A full decade has ticked by since Maroon 5 came on the scene with Songs About Jane. The Los Angeles band blossomed from the failure of Kara’s Flowers, whose 1997 debut album on Reprise Records wilted after the public proved immune to the power-poppy charms of songs like “Soap Disco.”
Losing their major label deal and nearly breaking up in the aftermath of the album’s lackluster reception, Adam Levine (vocals/guitar), Jesse Carmichael (keyboards), Mickey Madden (bass), and Ryan Dusick (drums) soon regrouped to pursue a different musical course. Mixing R&B and funk into their pop-rock sound and welcoming a fifth member, guitarist James Valentine, they rechristened themselves Maroon 5 and signed to independent label Octone Records. Their debut album, Songs About Jane, with shades of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Prince, and inspired by Levine’s relationship with the titular lady, was released on June 25, 2002.
Songs About Jane was not an overnight success, however. Lead single, “Harder To Breathe,” was a slow burn that didn’t crack the Billboard Hot 100 for over a year, ultimately reaching #18 in November 2003. Constantly touring and getting exposed to new audiences, the following year provided Maroon 5′s real breakthrough. Second single, the supremely hooky “This Love,” became the quintet’s first top 5 hit, and “She Will Be Loved” followed right behind that fall. By the end of 2004, Songs About Jane had sold 2.7 million copies and Maroon 5 was a household name (with Adam Levine a dream of women and men alike). At the 2005 Grammy Awards, the band took home the trophy for Best New Artist.
Marking the passage of time since early adopters got their hands on Maroon 5′s debut, Songs About Jane has been issued as a 10th Anniversary Edition. A bonus disc features demo versions of the album’s 12 songs (many nearly fully realized in such early gestations), plus demos of four non-LP songs and an alternate mix of “The Sun.” I’m surprised that some international bonus tracks and remixes of “This Love” were left off the new release, including Junior Vasquez’s excellent rework. Maybe that material will be collected to celebrate the album’s 25-year mark.
But revisiting Songs About Jane ten years on allowed me to rediscover a favorite track that I’d forgotten about, “Must Get Out.” The start reminds me Pearl Jam’s “Wishlist” (another fave), while a melody in the pre-chorus recalls another song I frustratingly can’t place at the moment. But neither of those nicks, unconscious or not, diminishes the love I still have for “Must Get Out,” and now with a decade under their belt, cheers to Maroon 5 for not packing it in all those years ago.