(4 out of 5)
A box set composed mainly of demos, a 1990 concert and a few other live cuts, B-sides, a remix and a rehearsal? That’s what we get from the band that kick-started the mainstreaming of alternative rock revolution in the late ’80s and early ’90s? While the set’s three CDs won’t exactly take you back to the hours spent in front of “120 Minutes,” they do provide a powerful reminder of just how daring and interesting Jane’s was during their heyday. By stripping away all the sundry nostalgia and accumulated shorthand that’s evoked by uttering the band’s name, and just focusing on the raw songs that Jane’s pummeled into the collective alt-rock consciousness, A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES manages to make a powerful statement, indeed. From the legendary “Radio Tokyo” demos (“Jane Says,” “Pigs In Zen,” “Mountain Song,” “Had A Dad” and “I Would For You”) – wherein the band transformed themselves from a ramshackle L.A. oddity into a harbinger of a zeitgeist – all the way through the last notes of a barnstorming live set from the Hollywood Palladium in 1990, the set provides a unique perspective on a crucial band at the height of their powers. Although the collaboration with Body Count on “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” may have been better left as a promo compilation track, it only adds to the cumulative effect of a box which is better taken as a chronological voyage through the band’s evolution, rather than as a piecemeal sampling of hits.