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Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction Paperback – March 14, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this highly entertaining oral history, West Coast punk historian Mullen (Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash) assembles an unflinching portrait of the band that brought metallic punk rock to the mainstream, opened the door for grunge and helped spawn the traveling rock freak show, Lollapalooza. First commissioned as an article for Spin, the book is based on a variety of sources and interviews with key players, from band members to friends and managers and other L.A. bands, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Guns N' Roses. It covers the "addiction" part thoroughly. Throughout the band's heyday, every member (except for drummer Stephen Perkins) and much of its entourage was savagely addicted to heroin—so much so that no one in the band really recalls enjoying the band's success. Under the influence, band members Dave Navarro and Eric Avery fought, often physically, with the eccentric Farrell; tours were a blur; money was made and lost; and recording sessions and film shoots often became Dantean nightmares. Once again, the oral history format works perfectly for Mullen, who succeeds in positioning Jane's Addiction as a seminal band in rock history as well as offering compelling portraits of both Farrell, the band's ambitious, egomaniacal visionary and front man, and the vibrant L.A. punk scene from which Jane's was born. Agent, Jud Laghi at ICM. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"As thorough a telling of Jane’s Addiction as we’re likely to get." -- PitchforkMedia.com, 6/26/06

"[An] eyebrow-raising story with first-person transcripts from interviews with the principal players." -- The Guardian, 05/27/06
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814785
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First of all, I really looked forward to this book. I read it in 3-4 hours in two sittings and it was very entertaining. Brendan Mullen wrote an extended article in SPIN Magazine on Jane's Addiction back when their Strays album came out a couple years ago. He states, at the beginning of this book, that band members more or less stopped giving interviews shortly after the albums release so he couldn't get additional information for the book. This forced him to search high and low for other key characters who surrounded Jane's Addiction, along with the band and management, in telling their complete story. It worked. This is a great book and gives an excellent perspective as to what Jane's achieved and what they were up against (primarily themselves). Anyone familiar with Jane's will notice a few familiar quotes and paragraphs from past interviews dating back more than 15 years. Mullen pulls from all sources and paints a good picture of band's impact on the LA music scene at that time and the argument that they created the alternative scene that Cobain and others were able to blow the doors open on a few years later. The development of Lollapalooza is very interesting as well. This book would receive a five star rating had the band done interviews more recently specifically for the book. Unfortunately, they didn't and you have to stick to their old interviews which in many ways is good for catching the moment but not as good for catching the band's perspective on their impact over time. Had they done interviews it may have turned out more like the Crue's DIRT. But Jane's was a much darker band, and you definitely get the feeling here. Actually it sounds like Porno For Pyros was more drug-addled than Jane's, if that's possible. This is a biography and almost gets 4.5 stars. The 5 Star books will be the complete autobiographies by Avery, Perkins, Navarro and Farrell. They'll come in time. Long live Jane's Addiction, one of the last truly great rock 'n roll bands......
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Format: Hardcover
For Jane's Addiction fans old and new, this is the place to learn about the history of the band, but you'll get it as compilation rather than analysis. Brendan Mullen uses a technique that has become popular in rock journalism - a collection of quick comments by various people describing things in their own words, with only brief set-ups or explanations from the author (reporter). This method may be hip and flashy, but I'm not convinced that it works. Mullen does use the method effectively in a few places by creating juxtapositions in time that cast a harsh light on the band's foibles. A great example is a snippet of an old interview in which Dave Navarro pronounced that he hates to "sell himself," after which Mullen jumps right into Dave's marriage to Carmen Electra on MTV (on the good side, Dave really apologizes a lot for all his peccadilloes). And in general, one real advantage here is that the personalities of the four original members are highly visible, and it sure is good to have Eric Avery's participation.

Sadly, there is something fundamentally missing from this book. Once again the culprit is the presentation style, with its disconnected commentaries and lack of analysis. Mullen relies so much on fuzzy memories from minor scenesters and hangers-on (many with extremely disposable observations) that the crucial insights of the band members, the guys you really want to hear from, are often missing from long stretches of the book. Mullen was one of those scenesters from the early days himself, or wished he was, and this forces a focus on the band's personal lives and the hijinks of their club days.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved the oral biography style that Brendan Mullen used in "We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of LA Punk" (which in turn was inspired by the classic in this mini-genre, "Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk"), so I wasn't disappointed with this book. There's no denying that Janes Addiction were as debauched and hard-living a band as they were an amazing and innovative one. "Whores" seems to focus more on the debauchery, although I think the Janes tale doesn't offer anything as memorable as, say, Led Zeppelin's shark incident or Nikki Sixx's many ODs. Still, the reader gets a good sense of Janes Addiction' musical impact and legacy from the band's friends and admirers, many of whom are incorporated here -- some unsurprisingly (Flea, for example) and some whose connections to the band I never knew about (avant-country diva Carla Bozulich was an early girlfriend of Eric Avery's?!). Perhaps most tantalizing is the sketch Mullen draws of the larger mid- to late-1980s scene in Los Angeles that Janes Addiction came from: early LA goth, hair metal, Fishbone, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Thelonious Monster, the Nymphs, local rivals Guns N Roses, etc. I only wish this scene had its own document -- a sequel to "We Got the Neutron Bomb," perhaps?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this for a friend who loves Jane's Addiction and they can't stop reading it. It is written in a very interesting and captivating style, it's as if you are watching a VH1 interview with the musicians themselves

Lots of different characters, and an interesting look at the history of that music scene and not entirely focused on the band itself. The primary star is Perry Farrell but you have sections devoted to Dave Navarro, Eric Avery as well as other musicians who joined the band from time to time (Flea etc.)

Great read and highly recommend! Only downside is that it is kind of dated (especially with the comeback) but it doesn't make for any less of a read
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