I still clearly
remember the first time I heard Maroon 5's first single "Harder to Breathe" on
the radio. Good song, I thought, but the band will never be heard from
So much for my
Adam Levine and his
boys have spent the last decade (wow, has it been that long?) proving me
wrong, over and over. And in fairness, I knew I was wrong within a
matter of months.
With the release of
the second single from this breakthrough album (which most people do not
remember was the group's second release, having previously released a
rock-based album as Kara's Flowers) - the even more commercial "This
Love" - which showed that the band had some serious commercial chops.
A decade in the
rear-view mirror, Songs About Jane is considered, rightfully so, a
pretty classic album - and Maroon 5 are consistent hitmakers.
Songs About Jane
is the new-millennium edition of blue-eyed soul - a sound which was huge
in the 70s and 80s with artists like Hall and Oates and the Doobie Brothers,
but has in general fallen out of favor in modern music.
Songs About Jane was a surprisingly deep platter,
eventually spawning four hits (and a couple of other songs that picked up
some airplay.) In fact, all of the other singles are deserving of
classic status ("Need to Breathe" is still a good enough, but far from
immortal tune.) A catchy merge of
rock and soul,
Much more timeless is
the best song here, the truly gorgeous ballad "She Will Be Loved," a
gorgeous and melancholy look at an aging beauty who is having a torrid
extramarital affair with the narrator.
There is also an
amazing Stevie Wonder cop with "Sunday Morning," the funky-Prince-gone-rock
vibe of "Shiver" and the sweet nothings of "Must Get Out."
The second disk, made
up of original demos of all the album tracks and some songs that didn't make
the final cut, is more of an interesting curiosity than any great
revelations. Most of the songs sound pretty much the same as the
eventual studio records, though slightly less slick. Occasionally,
thought, there is an eye-opening change-up, like the fun early funk-vibed
take on "This Love" complete with a squiggly 70s wocka-wocka guitar line.
The between the
cracks songs are pretty enough - there is no real reason they should not
have made the cut - and yet most are not going to make you forget the songs
that did come down. The best of the four unreleased songs are the
swoony ballad "Take What You Want" and the jazzy quiet storm stylings of
With years of
hindsight, this album was a clear precursor of the band's current
superstardom. I guess sometimes first impressions are totally wrong.
Jay S. Jacobs
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Posted: June 5, 2012.