Being in a rock band on L.A.’s Sunset Strip in the mid to late 80’s usually meant your budget included spandex, hairspray, and makeup on top of your expenditures for Flying V guitars and cases of Jack Daniels. Everyone on the sleazy neon Strip aspired to be the next Van Halen or Mötley Crüe.
Well, almost everyone.
Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell hoped to attain classic rock greatness, to become his generation’s version of The Who or The Doors. His band’s repertoire included songs by The Velvet Underground and The Stones. But mere imitation wouldn’t do — Farrell wanted Jane’s Addiction in the rock & roll pantheon. Hey, it’s good to have goals.
After a rotating cast of guitarists, Farrell jammed with teenager Dave Navarro and something clicked. Suddenly Jane’s Addiction found themselves among the hottest bands in Los Angeles (alongside the leather-pantsed Guns N’ Roses and the freaky stylings of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). The band’s 1988 debut album, Nothing’s Shocking, contained massively heavy, Zeppelinesque rockers, atmospheric musings about Ted Bundy, and the acoustic anthem, “Jane Says.” A few of the tracks received heavy play on college radio and word of mouth spread.
Despite being dark and weird and totally antithetical to the mainstream rock of 1990, Jane’s Addiction built up a surprisingly sizable underground audience (they were “alternative” before “alternative” was even a thing), and their second album, Ritual De Lo Habitual, made the charts and went double platinum. Their popularity was helped, in part, by the killer groove of “Been Caught Stealing,” as well as the song’s heavy rotation on MTV.
Although the barking dog at the beginning sounds intentional, like a basset on the scent of a runaway thief, it was actually a happy accident. Farrell brought his dog into the studio and while recording the vocal track his hound began ruffing it up. It fit so well with the song that they decided to keep it on the record. “Been Caught Stealing” went on to become their biggest hit.
So grab what you want, and walk right through the door … with Jane’s Addiction.