Ritual de lo Habitual is the third album from Jane’s Addiction, and final album to feature original bassist Eric Avery. The album’s Spanish title translates to Ritual of the Habit. This album was recorded at Track Record studios, and released by Warner Brothers on August 21, 1990 and immediately became the subject of controversy by conservative political groups in the United States. In Royal Oak, MI, the very same day this album was released, owners of Off The Record, were arrested and charged with “distributing obscene material” for displaying promotional posters of the album, featuring the album cover the band intended to be released, in his record store. The charges were dropped a week later, but the incident gained national media attention.
Even before the album’s release, the band struggled to get Ritual released with the album cover they wanted. Several chain record stores refused to carry the band’s previous effort, Nothing’s Shocking, due to the depicted nudity on the album cover. Warner Brothers hoped to avoid this with the band’s follow-up, however the band wished to use a cover in the same vain. One of the main reasons Jane’s Addiction chose to sign with Warner Brothers Records was due to the artistic freedom the label said the band would have, yet the label resisted the band’s chosen album cover. In the end a compromise was reached, and two covers would be used.
The band was permitted to use the cover they wanted, a collage featuring of a sculpture created by Perry Farrell and Casey Niccoli. The sculpture can be described as a visual interpretation of the song Three Days. Xiola Blue is the center figure in the sculpture with Perry Farrell and Casey Niccoli on either side of her. Within the collage around the sculpture are various items, including a slip of paper on the right that has the word Positive stamped across it. Some believed this to be the results of an AIDS test that Perry Farrell had taken, others fans believed this to be a sign that Casey was pregnant with Perry’s child, however it was revealed that this was actually the pregnancy test of Perry’s mother, taken when she was pregnant with him. To the left of the three figures is a smaller sculpture that features a toy doll pained gold. This sculpture would be the basis of the artwork used in promo singles for Three Days and Stop!. Unfortunately, this sculpture was accidentally destroyed in the mid-to-late 1990s.
An alternate version was released without the controversial artwork, primarily for the stores that refused to carry the original artwork, although some stores chose to carry both and gave the consumer a choice in which version to buy. The Amendment Version‘s album cover simply displays the band’s name and album title at the top in black and white, and the following taken from the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The back of the Amendment Version includes the following quote from Perry Farrell:
Hitler’s syphilis-ridden dreams almost came true.
How could it happen? By taking control of the media.
And entire country was led by a lunatic?
We must protect our First Amendment,
before sick dreams become law.
Nobody made fun of Hitler??!
Initially, Warner Brothers’ Canadian branch, WEA Music of Canada, refused to release the album with both album covers. They cited that it would be too expensive to print both covers, and thus only the Amendment version was made available. Over time, and with the popularity of the album, the uncensored cover was released in Canada on CD and Cassette. Interestingly enough, there are versions of censored Canadian CD without the PMRC stamping.
Aside from the cover, the music and inside packaging are identical on the standard and “amendment” cover versions.
On April 18, 2009, Rhino Records released a limited edition 180-gram double vinyl version of this album.
There are two primary versions of this album both with the different album covers. One with the original album cover and a version with alternate album artwork known as the Amendment Version, which was released on CD, Cassette and Vinyl.
Initial versions of both the original and Amendment versions of this album included the liner notes in a separate booklet titled Novena, a term used in Catholicism for a prayer to be repeated nine times during the day. Ritual de lo Habitual has nine tracks, which is unlikely coincidental. Later versions of this album incorporated the Novena booklet into the regular album packaging and displayed them as traditional liner notes. Within the booklet is an essay from Perry titled To the Mosquitoes that touches on the album cover controversy. The essay is as follows:
To the Mosquitoes,
We have more influence over your children than you do, but we love your children. Most of you love them too, very much. You wan what’s best for them. Consider them when planning the figure. Right? Oh, mother, father, your blindness to our most blessed gift, NATURE, leaves us with the overwhelming task of correcting your utter mess. It also proves that you are no judge of art, nor of beauty. We learn from you how to become ideal adults? These are subjects that you’ve passed over. Or maybe they are too painful to speak about?
Nature and art – what could be more breathtaking?
I used to wish sometimes that I was a black man, I listened to the way black people spoke when they spoke about freedom, justice and human rights. And in the way they spoke, I was sure they were speaking the truth. At the same time there was a faint buzz spreading to all of us the suggestion that the black man was not to be treated equally. For this I envied the black man because it game him a passion for his living and a cause to die for.
Would you ever imagine there would be children swinging in polluted playgrounds?
Do you have children? Do you see yourself in them yet? Do they do whatever you tell them to, or do they question authority? Do you take the time to explain things to them, or do you blame the rest of the world for their mistakes?
I used to wish sometimes that I was a woman. A woman is the most attractive creature nature has to offer a man. Why then is is such a shame to see her unclothed? I feel more shame as a man watching a quick-mart being built. How complementary a woman is to a man! Their giving of love is fearless. Nature did right in tying the infant to the female. Yet they also carry a sense of sadness. Quite like a premonition of danger they hide but can’t shake from their minds. I understand why they want to protect their children, but for their own good, let me point out that though you may have to explain subjects to your children that you perceive as wrong, it is better to have the freedom to explain it in your own words than be silence under a government that has the power to squash anyone who opposes their views. It may one day evolve to be your children that stands as opposition. Who opposes the faint buzz that suggests to us all that women are beneath men. Women have cause to live and reasons to die with dignity. This was not always the case.
Try to restrict our freedom and we will fight even harder to preserve them.
Mothers and fathers, grandmothers and fathers, great-grandmothers and fathers, great-great-grandmothers and fathers, you are responsible for more destruction done to this planet in the last one hundred years than in all of mankind’s history combined. You’ve invented weapons capable of destroying every form of wild animal and vegetation. I am not sure what condition the world we are inheriting is really in. I just have a fear of smokestacks, and I don’t trust the men who feed their flames.
The paper these words are written on also contains the music of Jane’s Addiction. The music is original, the cover is not. The original cover is as colorful as the music. It is a daydream of the music, made tangible. It will take effort to get, it is being sold, but we are having difficulties. There is an invisible force, the same one you have heard faintly buzzing all your life. This time it buzzes much louder. I myself have felt its pain. When I looked down at the spot where it hurt, I saw a very small mosquito. A bug so old, it was known to Confucius as the “intellectual mosquito.” He sucks off of you and he sucks off of me.
Sometimes to realize you were well someone must come along and hurt you.
I have grown to become proud of myself. I have aligned with all those who have been stung by suppression. As heirs to this planet, we must maintain, honor and enjoy the gift of freedom. A cause to validate everyone’s life? Indeed.
The world looks at America because we are the beautiful!
There are two separate disc designs for the compact disc edition of this album. Initial releases have the band’s name across the top and the album title across the bottom, both in black type with white outlining and the letter J on the left side of the disc, the letter A on the right side, both in large red type. Later versions of this album would omit the single letters and display the band name and album title across the top and bottom of the disc respectively.
Both the Amendment version and the original version of this album were released in CD longboxes.
The cassette version of the Amendment version comes on both a clear plastic cassette and a solid black cassette. Cassette versions of the Amendment version have a typo on the cover, listing the album as Ritual lo de Habitual. The regular cover version comes in a clear cassette (possibly a solid black or white cassette too).
There are several separate vinyl versions of this album, all in 12″ format. The standard vinyl comes in both the original and amendment cover packaging. A double-vinyl version exists, which incorrectly labels sides A & B. For this version, Stop!, No One’s Leaving, and Ain’t No Right can be found on side A, and Obvious and Been Caught Stealing are on side B. Finally, there is a 180-gram “deluxe edition” that was released as a limited edition version on April 19, 2009 by Rhino Records.
There is a limited edition promotional picture CD version of this album. It features the same photo of Xiola Blue used on the back of the Novena booklet stamped on the front of the disc. Aside from copyright information, no other text appears on the disc. This version includes the separated Novena booklet.
Additionally, there is a promotional skateboard for this album. It features a brushed gray board with the band’s name and album title stamped in white near the head of the board, and the Warner Brothers logo stamped in red by the foot.
Finally, there is a promotional voodoo doll for the album. It comes in a plastic case with the band and album name printed on a tan label at the top. The voodoo doll itself is black with white stitching and also lists the band’s name and album title on it.
Album Charting & Awards:
Despite, and possible in part, of the album’s controversy, Ritual de lo Habitual was classified with Gold record status by the RIAA in November of 1990 and Platinum less than a year later. In March of 2000, Ritual finally reached Double Platinum status.
Ritual peaked at number 19 in Billboard Magazine’s Billboard Top 200.
This album was nominated for a Grammy in 1991 for Best Hard Rock Performance, but lost out to the band Living Colour, who were also part of the original Lollapalooza tour in 1991.
In November of 2003, Ritual was listed at number 453 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- No One’s Leaving
- Ain’t No Right
- Been Caught Stealing
- Three Days
- Then She Did…
- Of Course
- Classic Girl
Cassette and single vinyl versions include tracks 1-5 on side A, and tracks 6-9 on side B.
Ritual de lo Habitual was produced by Dave Jerden and Perry Farrell. Eric Avery does not perform bass on the track Of Course, instead bass duties were covered by band guitar tech Ronnie S. Champagne. While John Philip Shenale is credited with the strings arrangement on Three Days, according to the man himself, he actually performed on Then She Did… (thanks John). Additionally, the liner notes his middle name is misspelled “Phillip” (thanks Gavin). Charlie Bisharat is credited with playing electric and acoustic violin on Three Days and Of Course, Geoff Stradling performs piano on Three Days.
Release Date: 08/21/1990, 09/25/1990 (Japan), 07/25/1991 (Japan v2), 04/19/2009 (Re-Release)
Released By: Warner Brothers Records, Rhino Records (Re-Release)
ID Number(s): 25993 (Original Cover), W2 26993 (Amendment Vinyl & Cassette), W2 26223 (Amendment CD), WPCP-3711 (Japan), WPCP-4402 (Japan v2)
Medium(s): Cassette, Compact Disc, 12″ Vinyl, Double 12″ Vinyl, Double 180-gram 12″ Vinyl, iTunes, Amazon MP3
Run Time: 51:33
The following are articles that discuss the arrest made due to the album cover:
Detroit Free Press (MI)
August 22, 1990
ROYAL OAK CONFISCATES ROCK POSTER OVER NUDES POLICE SAY ARTWORK OF ALBUM IS OBSCENE
Author: ROBIN FORNOFF Free Press Staff Writer
Posters promoting a Grammy-nominated rock band’s new album were confiscated Tuesday by Royal Oak police, who charged the owners of a music store with distributing obscene material.
“We’re going to fight this as far as we have to go,” vowed Rick Berry, one of the owners of Off The Record, an alternative music store at 4th and Main. “First, they try to tell us what can go on the record. Now, they’re trying to censor what it looks like.”
Berry was charged with violating an obscenity ordinance by displaying a poster that promotes “Ritual De Lo Habitual,” an album released Tuesday by the Los Angeles heavy metal group Jane’s Addiction.
The poster is essentially the album cover and depicts plaster models of a man and two women in the nude.
The cover was designed by Perry Farrell, lead singer of the group, which was nominated in 1988 for a Grammy Award as the best heavy metal rock group of the year. The group lost to Jethro Tull.
Farrell wasn’t available for comment, but a spokesman for Warner Brothers Records, which distributed the album, said the cover was art and “our stance is to support works of art.”
“It’s a very subjective area,” said the spokesman, Warner Vice President Steven Baker. He said stores were given choices of two album covers.
One showed the nudes designed by Farrell. The other was a stark, all-white cover bearing the words of the First Amendment.
Both versions were stamped with a warning to parents that its lyrics contained sexually explicit material. Although police confiscated the posters — which were not for sale — they did not take the records.
“I just don’t think it’s obscene,” said Berry, who faces a $100 fine and 30 days in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charge. He was ordered to appear in Royal Oak District Court on Aug. 31.
Berry was cited by police as his partner, Lee Rosenblume, began stocking the album on shelves.
“It’s a painting,” Rosenblume said. “It is in no way degrading or cruel.”
Berry said police complained of posters from other groups about a year ago, particularly “Mother’s Milk” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, which depicted a woman’s bared breasts.
“We put some Band-Aids over her nipples and the police said that would take care of the problem,” Berry said.
But the Band-Aid treatment wasn’t permitted Tuesday. “I asked if we could just take it down,” said Berry, “but the officer said he had to cite us, that someone had complained.”
Police Chief Richard Kemp said he didn’t know who complained, adding “maybe he should have gotten a violation a year ago and we wouldn’t have the problem. . . .”
City Attorney Charles Lowther said he wasn’t aware of the citation. He added, “we will prosecute.”
“It’s pretty absurd,” Berry said.
Detroit Free Press (MI)
August 28, 1990
PROSECUTOR WON’T PURSUE POSTER OBSCENITY CHARGES
Author: ROBIN FORNOFF Free Press Staff Writer
Record store owner Rick Berry calls it vindication.
Oakland County Prosecutor Richard Thompson said Monday his office won’t pursue obscenity charges against Berry for displaying a poster promoting a new album from the Grammy- nominated rock group Jane’s Addiction.
“I think that right there tells you there was nothing obscene about the poster in the first place,” said Berry, one of the owners of Off The Record in Royal Oak. “Somebody overreacted.”
The poster, depicting nude models of a man and two women, was confiscated Aug. 21 by police, who cited Berry under a city ordinance. The next day, the case was referred to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Thompson said he wouldn’t pursue charges against Berry because the poster doesn’t meet definitions of obscene material as established by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The citation brought Berry national attention with cable television network MTV depicting him as a champion of First Amendment rights.
Berry also complained about arrests in June of members of the rap group 2 Live Crew, whose lyrics at a concert were deemed obscene by a Florida judge.
Berry said police haven’t returned the confiscated poster, but he plans to hang another in his front window.
“I just hope nobody throws a brick through the window,” Berry said.
Newsday (Melville, NY)
September 30, 1990
The Power of Immaturity
Author: John Leland
LAST MONTH, a record store owner in Royal Oak, Mich., was arrested on obscenity charges for displaying a poster for “Ritual de lo Habitual,” the new album by the Los Angeles group Jane’s Addiction. The poster, like the album cover, shows a sculpture of three naked figures sporting pubic hair.
Charges have since been dropped, but the incident was just the latest run-in between Jane’s Addiction and the guardians of public morality. Eight major chain stores refused to carry the band’s 1988 album, “Nothing’s Sacred,” the cover of which featured a sculpted set of twins, naked, their heads on fire. For “Ritual de lo Habitual,” anticipating resistance from retailers, the group released the album with two different covers. The second is all white, with a dippy message about the importance of freedom of expression printed on it.
In either format, “Ritual” (Warner) is a stunning piece of work: ugly at the edges, overflowing with conceptions of beauty at the center, with fingers in the pies of punk, heavy metal, primal scream therapy and beat poetry. Jane’s Addiction finds that unique rock spot where the distinctions between teenagers acting out and real art aren’t worth fighting about – a raw, emotive juncture where just celebrating your own sense of difference is an act of revolution, or at least carries itself as one.
The songs on “Ritual” – there are nine, none of them short – play like open-ended jams, or compositions in progress, with dynamic effects coming and going without warning. The band’s signature sound is Dave Navarro’s ringing guitar decaying away to a dirty nothing, while Perry Farrell’s voice – part shriek, part sing-song – soars freely over the top. Farrell is all over this record; cut loose from the restrictions of time and melody, he positively soars. The loose structures of the songs give him room to act out his psychodramas.
Gangly and pretentious, arty and relentlessly cathartic, Jane’s Addiction sounds one minute like a heavy-metal Yes, the next like the Doors tripping through weird scenes inside the gold mine. When the Eastern doodlings come in, of course, all highfalutin’ roads lead directly to Led Zeppelin.
But none of these signposts really identifies the band (though the Yes tag comes closest). Jane’s Addiction, for one thing, understands better than any of these bands the power of arty immaturity, and the handy synergy of libido and pretentions. And I mean that, within the framework of Jane’s Addiction’s music, as a compliment.
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