immediacy that studio albums do not. Although soundboard cassette recordings lack the lush dimensions caught on a multi-track studio console and good microphones, live performances often have more fire. There’s power in a first take, and over-thinking can diminish it.

Before Jane’s Addiction played their songs enough for them to become rote, the band was still exploring their sound. On stage, Stephen experimented with different drums and rhythms. Dave soloed wildly and tried different guitar effects. Live, Perry experimented the most. He put more echo on his vocals, adding layers of lysergic reverberations to his already psychedelic lyrics. Lots of bands add reverb to their guitars and voices. Few singers used as much as Perry did in the early days.

At shows like The Pyramid, Perry went crazy with the echoes, turning knobs on his electronic processor to warp their frequency high and low and cranking the volume so high that he sometimes drowned out Dave’s solo. These hypnotic, pulsing frequencies drifted through the club, filling the space between verses and laying an eerie texture underneath the instruments that started loud and trailed away. “Pigs in zen, zen, zen, zen,” Perry sang, “Talking ’bout the pigs, pigs, pigs, pigs. Ooow!” Back when I took acid, I loved this effect. Even after I quit tripping, the effect enchanted me. It’s a defining part of Jane’s Addiction’s sound. You hear it on the best board tapes.

The bootlegs let us hear Jane’s Addiction at the peak of their power, a band not yet locked into their musical or destructive habits, a band unafraid to take chances. And if some weasel black market capitalists hadn’t leaked these performances, fans would never have been able to enjoy them. Which is to say: sometimes bootlegs perform a cultural service. As one classical music bootlegger told Stereo Review in 1970, “We ‘pirates’ - if you must call us that - are the custodians of vocal history and we’re doing a damn good job of it - a job you can’t expect record companies to do because they’re not in business for that.”

Board tapes made me a lifelong fan of live recordings. When you hear the crowd yell, you feel the electricity between band and audience. Of all the early recordings I’ve collected, The Pyramid show, thirty-one years after Jane’s Addiction made it, still sounds fresh and strange.

Located in a nondescript building between Yucca Street and Hollywood Boulevard, the owners called the venue The Pyramid Club on some nights and The Continental Club on others, presumably to draw different musical crowds.

Stephen Perkins remembered playing there in 1986. “At the time,” Stephen said, “Dave and I weren’t twenty-one, so we weren’t allowed into the club until the band was announced. Perry went and got us a six-pack of beer, and we went and drank it in a car outside the club, waiting to get on stage. Then the guy said ‘Jane’s Addiction!’, and the back door opened and we came running onstage. We had to vacate the premises right after the show.”

For reasons that remain unclear, Jane’s Addiction constantly taped shows. Maybe they treated live recordings as demos to circulate to labels. Maybe they wanted to capture their best takes for possible releases, or capture new ideas as they generated them: a bass line Eric came up with on stage, a melody they spontaneously jammed between songs.

The Pyramid show’s sound quality isn’t as three-dimensional as Triple X, but it’s equally inspired. As Jane’s Addiction often did in those days, they opened with acoustic songs, with bassist Eric playing rhythm guitar on “Slow Divers,” “Jane Says” and “My Time.” Before “Jane Says” Perry tells the crowd, “Here’s one we haven’t done in a long time.” Although they’d played it before, this is the earliest known live recording of what became their “Stairway to Heaven.” Perry delivers it with feeling, drenched in effects. Afterwards he says, “Alright, let’s get down into it now.” Meaning: play electric. Dave tunes his guitar. Someone burps near a microphone, and Stephen rolls his sticks across his drum heads, sending a cascade of trippy echoes through the air. Then they tear into “Whores,” “Ain’t No Right,” “Idiots Rule,” “Mountain Song,” and “Summertime Rolls.”

Still excited by these new songs, probably loosened by beer, Dave solos with a spirit you don’t expect from a 19-year-old. Perry screams “Owooo!” and grunts whenever it feels right, punctuating the space between verses the way his idol Iggy did in Stooges songs like “Down on the Street,” letting his voice trail into the distance.

Like me, Stephen Perkins recognized the magic of their early sets. This explains why, when the band reunited in 1997, they released this version of “Whores” on their miscellany, Kettle Whistle. And to think that teenagers chugging beer in a parking lot delivered such a furious performance.

1743 N. Cahuenga became many different clubs after The Pyramid. Last time I checked, the building sat deserted, as vacant as my youthful attempts at poetry. Fronted by a lone palm tree, cigarette butts collected below its white walls where the landscaping had gone feral. Cars pass on nearby Hollywood Boulevard 24 hours a day. Some transport their drivers to work. Others are filled with tourists going to photograph themselves on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2013, Jane’s Addiction finally got a star on the Walk. It’s number 2,509, located three blocks from The Pyramid."

If you have made it this far, well done. This boot marks the first quarter of the alternate 100 posted. The listing is as follows:

#01. JOE STRUMMER & THE MESCALEROS - Key Arena, Seattle, WA. 17 October, 2001
#02. BROADCAST - BBC Radio & TV Sessions (1996-2000)
#03. FELT - BBC Sessions
#04. NEW ORDER - Central London Polytechnic 1985
#05. TINARIWEN - The Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool 2017
#06. PRIMAL SCREAM - XTRMNTR Live, BBC Maida Vale Studios, London. 20 March, 2000
#07. The VERVE - Unreleased Urban Hymns
#08. TOM PETTY & the Heartbreakers - Capitol Records Tower, Hollywood. 11 November, 1977
#09. STEELY DAN - The 'Lost' Gaucho
#10. JOHNNY CASH & The Tennessee Two - Radio Broadcasts 1956-59
#11. RICKIE-LEE JONES - Theatre Carré, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 3 September, 1979
#12. CAT POWER - Black Sessions 2008
#13. The CLASH - Last Gang In Town (Rarities 1976-84)
#14. PJ HARVEY - State Theatre, Sydney, Australia. 19 January, 2012
#15. LED ZEPPELIN - MSG, New York, NY. (Matrix Version) 12 February, 1975
#16. BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE - Entering a New Ride (1997)
#17. ARCTIC MONKEYS - Earls Court 26 October, 2013
#18. LED ZEPPELIN - How The East Was Won 1971 (EVSD) Tokyo, Japan. 29 September, 1971
#19. The CRAMPS - Club 57, Irving Plaza, New York, NY. 18 August, 1979
#20. JEFF BUCKLEY - Knitting Factory, New York, NY. 4 February, 1997
#21. The CURE - Rock Werchter Festival, Werchter, Belgium. 5 July, 1981
#22. The VERVE - Hultsfred Festival, Sweden. 13 August, 1994
#23. The SMITHS - Demos & Outtakes (Mixed Locations)
#24. LINTON KWESI JOHNSON - Bersee Museum, Bremen, Germany. 27 June, 1980
#25. JANE'S ADDICTION - The Pyramid Club, LA. 13 November, 1986


  1. Thanks a lot for sharing with us!

  2. I remember as each album came out, discovering more and more early seeds and maybe a year after ritual finally figured out that almost everything was written in those early Years. Anyway cool to read your description of tbet prolific period

  3. Pleased you enjoyed the post. Not my comments just an abridged version. See the link for the full version, my mistake in not crediting the original blogger. Whose love for the band and this bootleg in particular made me seek out the said recording. While I don't have the emotional connection to that particular time I recognise the importance of a particular band and recording during youth, no matter the band.