Best tunes of 1990: #5 Jane’s Addiction “Been caught stealing”

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“I’ve been caught stealing
Once when I was 5
I enjoy stealing
It’s just as simple as that”

Haha. If it were only as simple as all that. Farrell does like to play with us all. After hearing his intro to this very tune on the “Kettle whistle” compilation, where he muses about and chastises a fan for stealing another man’s girl, worse yet, his best friend’s girl, I wonder if anything Jane’s Addiction does is so simply black or white.

I’ve already made mention that “Ritual de lo habitual” was my introduction to these guys when I posted about “Stop!” at the number 26 spot on this list. If you’ve read those words, you’d know that this album is still my favourite album in their catalogue and using logic, you might surmise “Been caught stealing” as the likeliest candidate for my favourite of their tunes. You’d be right. It is also their biggest tunes, and so probably, a lot of people’s favourite Jane’s Addiction tune. The video and its circulation on the music channels was one of the major contributing factors to its success. The video matched the song in chaos and hilarity, featuring members of the band shoplifting in a ridiculous manner.

“Been caught stealing” is a rebel without a cause. It rocks a serious groove, the bass is heavy and funked out, the guitars scream metal and the badass lyrics are sung in a badass manner. Yet as much as I loved it from the beginning, I loved it even more when I heard the outtake version on the aforementioned “Kettle whistle” compilation. Go ahead. Have a listen and glory in its laidback lounge aroma, replete with steel drums and scat singing.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.

100 best covers: #93 Billy Bragg with Natalie Merchant and Wilco “Way over yonder in the minor key”

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As I understand it, the story goes something like this. Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, approached Britain’s modern equivalent, Billy Bragg, after seeing him perform at a Woody Guthrie tribute concert with the proposition of bringing some of her father’s unrecorded compositions to life. Bragg agreed, but not before enlisting the help of American indie folk/rock group, Wilco. The extraordinary and perhaps a bit surprising results were recorded and released as 1998’s Grammy-nominated album, “Mermaid avenue”. In fact, it was so successful that a second volume was released two years later, followed by a three volume box set that included outtakes in 2012.

This song, “Way over yonder in the minor key”, is a bit unique on this list of covers series in that we don’t have an original recording to which to compare it. Apparently, when Woody Guthrie died, he left behind manuscripts containing the lyrics to over a thousand songs but because he never read or wrote music, we’ll never know for sure how these were really meant to sound. Yet without a solid guide, I think Billy Bragg has done a fine job here, keeping to Guthrie’s spirit but adding his own personal touch. It’s simply strummed on his acoustic guitar and sung in his inimitable and working class accented vocals. He’s enlisted Wilco’s Jay Bennet to lay down a lovely Hammond B-3 backbone, some Eliza McCarthy fiddles, and of course, Natalie Merchant’s lovely backing vocal track.

“Way over yonder” is one of the lesser politically-charged of Guthrie’s tunes and is not overtly making social commentary but perhaps is more personal. It’s light and jocular, calling to mind a simpler time. Childhood. And all of those childhood teasing games.

“She said it’s hard for me to see
How one little boy got so ugly
Yes, my luttle girly, that might be
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me”

The cover:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

Vinyl love: Blur “The magic whip”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Blur
Album Title: The magic whip
Year released: 2015
Details: Black vinyl, 2 x LP, Gatefold sleeve, OBI strip, poster

The skinny: Blur’s out-of-the-blue 8th album came about by accident and was only ever released because of how good the band felt about recording it and how great they felt the end product was. For me, it’s like an incredible bonus/hidden track at the end of your favourite album. Who knows if we’ll ever see another Blur album?

Standout track: “There are too many of us”