We have a look back at the fascinating tales behind some of our favourite album covers. This time? Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking (1988).
Perry Farrell, frontman for iconic alt-rock group Jane’s Addiction, lives “a little bit in [his] own world” by his own admission (to HuffPo in 2014), so when Warner didn’t quite grasp his idea for the cover art for Nothing’s Shocking – the band’s 1988 debut – he grasped matters into his own hands… twice.
After teaching himself how to sculpt, Farrell fired the Warner employees responsible for creating the record’s cover art. Using a full body casting of his then-girlfriend, Farrell sculpted a pair of nude conjoined twins with their scalps on fire, sitting crossankled on a sideways rocking chair – an image he’d had come to him in a dream, he told author Brendan Mullen (see: Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane’s Addiction).
Nine of the eleven major music retail chains existing in the US in ’88 refused to stock the record due to its cover image. “I never shopped at these big stores – they were kind of like Kmart or Walmart stores… so when they came back and said that they wouldn’t do it, and that I had to change the cover, it really threw me,” Farrell said. His solution was to treat the cover just like a skin mag and put it in brown paper.
“I simply wrapped the cover up,” he said. “All the indie record stores got [the album] without [the wrapper], and all the others got [the wrapped] version. Warner was scared that they wouldn’t sell anything if [stores] didn’t get their hands on the record, so that’s what went down. If I were to put that record out today there’d be absolutely no issue, right?”