The Glitz; The Glamor
(Last Man Music)
If Perry Farrell died in 1994, the year Rolling Stone readers voted him 1993’s “Rock Star Most Likely to Die in the Next Year,” he would’ve become bigger than Ian Curtis, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, the Notorious B.I.G., and Kurt Cobain. All musicians who we assumed were destined for even greater artistic achievements before their premature deaths.
After all, by ‘93, Perry Farrell had accomplished more than the artists noted above:
- He possessed that elusive indie credibility with Psi com, a solid post-punk goth band that almost broke out of Los Angeles.
- He formed and dissolved Jane’s Addiction at their peak; producing two critically-acclaimed albums, changed the direction of music, and manifested himself into a near-mythical god.
- His Lollapalooza, which rallied the bored generation and gave them something to do during summer break, was in its third year and America’s traveling Woodstock showed no signs of slowing down.
- Porno for Pyros, his follow-up act had just released a critically-acclaimed debut album filled with some interesting songs written for Jane’s Addiction if they had stayed together.
Simply put, in 1993, Perry Farrell was a revered trailblazer and his career trajectory was only rising. He was Generation X’s Wavy Gravy, leading them to greater things; inspiring artists and activists. Somehow he transformed himself from a perverted underground Willie Wonka-like cult figure to the trusted spokesperson for the Alternative Nation™.
Then he lived past 1994 and things began to unravel.
Post ‘94, Farrell made a few solo electronic dance albums, formed Satellite Party with his new wife and Nuno Bettencourt, and featured on several dozen songs by other musicians, all while attempting to resurrect Jane’s Addiction every few years.
Every time our hero applied the defibrillators on the chest plate of Jane’s cold corpse, you were forced to look away -- it was already dead (as if there was any doubt after the band accepted a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013).
Decades later upon listening to Farrell’s latest release, The Glitz; The Glamor, one has to ask themselves, would it really have been that bad if those Rolling Stone readers were correct? I don’t wish death on anyone, but for the sake of art, it’s a concept that holds weight.
Of the 68 tracks on this exhaustive nine-disc anthology which spans 35-years, there isn’t one Jane’s Addiction song, nor are there any Porno for Pyros songs. Instead, The Glitz: The Glamor explores Farrell’s lesser-known work. The official press release calls them, “Rock rarities and heart-pounding artistic explorations.”
That might be true for the first six songs of this collection, which consist of Psi com’s sole studio release (this remastered EP proves the band was years ahead of the curve), but not much else.
In a recent Yahoo Entertainment interview in promotion for The Glitz; The Glamor, Farrell says, “I don't like pop music, and everything that goes with pop. It bores me. It sucks. It's sellout. It's good if you want to make a lot of money.”
Yet everything on The Glitz; The Glamor recorded after 1994 is 100 percent pop music; some of it even sounds like it started off as a jingle for an energy drink commercial.
It’s the question every musician asks themselves after that initial fling with worldwide fame, “How do I keep the audience engaged, yet mature as an artist?"
Nick Cave has continued to deliver consistent Nick Cave-like music for over 40 years. Johnny Cash was fairly consistent, and Bowie finished strong with his last two albums made when he was 66 and 69 years old. At 61, Farrell still has plenty of time to write his swan song.
The Glitz; The Glamor also makes you wonder what kind of music the aforementioned Ian Curtis, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Notorious B.I.G., and Kurt Cobain would make so many years after their premature deaths.
What would Kurt Cobain’s The Glitz; The Glamor sound like? Would it include music as generic as Farrell’s work with Satellite Party? It’s very possible. If Dave Grohl’s latest release is anything to go by, Cobain probably would have lost his edge, too. (There’s nothing technically wrong with Grohl’s Medicine At Midnight, but it’s not the sound of a hungry artist.)
Every musician is allowed to evolve any way they’d like, but for Farrell to lambast pop music in the same interview he's promoting a $300 retrospective box set filled with 91 percent unadulterated pop seems disingenuous.