I couldn’t help wanting to compare former Jane’s Addiction/Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro’s first solo release Trust No One with the most recent release from current Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. Not because the two sound similar. In fact, Frusciante’s To Record Only Water For Ten Days sounds nothing like Trust No One.
I guess I felt like comparing the two because with his third solo release, Frusciante was able to step forward from sideman status in an enormously popular band and release a stellar compilation of organic, meaningful songs. And I wondered whether Navarro could come close to exhibiting his inherent genius in the same manner.
Well he does. And while the results are different, the songs on Trust No One reveal just as much about songwriting prowess as do Frusciante’s.
Navarro oozed homo-erotic and strung-out rock star juice and an air of unpredictability while in Jane’s, then had an ill-fated stint in the Red Hots that led to 1995’s One Hot Minute. After the group’s dissolution, Navarro seemed to slip easily out of the spotlight. He would hint at solo material, but nothing ever materialized.
But we now know what Navarro was doing out of the spotlight, thanks to this batch of new songs, which he wrote and sings vocals on, certain song titles (“Very Little Daylight,” “Avoiding The Angel”), his eerie Web site (davenavarro.net) and, of course, the title of the CD.
“Rexall” fools you with easy strumming and Navarro’s smooth tenor before a wall of fuzz and a request to “roll over, say good night” invites, yet repulses.
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At certain points, Navarro is straight up about what has been troubling him.
“Where is my mother? Will she be there when I am gone?” he asks in “Hungry” then proclaims, “Needle and tin foil, I never thought I would be done.”
Marilyn Manson bassist Twiggy Ramirez guests on bass on the thundering, hooky “Everything.” Ramirez’s low end complements drummer Matt Chamberlain’s powerful skin bashing here, and Chamberlain shines throughout the album even as he competes with assorted drum machines and samples.
Navarro ably covers Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs,” using a smoggy Hollywood approach on the tribute, and “Very Little Daylight” sounds like the perfect background music for a smacked-out, drunk walking tour of the Sunset Strip.
Lucky for us, Trust No One sounds nothing like anything Jane’s Addiction ever did. And though I still believe that certain bands sounded better when they were on dope (Megadeth, Stone Temple Pilots), we can thank the fates that Dave got himself clean enough to release this CD and go on tour behind it.
Or did he?