In tenth grade, my sociology teacher had become very concerned about a small group of young men in his class. My friends and I had begun growing our hair our, wearing heavy metal T-shirts, and acting like, well, teenagers. Convinced that “the Devil’s music” had corrupted us, Coach Pierce brought in an expert – some preacher from the local Baptist church who brought with him a set of videos. They were the equivalent of the “Blood on the Highway” videos they show you in Driver’s Ed – basically, a three hour set of videos discussing the evils of rock music. The last two days were labeled a “question and answer” session, but ended up being little more than a “preach to the long haired kids and tell them how good Church is and how bad their music is” class – hey, you can get away with those sorts of things here in the Bible Belt.
To show us the evils of our music, the movie contained several music videos to support it’s claims. When talking about straight out Devil worship, they showed Corrosion of Conformity’s “Mine Are The Eyes Of God,” and to talk about homosexuality, they showed Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song.” I can’t say that any of my friends were “saved” that week, but I can tell you one thing – we all walked away Corrosion of Conformity and Jane’s Addiction fans.
As a young guitar player, I quickly learned respect for Dave Navarro’s guitar playing. I downloaded (from BBS’s, not the internet!) tablature for several Jane’s Addiction songs. I remember one that layed out the bass lines, had the lyrics written on top of that, and then for the guitar tab it just had one comment: “I have no idea what he’s doing here.” And it was true, you could listen to the songs and just think, “Good God, what the hell is he doing there?” Sure, certain JA songs had recognizable choruses, but there were tons of solos, bridges, and sometimes even main riffs that would leave my fingers blistered for days – and those were just the ones I could figure out.
Jane’s Addiction came and went, but Dave Navarro remains one of my guitar heros to this day. Even his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers is phenominal. To capture on paper what his guitar sounds like would be like to just write down the words of say Martin Luther King, Jr. The words are only part of the emotion – the delivery is everything.
This long introduction isn’t meant to compare Dave Navarro’s fretwork to freeing the slaves, but simply to express the admiration I have for Mr. Navarro. Not necessarily for Dave as a person as he’s pretty odd, but for his as a guitar player.
For me, this is the fundamental problem with Navrro’s album, Trust No One. It’s not a guitar oriented album. “There was so much to attend to,” Navarro said in an interview with SFX.com, “the guitar just ended up being secondary. ” See, that’s a problem. I really don’t care about Dave Navarro’s views of the world. I mean, maybe I would if I didn’t know who he is or what he was capable of on a six-string, but I do, and I do – and I wanna rock. It’s like Celine Dion putting out a CD of instramental songs – that’s all she DOES, she SINGS. Why would I want to hear songs with no vocals from her? (Why I would want to hear anything from her would be an entirely different arguement.) And therein lies the problem – Dave Navarro is one of the most influential and underrated guitar players of our time. Tommy Iommi’s solo record was a perfect example of a guitar player putting out a solo disk. Trust No One is also a perfect example – of how not to do one.
Those looking for straight forward rock, or anything that rocks at all for that matter, will be disappointed with the disc. Drum machines and synthesizers run rampant throughout the album’s 10 songs – only to be met head on by Navarro’s acoustic strumming. This isn’t a rock album – it’s some sort of wierd hippy love fest. After being a member of both Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, for some reason Navarro now feels it necessary to prove to us that he can rip off the Stone Temple Pilot’s most mellow riffs. I just don’t get it. While all the musicianship on the album is top notch, Navarro rarely turns up the distortion and rips one off for old time’s sake. His voice is surprisingly good and fits this style of music – even though most of the vocals have been doubled or triple-layered in many cases to give his voice the illusion of depth. Capitol is pushing the point that Navarro played all the instruments on the album – does that mean he couldn’t afford fellow musicians, or no one was willing to work with him?
The key to the album is the lyrical content. During this time in his life Mr. Navarro was using a lot of cocaine and a lot of heroin. You may already be familiar with the line, “there is no love left in your eyes / there is love between your thighs,” from the first single of the disc, “Rexall.” This is one of the more normal lyrics in the album. The lyrics are often dark and introspective. “I met some friends of mine / I used to call them friends,” sets off an interesting part of “Sunny Day.” “Not For Nothing” is a sappy little love song (sarcasm) which laments, “How can you miss me when I’m here with you? / Miss the person you thought that I would turn into / How can you say you miss the small things? / Take my .38 and push it inside of you.” Plus, he gets to yell “Starfucker” a lot in this one – didn’t Reznor and Manson already do this already? The majority of the lyrics could just as easily have been found on the next Cure album – except even Robert Smith isn’t THIS depressed. “I’d never wish myself upon you / But I cut myself trying not to.” Ouch.
Summary: Mr. Navarro is one pretty depressed and strung-out guy. While depressed and strung-out he wrote a bunch of depressing lyrics, holed up in a studio for a couple of months, and recorded them. I would probably love this album a whole lot more if I didn’t know it was Dave Navarro. It’s like discussing John Bohnam’s solo harp album, or Louie Armstrong’s bongo extravaganza, or Kirk Hammett’s harmonica outing.
Trust No One stands on it’s own as a spiralling voyage into depression. It’s not a NIN or a Bauhaus level of depression, but he’s off to a good start. I think the difference is, Dave Navarro isn’t particularly upset about being depressed like Trent Reznor is – Dave’s sad, but he’s willing to live with it and stays busy numbing himself instead of getting mad about it. For what it is, it is. For what it could be, it isn’t – and it’s a shame.
03. Sunny Day
04. Mourning Son
06. Not For Nothing
07. Avoiding The Angel
08. Very Little Daylight
09. Venus In Furs
10. Slow Motion Sickness