Once upon a time, when Jane's Addiction reigned as one of rock music's most potent forces, Perry Farrell seemed the most deserving heir apparent to the crown of the Lizard King. But after the meltdown of two counterculture festivals and Porno for Pyros, those days seem very far off indeed, and Farrell seems to know as well as everyone else that it's high time for a little reinvention. So for a couple of years now, Farrell has been extolling the virtues of the global dance underground, DJing under his Hebrew name, Peretz, and recording tracks for the solo CD that now presents itself to the world. Given Perry's hit-and-miss history when it comes to creative projects, one can expect the best or the worst -- often in the same package. As it turns out, what we've got is the merely all right and the worst.
To be fair, Song Yet to Be Sung is hardly the utter embarrassment it could have been, but all the same, this material is not going to make anyone forget Nothing's Shocking, or even "Pets." In fact, this album is what most in rock consider the most infernal of all creations, a concept album, this one based around the jubilee tradition of celebration, renewal and forgiveness echoed throughout the politics, culture and economy of the world's nations. Stylistically, this means throwing the jungle breaks and the acid squelches in with lots of kitschy worldbeat and reggae influences and plenty of neo-hippie platitudes that seem to have nothing to do with the rather imperfect and divided world you actually live in every day. Basically, if Disney decided to base its next animated musical at Burning Man, the soundtrack would sound something like this. One can even picture the body-painted houri Perry croons about at the beginning of "Say Something" ("I like to dance in crowds/I like to make love aloud/I always keep a fire burning") twirling her teeny-tiny waist to the delight of parents and children everywhere. Gulp.
Well, it's mighty hard to say if any new souls or even some old holdouts are going to bite down on the bait this time. But since every successful neo-circus promoter has a little bit of P.T. Barnum in him or her, Farrell might be onto something with this hokum. All the same, throwing "Ted, Just Admit It" next to any of these album's songs will most likely remind anyone who still remembers that, once upon a time, Farrell represented real leadership for the Freak Nation. And no matter how hard he tries onSong Yet to Be Sung, he just can't regain it.
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