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Best Porno For Pyros Songs: 10 Explosive Alt-Rock Classics
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Best Porno For Pyros Songs: 10 Explosive Alt-Rock Classics

The best Porno For Pyros songs prove that Perry Farrell’s “other” band were more than a Jane’s Addiction splinter group.

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Originally conceived as a side project for Jane’s Addiction duo Stephen Perkins (drums) and flamboyant vocalist Perry Farrell, Porno For Pyros became a priority act when guitarist Peter DiStefano and bassist Martyn LeNoble signed up full-time, and the band’s self-titled 1993 debut album shot to No.3 on the Billboard 200. Though rooted in grunge and hard rock, the Californian quartet had dexterity to burn, with Porno For Pyros and its 1996 follow-up, God’s Good Urge absorbing everything from jazz to psychedelia into their eclectic alt-rock sound. The group ceased trading following Jane’s Addiction’s initial reunion in the late 90s, but they reunited in 2022, causing fans to rekindle their love for the band, and for us to smoke out the ten Best Porno For Pyros songs.

Listen to the best of Porno For Pyros here, and check out our best Porno For Pyros songs, below.

10: Bad Shit (from ‘Porno For Pyros’, 1993)

Though not a concept album as such, Porno For Pyros’ self-titled debut album was strongly influenced by the then-recent Los Angeles riots, a series of civil disturbances that flared up across the city following the acquittal of four LA police officers charged with assaulting Black citizen Rodney King in March 1991. One of numerous songs recalling the riots, the dextrous, Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque punk-funk workout Bad Shit referred to “walking the beach in Venice” at a time when “even the flies dropped like stars”. While it remains too oblique to be a straight-up protest song, it’s an impressively box-fresh entry among the best Porno For Pyros songs.

9: 100 Ways (from ‘God’s Good Urge’, 1996)

Bearing in mind the personnel involved, it was probably inevitable that Porno For Pyros’ self-titled debut album would carry echoes of Jane’s Addiction’s signature alt-rock sound. Yet, to their credit, the group sought to broaden their sonic palette on their second album, 1996’s God’s Good Urge, a record informed by a communal “surf trip” the band undertook across a two-year period, which involved visits to exotic locales such as Tahiti, Costa Rica and Samoa. Resulting in some of the best Porno For Pyros songs, the album housed significant departures, such as 100 Ways – a dreamy, beatific neo-psychedelic ballad which urges the listener to chill out and simply bask in the wonder of it all.

8: Black Girlfriend (from ‘Porno For Pyros’, 1993)

Another key track from Porno For Pyros’ debut album, Black Girlfriend showcases the band’s virtuosity and their intuitive ensemble skills. Starting out as a jazzy stroll, this seemingly simple and hypnotic song gradually morphs into a prog-punk epic which takes some breathless chicanes before Peter DiStefano weighs in with a memorably Hendrix[https://www.thisisdig.com/feature/jimi-hendrix-guitarist-life-legacy-influence/]-esque solo. The tempo continues to push and pull as the song comes full circle, returning to its original premise before wandering into left field. Hypnotic and then some.

7: Freeway (from ‘God’s Good Urge’, 1996)

The extended travel that resulted in God’s Good Urge sounds idyllic on paper, but it was a turbulent period for the band, with personal issues resulting in ex-Minutemen (and future Stooges) bassist Mike Watt taking over from Martyn LeNoble in the studio before the sessions wrapped. Porno For Pyros also enlisted additional help from their inner circle on Freeway, which featured contributions from ex-Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and Chilli Peppers bassist Flea. A riot of samples and off-kilter psychedelia anchored by Flea’s dextrous, Jah Wobble-esque thrum, the song initially seems doomed to fly off its axis before its soaring chorus parachutes in to save the day.

6: Sadness (from ‘Porno For Pyros’, 1993)

Most of the best Porno For Pyros songs drag an undertow of mystery and darkness in their wake, and Sadness initially seems to be no exception. The negativity inherent in the title is even reinforced by DiStefano’s menacing riffing, but Farrell’s atypically glass-half-full lyrics (“Fuel and release/Happiness is good for an hour”) and a jazzy middle section turn the song right on its head, and it emerges sounding like the Porno For Pyros hit that really should have been.

5: Porpoise Head (from ‘God’s Good Urge’, 1996)

Another track from God’s Good Urge to benefit from guest stars, the memorable Porpoise Head features decisive contributions from Bauhaus/Love And Rockets trio Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins. Dreamy, atmospheric and more than a little disorienting, this quixotically sweet pop song bobs along on a suitably aquatic backdrop, but its meaner, hard-edged waltz-time punctuations remind listeners that monsters of the deep also lurk beneath the surf that breaks on the band’s beloved Californian beaches.

4: Cursed Female (from ‘Porno For Pyros’, 1993)

Many of the best Porno For Pyros songs gleefully throw curveballs, and debut album highlight Cursed Female is typical of their MO, with the intro’s dreamy, Augustus Pablo-esque melodica rapidly giving way to an alt-rock workout driven by Stephen Perkins’ tom-heavy drumming. The urgency in Farrell’s vocal delivery is also decisive, though on this occasion it’s the disparity between the sexes (“Cursed to be born beautiful, poor and female/There’s none that suffer more”) that fuels his lyrics, rather than the LA riots that inspired much of the Porno For Pyros album.

3: Hard Charger (from ‘Private Parts: The Album’, 1997)

One of Porno For Pyros’ best – and most high-profile – releases, Hard Charger was released as the first single from Private Parts: The Album, the spin-off soundtrack to the 1997 biopic of the controversial yet hugely popular US broadcaster and media personality Howard Stern. Despite receiving widespread exposure on MTV, the direct, muscular and glam-tinged Hard Charger wasn’t a hit, though the song (which, like Freeway, featured Dave Navarro and Flea) led to Farrell, Perkins and Navarro re-forming Jane’s Addiction for a one-off US tour which eventually became a more permanent reunion this side of the year 2000.

2: Tahitian Moon (from ‘God’s Good Urge’, 1996)

The song which perhaps benefitted most directly from the trip Porno For Pyros undertook to inspire God’s Good Urge, Tahitian Moon reflected on the time the band spent in the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, where they also shot the song’s promotional film. Zigzagging between hypnotic, bass-driven verses, plaintive choruses and a somnolent middle eight, Tahitian Moon was, like all the best Porno For Pyros songs, gripping, exotic and more than a little quixotic in design.

1: Pets (from ‘Porno For Pyros’, 1993)

At least to date, Porno For Pyros haven’t released anything with quite the same crossover potential as, say, Jane’s Addiction’s Been Caught Stealing, though they did secure something akin to a signature hit with their Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart-topping debut single, Pets. Based on the (entirely credible) notion that the human race is on the brink of destruction (“My friend says we’re like the dinosaurs/Only we are doing ourselves in/Much faster than they ever did”), the song also explores the slightly more speculative idea of how aliens might take over the world and treat humans as pets. Thrillingly, however, Pets also aligns the invective with an absolute doozy of a tune, which still sets the gold standard when it comes to the best Porno For Pyros songs.

Looking for more? Check out the best 90s bands.

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