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36
4.1 out of 5 stars
The Great Escape Artist
Format: Audio CDChange
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2011
When you are responsible for two of the most groundbreaking albums ever made in 1988's "Nothings Shocking" and 1990's "Ritual de lo Habitual"(the only thing Jane's fans argue on is which is greater!) and you haven't released an album in 8 years since 2003's Eric Avery less "Strays" then there was always going to be great anticipation when in 2010 Jane's announced they were working on a new album with Duff McKagan(guns n' roses, velvet revolver) taking the recently departed(again) Eric Averys place. This would be only album number four in Jane's largely on and off again career and to just add to the confusion McKagan would depart in September 2010 and be replaced by TV On The Radio's David Sitek as well as touring bassist Chris Chaney. It seems however as usual the more problems and troubles Jane's encounter the better they get. As "The Great Escape Artist" is one great album and see's them mixing their old sound with new fresh idea's.

The signs were already good when they released "End To The Lies" earlier this year a song with a opening groove not to unfamiliar to "Ted, Just Admit It" and featuring Dave Navarro's signature heavy full guitar sound. Throw in lyrics like "You talk about me so much, I think you're in love with me" and lyrics like "You never really change like they say. You only become more like yourself". It's a good indicator that the song is about original and former bassist Eric Avery. The other single "Irresistible Force" showed a new experimental sound with the use use of swirling synths and a spoken word delivery by frontman Perry Farrell.

The album itself opens up with the brilliant "Underground" which has a big Dave Navarro riff carry the song through a bit like he did with "Mountain Song" as well as some great tribal drumming from Jane's secret weapon drummer Stephen Perkins. Dave Navarro a man responsible for one of the greatest guitar solos ever in "Three Days" and is on fine form here as he delivers another great solo in the track "Curiosity Kills", it shows Navarro is still one of the best guitar players in the game! On the song "I'll Hit You Back" that's got a great bass line running through and has Perry on great form it and makes good use of synthesizers which surely this is the effect of producer Rich Costey who has produced for Muse and Interpol as well as Dave Sitek influence on the band.

With the track "Ultimate Reason" we get a listen to what the album might have sounded like had McKagan made it the whole way through as this is one of his tracks(he also co-wrote "Broken People" & "Words Right Out Of My Mouth"). The song "Words Right Out of My Mouth" features a great acoustic bridge before Navarro takes us out again. "Twisted Tales" is a great track where all instruments work well together and has a great rhythm running throughout it. On the song "Broken People" the bass starts the track before Perry delivers a lovely slow vocal as Stephen Perkins drums play in the background before Dave Navarro steps in with a heavy guitar riff the compliments the song really well.

With the special edition you get a second disc of the band recorded live at the vive latino festival from this year, there's a version of "End To The Lies" included as well as classics like "Three Days", "Ted, Just Admit It", "Mountain Song" and "Ocean Size", it features 11 songs and at just under an hour is longer than the studio album, also it's good to see the artwork return to something like the earlier albums after the band photo used for "Strays", the album contains all the lyrics as well as who played and wrote what.

With "The Great Escape Artist" Jane's Addiction have answered all their critics who said they had no future with out Avery and while it would have been nice to have Eric Avery along for the ride the band sounds revitalized and with an album that doesn't even take up 40 minutes is one that will add to the legacy of the band even if it never matches either "Nothings Shocking" or "Ritual de lo Habitual"(lets face it not much does) and lets hope they don't self implode once again as on this form I can't wait another 8 years for album number 5!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I've got this record from 2 weeks ago, listening to it in an almost daily basis in order to get the most clear impression from it. It's great! Not epic but certainly a pretty decent effort all thing considered (original bassist leaves the band, then McKagan joined, then McKagan leaves too), this album could have been a complete disaster (but it is not as some have stated here giving 1 or 2 stars; nonsense). Guess what, they are still doing the same thing they have been doing from the beginning: evolve. If you want the same record over and over again there are other bands that do so (with more or less fortune), but Jane's Addiction evolve, push boundaries, and they do that with "The Great Escape Artist". Nice atmospheric sounding work, and although I do love rocking songs (don't look for that in this record, only 1 song qualifies for that category) when a song is good, is that, a good song, and they also nailed it with the concept IMHO, the album as a whole is coherent. I got the vinyl version; very well pressed with little dinamic range (I was expecting none) which is strange nowadays where almost all recordings and mastering are leaning towards high levels all the time), the sound in my system is very good. I don't know about the CD version, but this one comes without lyrics or inserts of any kind, just the outter sleeve, the vinyl and the plain white inner. To finish I recommend it if you like the ever evolving J.A., if you are looking for another "Nothing's Shocking" or "Ritual de lo Habitual" don't buy it but you'll be missing one of a hell great album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2011
The first thing I thought when I put this on is thank god the production is better. By this I mean the mixing. I found strays very lifeless and was pleased to find this is much better despite it being too slick for me. I do like this record and im pleased that the band still has good ideas and farrel still sounds great, but my issue with it is that the 'updated sound' doesnt realy work. This is still janes addiction but the newer textures sound a bit U2 in places. Its not realy breaking new ground and just comes off sounding like bands that were around 15 years ago. Its a proper janes record but it has some unnecesary gloss added e.g - edge-like guitar effects and some mechanical elements similar to muse. It would have been better with these taken off.
The thing is that janes addiction's old records dont sound dated because they had an original sound that noones accurately imitated. Theres no need to try and move with the times to make yourselves contemporary if you still sound new. This is a decent album and i prefer it to strays. it has a more epic feel and slower songs. shame duff wasnt on it. If they can improve a bit on this theres still a realy good album in them I think.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2011
I have to confess - i bought Ritual de lo Habitual for my son years ago and didn't listen to it until i heard an amazing 'new' track on Planet Rock in early September. That track was Irresistable Force - a song that knocked me out as soon as i heard it - and i have been looking forward to this album coming out ever since. I guess J.A have passed me by for too long....... i do like RdlH but there are so many influences there that it is sometimes hard to keep track of where you are when you listen to it, but IT IS a great album!! The Great Escape Artist is much more straightforward right from the beginning - it sucks you in right away and is consistent from beginning to end. Underground kicks things off with an amazing bass riff and loads of effects and production to pull you in. From there the album just gets better and better. End of the Lies features a maelstrom of Navarro guitar sounds and Farrell aledgedly kicking back at old J.A. bass player Eric Avery - full stop. Twisted Tales sounds like a love story gone wrong, Ultimate Reason is just mean and moody with an epic feel to it, Words Right out of my Mouth has the same sounds of urgency that feature on the early tracks on the RdlH album. The Great Escape Artist 'sounds' like Janes Addiction (make no mistake) with some early Radiohead, Muse, U2, Led Zeppelin et al thrown into the pot to make an album that soars and blows you away. Perry Farrells' lyrics are sharp and acidic but add to the incredible textures and sounds created by messrs Navarro, Perkins and Co. A great album - if you are reading this you must be curious - don't delay - buy it, you'll be glad you did!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2011
This album has some pretty cool moments such as End To The Lies and Underground but in truth there is a lot of forgettable tunes. When they have been playing live recently they include 1 or 2 songs from this album, the rest comes from the majestic 'Nothing's Shocking' and 'Ritual'. To me, that says it all! I saw them in London where they played End To The Lies and to be honest Perry didn't seem that energised by it, unlike the older tunes. Perhaps he (like most fans) just keeps looking back at this band.........
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2011
I had to chip in with my own review having read the one star contribution in this list. Ok, so firstly I totally empathise with you guys who got stung buying the single disk version. If I had done the same, hand on heart, I may not have been able to rate this as a five star album myself. I thank you for bringing it to everyone's attention so others don't make the same mistake. However, I think we all need to bear in mind that it was one of two things - either a) A ruse by the band to get more money with double CD sales or b), simply a bit of a mess up with the marketing/record company/distributors? My opinion is the latter.

So the album itself - amazing.

I have Tommy Vance to thank for my love of JA by playing '1%' on the Radio 1 Rock show circa 1990/1. So I'm an older fan who's loved 'Nothing's Shocking' and 'Ritual' but with 'Strays' I have to admit, I've always struggled to feel the same way about the entirety of that album. As much as Ritual is stylistically very broad I always thought of it as album of two halves - two separate musical movements. Strays varied too but I've always fond myself switching off with some of the tracks and disengaging from it.

However, with The Great Escape Artist, I've listened right the way through with baited breath waiting for a filler track to rear it's head. But no - nothing. Every track on here is really up there in terms of quality from every angle - lyrics, guitar, vocals etc. It sounds like a really well rounded and cohesive album. It sounds like every one of the band came in and performed at their peak.

Finally, the comment about terrible production in the one star review I listed - sorry mate, with all due respect I just haven't got a scooby as to what you are talking about. The sound is clear, full, dynamic and deep. And that is on a car stereo, mid budget living room stereo and on my top end stereo it sounded unbelievable. If anyone is having a problem with the sound try taking of any pre-sets or effects, and put EQ, bass, treble, whatever to neutral. That's the only thing I could possible think of that will have affected your listening and enjoyment.

Anyway, if you're debating whether to buy this, stream any of the tracks on-line and if they grab you, you'll love the whole thing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2011
My own thoughts about TGEA vary from the other reviewers - what I love(d) about Jane's Addiction is the energy, the gonzo excitement and the near sensual textures of the music whether it's the driving force of their careering Navarro piloted faster songs or the reflective beauty of the quieter stuff. This album falls inbetween and never reaches the heights of their previous outings and for me, consequently misses. 'Strays' had some solid echoes of their past glory - I just don't get anything like that here - there's no attack, no sensuality and it feels like a restrained compromise was achieved in the writing rather than two enormous talents battling to outdo each other, to a magnificent adrenalined conclusion. It's a safe Jane's album and it shows.
The energy is missing, replaced by (aaargh!) good taste, musicianship and a studied dynamic which I guess is perhaps a sign of maturity. But it doesn't excite me one bit.

The production is, like Strays, overly compressed so it sounds great on the car stereo but not so clever on decent speakers.

I might grow to love it and I hope I do - but my initial reaction is theat this is Jane's Addiction, lite.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What are Jane's Addiction these days? An industry? A brand? A band? More than anything, perhaps they are an idea : "The Great Escape Artist" is only their fouth studio album in twenty five years ; though the debut "xxx" counts to me, and the band have hardly been shy at activity over the years, with two rarities compilations and a large number of sometimes brilliant, sometimes boring solo albums. Three years after reforming, and two after Eric Avery jumped ship, the band have completed a new studio record with, respectively, TV-On-The-Radio's Dave Sitek, GNR's Duff McKagan, and longstanding second bassist Chris Chaney on various songs.

How does it compare? It's an album, not a selection of 79p downloads for your ears : 10 short songs and 40 minutes. Not here are the glorious, vast epics, but instead a boatload of compact, but equally visionary rock songs helmed from the Jane's mould - shifting tempos and keys, guitars that sound like the mouth of God coughing off immense riffs, and a sold, rolling bass. In fact, I'm not sure that Jane's have ever sounded so good on record : the tones Navarro bleeds from this are probably made from the dying breaths of giant carniovres. When the songs hit a certain pitch, end of the first verse, then the song shifts gears, moves to a hypnotic mantra, drums pounds like some kind of tribal death chant, and no matter how the song is played, Stephen Perkins cannot play the same from bar to bar - the drums hold the enormous groove, whilst the vocals soar ; if nothing else Perry Farrell does enormous, aspirational, classic idealist rock lyrics better than anyone. "Curiousity Kills"is the kind of song that I never released I needed until I heard it, and now I cannot live with it.

In some ways, its a smoother, softer record than the gonzo bonkers rock squall of the late 80's high watermarks that made this bands name : but again, when you get to something like "Irresistable Force", it's more the kind of lifechanging token you hold through a world ; "We became a big business - god isn't real" ; and then Perry, and a million coiled orchestras inform us of "The irresistable force, the immovable object." and what happens when these events collide. In the ears of Coldplay, this song would sound like a sorry apology for existing. Here, Jane's go for the frank, and confident, defiance.

Either you like Jane's Addiction. Or you don't. There is no feeling in the world like being in the same room as them, when thousands of voices reach into their hearts, and thousands of arms to the air, screaming 'all of us with wings!'. Much of the material here is an evolution, the middle point between Jane's as was, and the more cerbral, but equally vital solo material from Farrell such as the out-of-step "Song Yet To Be Sung", and the later, much under-appreciated "Satellite Party" : as the record comes to its conclusion, some of the material may flag slightly, ("Splash A Little Water On It" reminds me of the rubbish "Dogs Rule The Night" from the second Porno For Pyros album), whereas "Broken People" is relatively mellow, but also, openly fragile and human.

Bonus points go for the deluxe edition, which contains a full length live performance by the band taken from this years pre-album tour, mixing material new and old into a cohesive whole. What more can you ask for? A new record, and a live album, all in one - a result, by any standard.
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on 12 November 2011
Very pleasantly surprised at this. Saw them live at Koko in Sept 11 and they were still one of the best live bands I've ever seen. Bought this expecting one or two goodies and a bit of filler but it's all good. Most played album of the last month in this household. Real breadth of styles on show. Perry's many collaborations over the years have borne fruit - traces of New Order and The Cure in the production and guitar sounds. Navarro remains one of the world's best. Hope they keep making 'em like this (maybe every 2 or 3 years and not every 10). Nothing Shocking at #1 and Ritual at #2 by the way...
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on 29 October 2011
Listening back to their early stuff, The Great Escape Artist sounds exactly like where Jane's Addiction should be after twenty years. Although their pulled-back version of Just Because on Jools Holland back in 2003 (or whenever) gave a hint at where they might one day go, I doubt if most people would have predicted it. But thank god they did. Yes they used to ROCK but they always had that artsy edge in their reserves. And now they've embraced the technological-audio wizardry available these days, we hear it in full. The first eight tracks are brilliant -- Twisted Tales a particular highlight.
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